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Grape Expectations

Uncorking the Cathay Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition

HONGKONGERS LOVE WINE, but it hasn’t always been the easiest indulgence. For years, an 80 per cent duty meant that options were limited and rather expensive. But in 2007, the Hong Kong SAR Government halved the wine duty, before completely abolishing it the following year. As a result, the city became the first economy with a free wine port – and tastings, events and auctions sprung up across the city.

“It became clear that we needed an Asian-based professional wine competition,” says Master of Wine Debra Meiburg, who founded the Cathay Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition (HK IWSC) in 2008. With Cathay as its title sponsor, the competition invites producers from around the world to submit their wines for the opportunity to win awards. Here, the focus is on reflecting regional tastes, rather than the preferences of international judges.

“We felt establishing a competition with Asian judges was necessary to select the best wines suited for our markets,” says Meiburg, who also consults on the wine lists available on Cathay Pacific flights. “For this, we needed to select, train and mentor a pool of Asian wine judges – the vast majority of whom had never judged a professional competition before.” Now, celebrating its 15th year, the HK IWSC has trained more than 150 judges, many of whom are now senior judges in competitions around the world.

Ronald Khoo, Wine, Spirits and Beverages Manager at Cathay, was one of the judges tasked with determining the winners in this year’s HK IWSC, held in September. Over three days, Khoo and the other judges were given blind tastings from each of the 42 categories. As with other years, they were also asked to rate wine pairings with different Asian dishes. A total of 61 trophies were handed out, along with 109 gold, 341 silver and 468 bronze medals

Read full article on CATHAY Magazine

Grape Expectations

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