Midsummer Wine Tricks

Its the time of the year that the sun does not set and it is light all day round. It is finally time for Midsummer celebrations. In Finland and Sweden (Norway too, I think) people have a day off tomorrow, and many head to their cottages in the woods. Me and M, we head somewhere else. Somewhere where Midsummer is not celebrated. It is not that we don’t like it, but there is nothing here for us when its on. All the shops, cafes and restaurants are closed, so we rather head somewhere where there is life. This year it will be to Krakow. Yay! Before we leave though, I would like to leave you with some tips for handling Midsummer wine-crises.  Continue reading “Midsummer Wine Tricks”

Wineweek 138: Wine and Architecture in Vasastan

Our holiday in Hong Kong has long passed, but luckily June in Sweden is keeping us in the right mood for summer. Traditionally June temperatures are unstable and risk for rain (snow) is high. This weekend the weather has been perfect: plus 26 to 28 degrees Celsius with some warm winds. I set out on a walk towards Vasastan , a nice part of the city with lots of parks, small shops and cafes; and wine bars of course. Continue reading “Wineweek 138: Wine and Architecture in Vasastan”

New Wine Bar in Town – Dryck

Dryck is Swedish for drink (the noun, not the verb) – a suitable, however uninnovative name for the new wine bar in town. But regardless of its mass market appearance, Dryck is actually quite a likable little place with ambitions of becoming a core hangout for the winecurious. They are serious about the fermented fruit, while at the same time keeping a laid back appearance. 

Continue reading “New Wine Bar in Town – Dryck”

Wineweek 137: Hong Kong Highlights

June in Hong Kong is hot and humid: +35 degrees Celsius and a continuous pressure of rain in the air. It was not unbearable. Actually, if you are from Sweden (or Finland) you should not complain about warm weather. Its not allowed. However,  regardless of warm weather being welcome, we sought refuge in air conditioned malls, underground tube tunnels and in restaurants and bars of course. That is what we came for: food and beverages. Hong Kong is truly a great place for eating. Continue reading “Wineweek 137: Hong Kong Highlights”

Grand Champagne Vol. 2 – Master Classes

Keeping my promise on writing some more about Grand Champagne. This time I thought I would be focusing on one of the juiciest parts of the exhibition, the Master Classes.

The Master classes are educational tastings organized at the Grand Champagne event. Every Master class had a theme; most focused on a specific champagne house, their story, style and vintages; the rest on topics like pairing champagne with food. The purpose of the Master classes was to be educational, but also a good tasting opportunities for rare wines. We joined two house-classes: Palmer & Co. and an all-time favorite, Charles Heidsieck.

The Palmer & Co. tasting was intimate. The room had space for around 20 people around a long table. We tasted four wines from Palmer: the entry level Brut and vintages 2002, 1998 and 1985. All magnums. It was lovely listening to the story of the house while tasting through a rich set of vintages. Palmer is an interesting cooperative of seven established growers bringing together their high quality grapes. Palmer wines are not too violent on the wallet either, so we have perhaps gone a bit crazy looking to buy a 1985 magnum to have in our cellar.

The other Master Class we attended was for Charles Heidsieck. It was a larger class but still quite pleasant. I really like the Heidsieck wines. The entry level cuvee has always been a favorite when it comes to big well-known brands. Along with Bollingers special cuvee of course. We already knew many of Heidsiecks recent vintages: We have tasted (and have in the cellar) both Millessime 2005 and Cuvee Millionaire 1995. So we attended mainly for the story of Champagne Charlie, and to be honest, the 1982 Jeroboam that was opened for the event. 1982 is my birth year, so I think its fun tasting champagnes that are as old as me. Heidsieck was the last tasting of the evening; we were already quite tired, and to be honest a bit tipsy. Heidsieck did not really cheap out with their pours, so it was a bit hard leaving some wine behind.

I think the Master Classes were definitely the main reason to go to Grand Champagne. Many producers had some rare vintages in the tastings, so just the opportunity to get a hold of those felt worth the price. Most master classes cost around 50€ per person and the entry ticket on top. Sounds a bit expensive, but totally worth it. A general survival tip though – do not book too many master classes per day, spread them out. Especially not following a press event where you anyway have been tasting wines all day.

xx Soile

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Comparing the colour of the 2005 and the 1982
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At the Heidsieck Master class
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Palmer 2002, 1998 and 1985
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Pouring the wine from magnums at the Palmer & Co. Master class

 

Wineweek 136: A Postcard from Hong Kong

Greetings from Hong Kong! Its day no 3, and we are soon half way through our trip. Felt appropriate to give an update. The purpose of our trip was to relax, get some sun and to eat our way through the famous culinary scene of the “New York” of Asia. The quality has been varying. We have been positively surprised as well as somewhat disappointed during the same day. So here are my first thoughts about whats good and whats not.

Pro’s. Its warm. Really warm. And humid. Summer has arrived to HK. I keep reminding myself that this is what I wanted, so I will not call it a con at any time. Second, its easy to get around. We took the bus from the airport straight to our hotel, the tube is fast and efficient, and walking around is made fairly easy. And last but not least, we have found fabulous restaurants here. We had perhaps the best steaks ever at Beefbar as well as great Iberico Bellotta and nature wines at La Cabane. Specialty coffee scene is vibrant. Even Starbucks has opened an upscale branch, Starbucks Reserve, that serves single origin coffees as pour overs and awesome cold brew coffee. That is kind of disturbing, but fantastic as I have previously associated Starbucks with very low quality. The disturbing part is that it might be that I have to stop mocking them…

Cons then? The first and most visible con for a Swede is the price level and currency. The Swedish crown is weak, and the Hong Kong dollar relatively strong. The price level in the city seems to be high: a hand brew coffee costs between 50-80$ (6-9€), and a glass of wine from 90$ (10€) and up.  I didn’t come all the way to Hong Kong to cheap out, so will not start obsessing over my bank account now, but perhaps I am in need of another shopping ban after I come back. Another clear con is that local food seems to be very bland in taste. If you look at the street food we have been peeing at, nothing has been very tempting. Luckily this is a hub for all kinds of cuisines, so no need to stick to just local recipes.

Here were the first thoughts from the city. Three full days left, and lots of nice areas to visit. My camera has been in constant use, but there are persistent clouds above the city disturbing the quality of my shots. It seems that they are not moving before it rains. I am keeping my fingers crossed for that, or otherwise the panoramic city pics from Victoria Peak will just remain a dream.

xx Soile

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Mong Kok street buz
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At Causeway Bay
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Din Tai Fung dim sum overdose
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Pork dumplings at Din Tai Fung
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The weather was not misty, my camera lens was

Glass Matters

I remember my first time in a Riedel glass tasting. It was around seven years ago at the Helsinki Wine-expo. I was not a wine geek then, wine curious perhaps. A friend convinced me to try out Riedels glass experience, where the same wine was served from four different glasses to make the point that Glass Matters. Yes, I tasted the difference. Or at least I think I did. How much is psychological is quite interesting. A friend, who is a neuro scientist, has written articles about tasting cheap and expensive wines. if you know the wine is expensive, you will be more likely to like it he says. It may be the same with the glass: if you know you are holding handcrafted fine crystal, you will like the taste better. The aromatic experience I truly believe is different due to different shapes of glasses, so that of course strengthens the total experience. Anyway, glassware matters to me, and that is most important. Continue reading “Glass Matters”