“There’s also a nice Chianti from Italy,” he countered, looking a little nervous.
“But don’t you think … you know – when in Rome and all that?”
I like to try local wines. I’m no expert but I do know what I like and so far I haven’t met a shiraz I didn’t like.
We were at the China House restaurant. Located at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, it provided a superb meal of traditional Chinese dishes in a stunning environment with a red and black, art-deco interior. We had a private booth with carved and latticed wooden doors. The staff were friendly, attentive and provided excellent advice. "You've ordered too much food," our waiter cautioned us. He was perfectly correct, but who could resist such dishes as their signature hot and sour soup with huge chunks of lobster, or Peking duck with crispy, fragrant skin and meltingly tender meat? We didn't stop there, of course, we had to have the sautéed scallops and prawns with artfully arranged vegetables. All washed down with, tonight, Chianti.
But I wasn’t going to give up.
As soon as I could, I did a little digging. Asia, as it happens has a thriving and growing wine industry as the appreciation for the beverage grows throughout the region with a growing middle class.
At time of writing, China has the most wine companies at 800. Japan follows with 200 and India boasts 80. Korea has 25. Thailand has 10 while Indonesia, Taiwan and Vietnam have five or six each. Even Cambodia and Myanmar are getting in the act with one or two wineries each.
I prevailed at the next dinner and we tried a PB Valley Khao Yai Winery Reserve Shiraz, 2009. It was lighter than most shiraz’s I’ve tried in the past, perhaps a little closer to a pinot noir but lovely with Chinese food. And, I suppose that’s the point. Make the wine to go with local types of cuisine rather than the heavier European or North American.
Notwithstanding the current troubles in Thailand's capital, we found Bangkok to be spotlessly clean and the people friendly and relaxed. It was pretty much business as usual. The only caveat is that we avoided the downtown core where the demonstrations are centralized. The affected areas are well publicized and easy to avoid. They do not impact on the normal tourist destinations such as the Royal Palace complex, the Emerald Buddha or the Reclining Buddha. At no time did we feel our personal safety was at risk. We stayed at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, right on the river, which gave us the easy option of a water taxi if we wanted to avoid some of the street traffic.