The weather was chilly, partly cloudy.
“I better head out early before it starts to pour”, I thought to myself.
I have an exciting day ahead – my first wine fiesta! The organisers, Straits Wine Company, claims this to be the largest wine festival in Malaysia, with at least 20 wineries to meet and over 60 types of wines from all over the world to try from. Best part, I am about to embark on my first drink-all-day event and learn how not to pass out.
I booked my GrabCar and was on my way to Art Printing Works (APW), Bangsar.
During big events like these, I thought it was a smart move for the organiser to have partnered with a ride-hailing app. People do not have to worry about parking or driving home drunk, and still get a great transport deal (Grab was offering two RM15 discounted rides, to and from the Wine Fiesta location – but this was limited to only the first 1,000 rides on that day).
Having done some research on previous Wine Fiesta events, I figured I would start with the whites, move on to the lighter wines, and finally, the reds. Yes, I had it all planned out – at least I thought I did.
I arrived at APW approximately a quarter past 11 am. Beelined to registration, got my entrance wristband, and a booklet with details of all the wines featured or on sale that day. The booklet also had other useful information such as the layout of the wines, vendors, event partners, masterclasses, toilet locations, water stations and etc.
One thing I found peculiar. When I asked the organiser if some finger food will be available, they just cluelessly shrugged. To me, this was unacceptable and showed the lack of willingness to help – soon enough, I did find out on my own that some food was provided by several partners.
Time is never a problem with avid drinkers. By 11.30am, at least 20 other persons were happily sipping on their wine, and crowding occasionally at Bottega Mediterranea’s charcuterie boards and bite sized pastries from Yeast.
From time to time, there were announcements on masterclasses. Participants were allowed to join only one (out of the 5 classes offered). I decided to give Basic 101 a go, where a sommelier went through the basics of wine tasting, importance of glassware and the characteristics of wine from different regions. Those who attended masterclasses were given a paper bag of Aesop products – facial masks and body balm.
Half way through the masterclass, I suddenly found myself joined by a girl who said she had made a booking but somehow, a seat was not reserved for her. There must have been a mistake in the bookings or people were sneaking in through the side doors. Either way, it was after all a mingling event, so I did not mind sharing my wines. But I thought the organiser could have done a more attentive job.
The masterclass lasted approximately 1 hour and by this time (1pm), there was now a sea of very happy people – some flushed, but mostly loud and jolly. It was shoulder to shoulder, and a squeeze trying to get to more wines.
I wanted to get my hands on some VSOP and have seconds of the Moscato d’Asti 2015 (G.D. Vajra, Italy), but they were both out of stock. I thought, “That was fast! What about those joining the event later? There won’t be anything left to drink!”. Perhaps the organiser could have advised the wine booths to pace the drinks.
Occasionally, there were samples of hot pastas and risotto from Bottega Mediterranea – a lovely intermission from all the booze. And if you headed to the back of the hall, there was Taps Beer Bar with some craft beers. Taxi pilsner from Australia was on the tap and I got to sample. Light, sweet, fruity, it was a good switch from the all the wine. A variety of craft beers were being sold at a discounted price too.
One let down of the event was the poor level of knowledge from most of the personnel at the wine booths (where owners or brand representatives were present, they were informative). Whenever I asked “What wine is this?” or “What are you serving?” or “Can you tell me more about the wine?”, the common answers I got were “white wine” and “red wine.” At this day and age, I believe the audience’s level of interest and knowledge have gone beyond just white or red. Not to mention, the majority of personnel pouring and serving the wines were females in their early twenties (I spotted only 2 or 3 male servers). Are all wine events this gender stereotypical?
By 3.30pm, I had so much wine, i felt a little numb. All the wines started to taste chemical. This was probably my cue to head home.
I took an Uber home instead as the 1,000 rides quota from Grab had unfortunately been reached. Also, Uber had an ongoing promotion, so I got a nice discount.
Overall, it was a fun event for wine enthusiasts. Plenty of wines to sample if you go early and the masterclasses were informative.
Three of my favourite wines that day: Grüner Veltliner Singing 2015 (Laurenz V, Austria), Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2015 (Babich, New Zealand) and Moscato d’Asti 2015 (G.D. Vajra, Italy).
Would I return again? Only if I had spare cash.