Social Harmony and Wine


Here comes the golden age for wine marketing. The booming wine market ever since 2008 has not only rejuvenated the public’s imagination towards wine itself, but also renovated the citizens’ attitude– with the joint efforts from the Government(SME loans, CEF for receiving wine education), cultural institutions(SOPEXA, all wine producing countries and their trade arms in Hong Kong) and business sector(‘initiated by TDC mostly) alike-wines are talked about from everywhere. As if a natural gift gift from God- everyone in Hong Kong suddenly is speaking the wine language as if they were wine connoisseurs, wine educatos or wine merchants. Everybody gets what he wants: wine drinkers got the halo on the head for being wine literate and 'classed' like a cru; government did good; the industry improved; merchants got the cash flow. Harmony.

Had the ‘advisers’ and wine friends around Mr Y L Tang overdone the opening of the market in 2008, considering wine is nonetheless toxic to some extent? I thought they did; in retrospect, they did not because the industry has been thus rejuvenated. It is rejuvenated by ‘new’ suppliers direct from the city of Bordeaux, New York and London familiar to the experienced, who imparted new life to the industry with more advanced knowledge, international attitude and vision, and, of course, their stock still sitting in in the warehouse of their own countries! Consumers, including YL Tang’s ‘’influencers’, are supplied with wider choices and lower prices. And gone are the unprofessional- full-time-drinker-part-time-trader-wine-business-hobbyist. Hong Kong is as great as London and New York, if not even greater.OK-not that bad. Just a lapse of ‘memoire’ of that tiny little bit of the history of the faceless Hong Kong merchants. Harmony.

7 years had elapsed and the wine community of Hong Kong has never been the same. Amateurs(genuine lovers of anything by the way, according to French) bonded by the ‘love’ for wines, who may have either be founded or unfounded hope for making money out of wine trade, have existed since wine itself. They are to stay though. Who really can say however unprofessional they could have been why they should not be allowed exist? They coud just drink them up by the end of the day! After all, everybody is entitle to their ways of making a living and why should we mind? And of course in a free-spirited Hong Kong and in business jungles everyone is free to run.Wine is just a whore: everybody wants to lay their hands on it. Al you need to do is an email address, a website, registered to wine-searcher. Such co-existence. But that is not so special to the wine industry; this kind of situation exists for a lot of industries. Harmony.

The Cultural Shift begins!

That all begins in the territory with the Hong Kong style of wine writings – news reports on wine events, wine features in magazines, exhibition and tasting catalogues, and wine commentaries on the Internet, Wine Searcher, Vivino and many many others- inter alia. While wine sparks off wide ranges of creative trade practices, ‘artistic’ and ‘buyer-guide’ wine writings complete the picture with words. Everyone suddenly become a wine critic. Harmony.

Oh, Critics!

Hong Kong Wine writings today, which are collectively termed as “wine criticism”, carry diverse components ranging from personal reflections, intellectual packaging from commercial wines, analysis of the wine market(like En Primeurs, post Parker arena, MW contestants), to aesthetic account on wine writers and their works. One key trick employed in giving wine criticism is to replace what one sees and experiences with what one emotionally connects. That seems to be the approach of the not-formally tranined on the one hand. On the other the more trained wine writers(WSET, SWE, MW, MS curriculums) attached academic theories and cultural criticism to whatever wine tasted and in description. Of course, that is for the ‘writers’ who thought they are trained enough. Sadly, the tricks extend neither the space for an understanding of wine with a view for further the future of the communication. Instead, they only bring vague and detached accounts of wine itself. Just look into the wine comments- most of them are all not originals-they are more like clip-works from-type-writers-or-English-to-Chinese-translators-type of-wine-writers. Everybody is happy though. Harmony.

How are we going to open up new horizons in the field of wine criticism? I thought of exploring how local critics do so through an analysis of their writing styles, their attitudes, their research methods, their thinking. If I could have done that, I will be dead tommorrow. Harmony.

Can we safely voice our views in wines?

That’s the tragedy of all ‘wine thinkers’(to borrow from the famous wine writer and judge): you can say things from heart with good reasons and intentions but nobody will listen to. What about I mention the good guys and what they did, in the expectation that they can serve as current ‘models’ for the aspiring, humble learners? They are outside Hong Kong, so none in Hong Kong can possibly offended. And of course, I mentioned without clues to names as well. Ok I will do that. Harmony.