Eat

I find happiness in an honest meal. Whether it's a simple pasta or an exquisite risotto, a perfectly cooked steak or an intricately prepared curry, all great dishes are a seamless blend of ingredients and indulgence, of style and substance.

Drink

Many poets have waxed philosophical about the values and virtues of wine, about its power and principles, its joy and attraction.

Travel

Travel isn't about the destination; it's about the journey. It is about the people and places you meet along the way.

Shop

As I crisscross the globe I often discover innovative wine products, new gadgets or the perfect gift for wine lovers; and so I have created a collection of Wine Portfolio merchandise.

Learn

Wine can sometimes seem complicated and intimidating but it doesn't have to be. Wine should bring joy not stress and you don't have to be an expert to learn to love wine.

Archives

What Wine Are You Drinking for the Eclipse

August 19, 2017 11:17 pm - Posted by Jody in Eat

On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun. Anyone within the path of totality can see one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights – a total solar eclipse. This path, where the moon will completely cover the sun and the sun’s tenuous atmosphere – the corona – can be seen, will stretch from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun’s disk.

This gives us a once in a lifetime opportunity for day drinking while it’s dark. So we need to choose our wine very carefully. After all history will be judging.

To see a total eclipse, where the moon fully covers the sun for a short few minutes, you must be in the path of totality. The path of totality is a relatively thin ribbon, around 70 miles wide, that will cross the U.S. from West to East.  The first point of contact will be at Lincoln Beach, Oregon at 9:05 a.m. PDT. Totality begins there at 10:16 a.m. PDT.  Over the next hour and a half, it will cross through Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and North and South Carolina.  The total eclipse will end near Charleston, South Carolina at 2:48 p.m. EDT.  From there the lunar shadow leaves the United States at 4:09 EDT.  Its longest duration will be near Carbondale, Illinois, where the sun will be completely covered for two minutes and 40 seconds.

So what will you drink to celebrate the eclipse? It seems like Champagne may be a good choice. Since it starts in Oregon perhaps a Pinot Noir would be in order. Of course it should be a warm August day so maybe a cool crisp Sauvignon Blanc would pair well with total darkness?

We’re excited, so please let us know your thoughts.

Hong Kong Still Leads the Asian Wine Scene

August 9, 2017 1:21 pm - Posted by Jody in Eat

Wine culture is swelling on the vine in Hong Kong, with imports and re-exports thriving and giving rise to subsidiary enterprises that cultivate local connoisseurship, as Honey Tsang reports.

After starting with a welcoming glass of sparkling wine, Kevin Davy and his first-time clients were set to embark on a vinous adventure. They sipped and reveled in glasses of wine poured from carefully chosen bottles. Davy, a sommelier-cum-wine educator, paired the drinks immaculately with nibbles.

This is when the camaraderie between a wine educator and his students tends to gel – no notes or chalkboard, just banter. Through convivial conversation, the 28-year-old French national imparted knowledge to his students. However, they were not in a classroom, but a client’s living room.

In recent years, a new type of door-to-door wine education service has sprung up in Hong Kong, offering a fresh way for the city’s wine lovers to understand and better enjoy wines in the comfort of their own homes.

“Most learners are shy. They’re often too intimidated to ask basic questions in front of strangers,” said Davy, who worked as a professional wine educator in the French region of Provence before moving to Hong Kong. “When they learn at home, they are all just friends and are always happy to ask questions.”

This relatively soft approach to teaching people how to appreciate wine works particularly well with wine lovers who plan on exploring more but feel thwarted by the trappings of traditional wine schools.

Davy’s venture, Sommelier at Home – which he set up in Hong Kong in 2014 – has borne fruit. He’s built a broad clientele, ranging from beginners to regular wine consumers, and even oenophiles, a rather fancy term for wine lovers.

He attributes the success of his business to the locals’ zeal for quality wines coupled with a growing thirst for advanced knowledge. He understands that the city’s wine drinkers, at all levels, are now more eager to burnish their knowledge of wine as they strive to become smarter consumers.

Cross-border trade

This smart-drinking attitude in Hong Kong’s wine scene is also trickling across the border and seeping into the soil of the Chinese mainland.

Davy is in great demand among mainland wine buffs. In recent years, he’s been invited by businesses in Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, to provide wine-tasting workshops for their staff members.

“These learners aren’t looking for sommelier certificates or diplomas,” he said. “They come to me simply as wine lovers who want to understand what they like and why they like it, so they can buy the right affordable wines that match their own tastes and values.”

With demand for mid-range wines growing, the mainland is forecast to overtake the United Kingdom and France by 2020 to become the world’s second-biggest consumer after the United States. Wine consumption on the mainland is projected to soar to nearly $22 billion by 2020, up 40 percent from $15.5 billion last year, according to estimates from International Wine & Spirits Research.

The rising volume represents a real and growing appetite for the beverage among mainland drinkers, notwithstanding the rising trend of wine being bought as business gifts amid the government’s clampdown on corruption.

Though the majority of mainland drinkers are less wine-savvy than those in Hong Kong, “they are more eager to learn, and they tend to learn faster”, Davy said.

According to Song Haiyan, associate dean of the School of Hotel and Tourism Management at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University who oversees a nascent program called Master of Science in International Wine Management, the mainland’s rising appetite for quality wines has been driven by a growing middle class, most of whom are millennials who rarely pennypinch on lifestyle goods.

Relatively speaking, these mainland millennials are fussier than Generation X. They’re better adapted to global wine trends, and, unlike their parents’ generation, aren’t content with mediocre wines, he said.

Surprise vintages

In addition to providing courses about basic wine knowledge and drinking etiquette, Davy also offers a personalized sommelier service. His duties include bringing in superb bottles from famous vineyards that will complement the food his clients prepare at home.

He said he is astonished at how wine-savvy his clients are. “Many wine enthusiasts in Hong Kong are accustomed to the taste of high-priced wines,” he said. “They always ask me to surprise them with bottles that are underrated, but taste divine.”

Last year, nearly 63 million liters of wine poured into Hong Kong, amounting to HK$12 billion ($1.5 billion), far outstripping the HK$1.62 billion imported in 2007.

Most of the wine Hong Kong imports comes from France. In March, French wines accounted for 62.4 percent of the city’s wine imports, and were valued at HK$619 million. Australia took second place, earning HK$181 million, with about 18 percent of the market.

Hong Kong’s wine exports have also been expanding exponentially. Since the authorities scrapped customs duties and administrative controls for wine in 2008 in a bid to propel Hong Kong toward becoming Asia’s wine hub, the city has pulled in sizable profits, mostly through re-exporting bottles to the Chinese mainland. Re-exporting involves exporting previously imported goods in an untouched state.

Cross-border wine trade leads the market. In March, figures calculated by the city’s Commerce and Economic Development Bureau showed that Hong Kong pocketed around HK$355 million through re-exports of wine to the mainland. That was equivalent to 76.5 percent of the city’s total wine re-export receipts for the month. Destinations such as Macao, (13 percent) and Vietnam (6 percent) came next.

The close ties in the cross-border wine trade are the result of years of cooperation between the Hong Kong authorities and the central government.

In the past decade, a number of incentives have been introduced to facilitate the cross-border wine trade for industry players, including the reduction of red tape for re-exports to mainland ports, and zero-tariff status for Hong Kong-produced wines entering the mainland under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement.

Greater vibrancy

Altaya Group is a boutique shop that has been offering people in Hong Kong a wide selection of top-flight wines since 2001. Its founder Paulo Pong Kin-yee, a seasoned wine merchant, said the dynamics of the city’s wine scene, especially the fine-wine sector, have become more vibrant over the past two decades.

“You won’t see another city like Hong Kong, which has a population of about 7 million but abounds with wine enthusiasts with an overwhelming focus on premium wines,” said Pong, who is known locally as the “Wine King” in recognition of his endeavors in leading the city’s fine-wine industry.

For almost a decade, Hong Kong’s fine-wine industry has been characterized by outstanding merchants and authenticators who have a strong global network of acclaimed winemakers and help bring in a high-value selection of genuine class-A wines from across the world.

This forte is valued by mainland and overseas collectors, who visit Hong Kong in search of investor-grade bottles. Chateau Lafite, from Bordeaux, Domaine de la Romanee-Conti and other Burgundies are always the most sought-after vintages, according to Pong.

In 2014, the Sotheby’s wine auction in Hong Kong set a world record by selling the most expensive wine lot (114 bottles of Romanee-Conti) for HK$12,556,250 – which works out at HK$110,143 per bottle or HK$13,768 per glass.

This trend is becoming more common, especially after a large number of counterfeit bottles were discovered at international auctions some years ago, eating away at the global fine wine market. One of the biggest scams was pulled off by Rudy Kurniawan, who sold fake wines at auction and defrauded buyers out of millions of dollars. Kumiawan was jailed for 10 years by a court in the United States in 2014.

According to Pong, importing bottles directly from winemakers is the best approach to ensure that no bogus beverages can slip into the supply chain. Pong’s company is the exclusive agent for about 90 internationally lauded brands from Bordeaux, Burgundy, the US and elsewhere.

A new dream

Davy has always been a very active in the field of wine education, and now he has a new plan. He is preparing to crack a new market – the 40-to-50-something domestic drinker.

He believes that many people in Hong Kong have a misconception that wine is a trapping of high society. He has been pleased to see that some locals are trying to adapt to drinking wine, and he has noted that middle-aged men love to order wines in restaurants to liven up an evening.

“While this group is already embracing wine, I really want them to have better wines. I want to guide them to grasp the basic concept of pairing wine with Chinese dishes.”

He is mapping out a new project that will offer rookies a case of basic wines complete with explanatory notes. The wines will prompt them to acquire more knowledge.

Davy wants to achieve a trickle-down effect, first by reaching out to the city’s established wine lovers, then by moving on to beginners in a bid to help people in Hong Kong to drink smarter.

An Ancient Wine Press

July 25, 2017 2:29 pm - Posted by Jody in Eat

A large Byzantine-era wine press uncovered in the Negev region is only the second of its kind to be found By Amanda Borschel-Dan Digging in the ancient 1,600-year-old wine press in Ramat Negev, summer 2017. (Tali Gini, Israel Antiquities Authority) While Israel is famous for greening the desert, a recent find of a 1,600-year-old wine press… read more

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9 Margaritas To Drink This Cinco De Mayo

May 5, 2017 4:12 pm - Posted by Jody in Drink

The weather’s changing and there’s nothing that says it’s almost-summer quite like a cool refreshing margarita. On Cinco De Mayo — a celebration of Mexico’s 1862 victory in the Battle of Puebla — people flock to restaurants and bars to sip on these delicious tequila-based drinks, but why go out when you can whip up something… read more

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Jody’s Insider Secrets to the Best Steak BBQ on Facebook Live

March 25, 2017 12:36 pm - Posted by Jody in Learn

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Join us for a Facebook Live on Thursday, March 30 at 3:30 PM Eastern Standard Time on the Wine Portfolio Facebook Page. Like us here and prepare to learn how to grill a steak by one of the world’s foremost experts.

Chef & Restaurateur Jody Ness will show you his insider’s secrets so that you can get the most out of BBQ season.

Jody

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5 Ways To Rum Right All Year Long

March 23, 2017 3:42 pm - Posted by Jody in Eat

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Light, golden, dark, straight, on the rocks, for cooking, or premium rums are few ways to enjoy this distilled alcoholic beverage. Rum production is very common in the Caribbean, Latin America and other parts of the world. Even though is commonly consumed with mixers, rum is no longer seen as a rough spirit to cover up… read more

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47 ice cube trays for the chillest people you know

February 25, 2017 2:21 pm - Posted by Jody in Eat

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For those times when only a cocktail will do, we suggest you elevate your ice and make the cocktail a true work of art.

Take advantage of this golden age of novelty ice molds. Amazon The kinds of molds you want in your house As the temperature warms and the sun starts to beat down on my back, I’m thinking about ice cubes—and not the boring square ice molds, either. In this era of silicone molds—which, as Pop Sci’s editor… read more

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La Bottega del 30: Chianti’s Michelin Starred Hideaway in Paradise

February 2, 2017 8:20 pm - Posted by Jody in Eat

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VILLA A SESTA, ITALY, February 2, 2017 – La Bottega del 30 is an extraordinary Michelin-starred restaurant in the tiny hamlet of Villa A Sesta in the hills of Tuscany 15 miles east of Sienna. The lifetime achievement of Franco and Helene Stoquelet, and in its 20th year holding a Michelin star, the actual experience of… read more

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Taiwan Whisky Pioneer Is Winning Awards

December 14, 2016 3:39 pm - Posted by Jody in Drink

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For five decades, Lee Tien-tsai developed his business empire amid the paddy fields, gorges and mountains of his rural birthplace in northeastern Taiwan. But for all his success, the laborer’s son—who started out selling mosquito-repelling incense as a teenager in the 1950s and went on to become one of the island’s richest men—always harbored a final… read more

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The Ultimate Wine Cheat Sheet

November 28, 2016 3:55 pm - Posted by Jody in Drink

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