The Hilton holds its tenth annual Food & Wine Experience this Saturday, November 10. It’s about as must-attend as a wine event gets in Beijing. I interviewed Hilton GM Vlad Reyes and F&B Manager Philippos Arghirides about the history behind it and what we can expect this year.
Boyce: How did the first Food & Wine Experience get started and what was the response from trade and the public?
Reyes: In 1997, the only places people could enjoy good wines in Beijing were in hotels. With the strong reputation that our Louisiana restaurant had for its wine list, it was a natural event to organize. The restaurant manager started it together with all the big wine distributors in town.
It was a smashing success from day one. In fact, it was a multi-day event and several guests stayed overnight in the hotel to be able to enjoy the wines without the risk of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Boyce: What have been some of the highlights over the years?
Reyes: Every year, the event carries a theme. In the five years I have seen this grow, we have had themes such as wine and lifestyle, wine and art, and wine and jazz. The gala dinner is always the culminating event for the weekend, and leading winemakers and chefs have graced the occasion, including from Leeuwin Estates and Penfolds. This year, we will feature wine critic Jeremy Oliver.
Boyce: How many wines will be featured this year? What kind of seminars can visitors expect?
Arghirides: This year we have 193 booths, our highest number ever, plus media, food and equipment suppliers. There will be 200 brands and approximately 1,000 different wines. This makes the Hilton Beijing Food and Wine Experience the biggest wine exhibition in Beijing.
Boyce: What makes the tenth anniversary event different from other years?
Arghirides: In a nutshell, the major differences are the number and variety of products, having Australian wine guru Jeremy Oliver host wine classes and the gala dinner and having our first 10-course gala dinner paired with 10 different wines. We will also have an auction of rare wines, some which are unavailable in China and are rare finds in Asia, with the benefits going to charity.
Note: The Food & Wine Experience runs from 1-5 PM; entry is 230 kuai and includes a brunch buffet.
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