I’ve long been a fan of the annual Hilton Food & Wine Experience. I’ve gone to this fair every year for a decade, held contests on my blogs to give away hundreds of tickets and overnight stays–including in the presidential suite–to promote it, helped arrange this record-setting event, and powwowed with hotel management on strategy as recently as last summer. This year? The Hilton contacted me because they heard from someone in the media that I was into wine and might be interested in their event. Based on this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this, I’d say that’s a good bet. Anyway, institutional memory doesn’t seem to be a strong point with these guys. Or Google search. And yes, I’m a bit bitter about the whole situation.
Anyway, lots of people have been asking what’s happening at this year’s fair, which isn’t surprising as there seems to be little very buzz. Here are the details I have:
- The 18th Hilton Food & Wine Experience is slated for 11 AM to 7 PM on October 31, which could be a “hair of the dog” opportunity for those celebrating Halloween early on Friday or a warm-up for those planning to party on Saturday.
- There will be over 25 wine suppliers with over 400 labels, which sounds low for that many participants. The poster only lists a few suppliers so I asked around and talked to the hotel, and participants include China Wine & Spirits, The Wine Republic, ASC, 1421 Wines, East Meets West, Le Sommelier International, Signature Wines, Mercuris, Australian Natural and Montrose, among others.
- You can buy wine on site. Traditionally, the fair has only been for samples, but there were some sales last year and it looks like it’ll be wide open this year, which will be happy news for many people. (Who wants to guess what percent of those people will buy wines at one table and then put them down while tasting at another table and never find them again? I’m going with 22 percent.)
- I’m told there will be tastings of “oysters, chocolate, foie gras, ice cream, cold cuts and cheeses”.
- And that Hilton “will focus more on the education part” this year, specifically on classes focused on individual grape varieties.
- As for the entry fee, if you arrive between 11 AM and noon, it’s rmb88 for the tasting and rmb228 for the tasting plus lunch buffet. If you arrive after noon, it’s rmb148 for the tasting and rmb268 for the tasting and buffet. (There is a 15 percent surcharge on tickets.) I realize the poster below doesn’t list those specific prices but I confirmed them with the hotel.
The events scene in Beijing has evolved a great deal during the past few years. The craft beer festivals, in particular, have taken things up a few notches with a savvy mix of social media, cool posters and logos, and media outreach. This wine fair could use a bit more of that spirit, especially as very few events last 18 years, let alone when it comes to wine and China. In short, jia you Hilton! Anyway, if you enjoy wine, this event should offer excellent value and you will no doubt get your fill of fun on Saturday. For ticket sales, contact laura.wang (at) hilton.com.
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