Many wine fans in Beijing make the annual pilgrimage to the Hilton Food and Wine Experience, which will mark its twentieth anniversary in just a few years time. Chris Roberts, who led the team that organized five of those events, has taken the tradition to DoubleTree by Hilton Guangzhou, where he is general manager. I asked Roberts about the first Food and Wine Experience in Guangzhou, which will be uncorked this Saturday.
On deciding to do the event:
“I’ve been in Guangzhou for two and a half years, one and a half to open the hotel, and now we’ve been open for a year. It occurred to me last year that it would be a great idea to put on the event here.”
“I find Guangzhou is now far more advanced than Beijing was 12 years ago when I first arrived before the Olympics. It’s more advanced as a food and beverage market, but, given its proximity to Hong Kong, it’s so far behind Beijing and Shanghai for wine. I find it’s a city for beer but not so much for wine.”
On what attendees can expect:
“We’re doing a carbon copy of the event in Beijing, really focusing on educational stuff that’s affordable. There is three hours for the trade and four hours for the public, with a buffet, for only rmb168 net, plus we have ten tasting classes.
“There will be over 500 products available from 148 suppliers. We’ve separated it into three different zones. We have Europe, we have Asia-Pacific, including some Chinese wines, and we have the rest of the world, with lots from South Africa.
On the tasting sessions:
“We have Tim Adams, owner and winemaker of Tim Adams Wines from Claire Valley. He’ll be doing two sessions, one for the trade and one for the general public and media. He’ll be putting on a tasting of his range, eight wines — three whites and five reds — and it will be very casual and informal. I’ve actually had the pleasure of attending two wine sessions in the past with him and he’s a very down to earth guy.”
Roberts says there will also be an Australian wine tasting with importer/ distributor Pran Cellar, plus coffee and chocolate pairing, classes on ice cream, local tea and Australian beef, and several beer sessions, including on “What is a craft beer?” and American craft beer. [See details in the poster below.]
On reaction from the trade:
“I must say the local food and beverage suppliers are jumping at it. I was worried we wouldn’t be able to sell enough tables, but in the end it’s a bit overbooked!”
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