By Jim Boyce
I’ve spent muchÂ of the past three Novembers helping to organize a month-longÂ charity project called Maovember. The idea is for small bars,Â restaurants and vendorsÂ to partner with theirÂ customers for good deeds, whether that means furnishing a reading room via The Library Project or, this past year’s goal, funding cataract surgeries for the elderly poor in rural China via Orbis. The “mao” refers to the money of that name — a tenth of one renminbi — and the idea small things lead to big results.
Three of this year’s events had a wine focus. TheÂ weather gets chilly about the time Maovember starts and few things are as warming asÂ a hot mug of mulled wine. For the third straightÂ year, wine shop chain CHEERSÂ used this winter drink toÂ support Maovember. In 2013, it served mulled wine from its Sanlitun shop on the campaign’s final day. In 2014, owner Claudia Masueger upped the effort to two storesÂ over several weekends. This year, it went even further with a three-day mulled wine marathon at all 15 Beijing shops.Â The result: a rmb10,000 donation to Maovember.
Meanwhile,Â Cafe de la PosteÂ tested wine aficionados’ palates with a blind tasting of French and Chinese wines. Each taster paid rmb100, which went to charity, to try four pairs of wine, each with a French and a Chinese pour. Tristan McQuest and Justin Barthelemy led the tasting and thereÂ was plenty of discussion and debate â€” and general agreement that picking wines with labels unseen is no easy task!
The French wines were provided by Cafe de la Poste while the Chinese wines were donated by East Meets WestÂ (Chateau Nine Peaks), Torres / Everwines (Grace Vineyard), 1421 Wines (1421) and Grape Wall of ChinaÂ (Kanaan). The evening, which included numerous rounds ofÂ â€œOffice Basket-Bolaâ€œ (see here), raised rmb1664.8.
Finally, despite a rare snowfall in Beijing, there was a strong turnout for the â€˜Mystery Wine Partyâ€˜ at the shop La Cava. The idea? Customers paid rmb100 and picked one of 50 gift-wrapped wines â€” each retailing from rmb120 to rmb2000 â€” then tore open the packaging to see what they got. AllÂ 50 bottlesÂ were snappedÂ up in an hour.Â Given most people then opened their wines to drink, and share, it wasnâ€™t surprising the event lasted well beyond itâ€™s scheduled three hours.
The more sporting imbibers signed up for the Wine Flights Paper AirplaneÂ Race. Eleven contestants each paid rmb50 for a flight ticket, carefully designedÂ their craft, then raced for gloryâ€“and a bottle of Charles EllnerÂ Champagneâ€“in theÂ hallway outside La Cava.Â The Mystery Wine Party, airplane race and donation spittoon raisedÂ rmb6000.
The wines were donated by Randy Svendsen ofÂ 1421, Nick van Leeuwen and Ross Tan ofÂ Australian Natural, Jim Boyce ofÂ Grape Wall of China, Mariano Larrain ofÂ La Cava, Vicente Muedre ofÂ Le Sommelier International, Alberto Pascual ofÂ Pasion, Helene Ponty ofÂ Ponty, Edouard Simon ofÂ SeinaÂ and Mike Signorelli ofÂ Signature Wine Club.
For more info about Maovember, see the official website here. And if you’d like to get the free Grape Wall of China e-newsletter, sign up below.
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