Around the small peninsula of Macau it’s time to take a whiff and smell the fruity bouquets of wine. Chalk the experience up to its rich colonial past. Since Portugal’s known for its cork and wine industry (the bold fruity Douro reds and zippy, spritzy Vinho Verde whites come to mind), it came as no surprise to me on a trip to this compact hub that the Portuguese explorers shipped crate fulls and keg fulls of the alcoholic bevvie hundreds of years ago when they traversed the sea to wind up here. Neither is it a surprise that the Macau Wine Museum is a popular spot for tourists these days.
But somehow in between those fine wine tasting days, the boozy scenes of the beer drinking crowd alongside some bad Chinese rice wine scenarios disrupted the flowing barrels.
It’s only recently that a whole wine craze from yesteryear has seen a stunning revival. And in the process, Macau has witnessed the establishment of a local sommelier association including tapping into a new wine festival, and a flurry of wine bars, of which, many are catering to the elite French wines from Bordeaux.
Here are 5 ways to act like a Bacchus with the Macanese vinifera craze and where to find the latest wine buzz in this small, rich Special Administrative Region of China:
1-Hit the Macau Wine and Dine Festival
While Asia’s largest wine and epicurean festival is feted in busy Hong Kong, wine connoisseurs have quickly caught on that a fast ferry ride to experience Macau’s new wine and dine festival is worth it.
To borrow from casino talk it was “third time lucky” at this past spring fest which completed a successful third season.
The Venetian Macau was the setting for the 38-booth extravaganza that included wine classes and lectures.
2-Act like a Ming Dynasty ruler at the lavish Imperial Court MGM Macau
This fall esteemed French winemaker Julien Barthe of Chateau Beau-Sejour Becot was an honoured guest of wine connoisseurs who dispelled some mysteries behind his winery’s exclusive MGM label, the new “1812” produced to celebrate the MGM Macau’s debut in 2007.
Imagine being a guest at this white linen table affair as the renowned French oenophile presented his 2009 and 2010 bottles of 1812.
The other big deal: His winery is situated on the Right Bank of Bordeaux’s wine region in the vinifera-rich region of Saint Emilion.
3-Talk to a sommelier
Ex-Peninsula Hotel transplant from Hong Kong now chief sommelier at the three Michelin-starred restaurant Robuchon au Dôme in the Grand Lisboa, Dheeraj Bhatia keeps only the finest wines on his hefty wine list.
Don’t be surprised as you flip through the pages and pages listing over 16,200 labels from the major wine regions of the world.
The acclaimed sommelier’s other stint was as a judge at the recent Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2015 held in Hong Kong.
4-Head to any of the Michelin-star establishments around Macau
Where there is a Michelin-star restaurant expect only the finest wines.
That goes for places like the three Michelin-starred restaurant The Eight, helmed by chief sommelier Nigel Chan who once remarked that being a sommelier in Macau means often meeting people who really want to be lavish with their money.
He told the Drinks Business, “I opened a perfect bottle of 1985 Henri Jayer Vosne Romanée Les Brûlée and the guest invited me to have a glass with him. That almost put tears in my eyes.
Since coming to Macau, I’ve tasted more DRCs in one year than I have done in my entire career!”
DRC in layman’s terms is considered among the world’s most expensive wines from the world’s most famous vineyard Romanée-Conti.
5-Now get ready for wine bars like the Bar Cristal
Still love this opulently over the top jewellery box of a bar at the luxe Wynn Hotel where wine sipping patrons lean back in tarted up lounges beneath blinged out chandeliers to discuss their big wins or losses.
No doubt the stunning panoramic views of the Macau peninsula will lure you in but the other is the bar, big on cocktails, malts and….wines. Billed as ‘the best view in Macau’ wine lovers ascend to the top floor (38th floor) of the Altira Macau where they can select from 38 different wines, many of which are exclusive private labels from around the world.
Macau’s Jade Dragon Wine Cellar
Over by the City of Dreams lies this one-star Michelin drinkers den that has been regaled this year by Wine Spectator magazine in the “Best of Award Excellence” category specifically for its wines from Bordeaux, Rhône, Burgundy, and Italy.
Check out expat run watering holes.
Near the Ruin’s of St. Paul lies a petite boite called The Macau Soul. Run by owners David and Jackie they offer a lovely wine menu of 400 labels featuring Portuguese wines including espumantes, vinho verdes, brancos (whites), tintos (reds), and dessert wines.
Find the biggest wine stash fit for a tycoon
Head to the regal Aux Beaux Arts inside the MGM Grand Macau and be prepared for an oenophile’s dream-come-true.
The daughter of Stanley Ho (the biggest casino tycoon in Macau who single-handedly created Macau’s most profitable industry) saddled up with the MGM Mirage Group as partners on several ventures, one of which includes this luxurious restaurant.
And with the fine dining comes a palatial wine cellar, believed to store 12,000 bottles. And if that’s not enough, there is another underground cellar that purportedly has another 23,500 bottles.
Insiders report the oldest wine on the list is Château Lafite Rothschild 1870.
For fine French find out more about Robuchon au Dome Macau.
Do you love baking? Try this Macao recipe for egg tarts.
Parisian Macao has some fabulous restaurants. Here’s a recipe from La Chine.
Looking for something new to taste? Have you tried Macanese food?