This time we’re having a chat with someone who is able to provide an expert view for our clients when it comes to good wine. Through this interview, we will touch on some frequently asked questions and at the same time allow you to see the beauty of wine through the perspective of a man who has a great passion for it.
Shalom Chin is a trusted partner of Chef At Work who works alongside Edwin Phua in offering his expertise in Food and Beverages consultancy for Chef At Work’s clients. Shalom is a certified sommelier, someone who is frequently known as a wine steward, having been trained in the knowledge about all aspects of wine service as well as wine and food pairing. With a good wealth of experience under his belt, we have crafted a series of questions for Shalom and hopefully you will find some precious nuggets of information through his responses. (More about Shalom can be found here)
To appreciate good wine, it takes a curious soul to dig deep, discerning taste buds to identify its flavour and a heart to appreciate its heritage and efforts that has gone into producing it. We hope that through Shalom’s journey, it would inspire you to look at wine from a fresh perspective to influence your take on its position in the entire overall settings of a restaurant business. Perhaps it might just bring about a subtle but yet integral change to your business as you behold its layered attributes, unique beauty and form.
Without further ado, let’s jump right into it!
Shalom, tell us, when did your passion for wine begin?
It started when I was 17 years old. I recalled I walked into cold storage at Great World City, wanting to get a drink to quench my thirst. But instead I got myself a bottle of wine. There was something intriguing about the taste of wine and since then my curiosity was stirred. This interest carried on during my university days and I was off tasting wine at least 3 times a week! My passion for wine was so intense that I decided to put an end to studying accountancy and went on a pursue studies and eventually a career in the wine industry. I went off to Australia, subsequently to Italy and United States to learn all about wine. The rest is history.
Every individual has his or her own take about wine. Some may perceive it as a piece of art; others may see it as an asset or investment. So, what is wine like to you?
Wine, to me, is like a mystery waiting to be uncovered. Whenever I taste wine, I can’t help but start thinking like a detective. My thoughts begin to wander off and I will start speculating about where is this wine produced? What is the climate? How did it get its flavour? What is the wine-making process like? What was the owner’s intention behind producing it?
What are the similarities you observe in the process of winemaking as compared to food preparation in a restaurant?
The flavour of the wine produced is largely influenced by the character, temperament of the wine-maker. To a large extent, this can also be true when a dish is being prepared. There is also an element of surprise since there will be times when something different is being created when different ingredients (growing conditions in the scenario for wine) are being used.
Tell us, why BNU and what does it represent?
“Binu” is the Sardinian word for wine. We dropped the letter “I” as there is a possibility that people might mispronounce it as “Bi”-“nu”. BNU is not just a space for wine classes or events. I see it as a place for collaboration across different interests and industries. You could expect events and exhibitions happening on a regular basis. (More about BNU can be found here)
Lastly, would you be able to share with us what do you think are the key factors to note when business owners are going about sourcing for the right wine for a restaurant?
Such a scenario is almost like finding a right friend. It starts by knowing yourself, in this setting, it is almost like you will need to have an understanding about the type of cuisine you are serving and how the wine would fit into the menu and setting of the restaurant. Sourcing for wine is beyond looking at the dollars and cents. While it is considered as a business opportunity, it is also a bridge to opening up conversations and building relationships (with suppliers and consultants).