The world’s leading wine and spirits trade event organiser, Vinexposium, is staging a major comeback after a four-year-long absence with the return of Vinexpo Asia this May 23 to 25 at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.
The three-day B2B trade event will bring nearly 1,000 exhibitors from 35 countries, with an expected attendance of 8,000 visitors from the trade industry, including wine distributors, merchants, wholesalers, hoteliers and restaurateurs.
Of the show labels, there will be 35% French wines and 65% international wines from well-known markets, as well as lesser-known regions like Aruba, Austria, South Korea, China, Thailand, Germany, Switzerland, Israel and Canada.
Asian trade hub
Vinexpo has a presence in the region spanning 25 years, with the first Vinexpo Asia held in Hong Kong in 1988. It has become a major strategic event bringing together buyers, importers and sommeliers from growth markets across Asia. As the most buoyant region for the premium segment (42% of sales) — coupled with a network of bars and restaurants, many of which sit amongst the world’s top 500 — the decision to move the expo to Singapore was an obvious choice for Vinexposium CEO Rodolphe Lameyse.
“Its strategic location makes it a hub of regional and global trade, and its business model revolves, among other things, around a very open-minded approach to international trade. Our desire to be part of this movement and to benefit from this dynamic sales environment is fully understood by our customers. Singapore was the best opportunity we could offer this in 2023, at a key time for returning to Asia.” — Vinexposium CEO Rodolphe Lameyse.
For trade partners interested in attending, Lameyse says Vinexpo provides turnkey business solutions to help buyers prepare for their visit to the expo and a club programme with a host of privileges and services.
Key event highlights
Through the Vinexpo Academy, Vinexpo Asia will host a high-level programme moderated by 70 industry experts, drawing on various formats and experts from across the globe to promote learning, inspiration, tastings and conversations at the exhibition.
Masterclasses, conferences and major tastings set the tempo for an exciting event, as well as nail-biting competitions like Battle of the Sommeliers, where professionals from the international sommelier scene compete at a one-of-a-kind tasting session. In the latter, we will get to see Singapore-based Mason Ng (ASI 2022 Best Sommelier for Asia and Oceania) battle it out with Chuan Ann (Malaysian semi-finalist at the Best Sommelier of the World competition) and Le Hoang Khanh Vi (Best Sommelier of Vietnam, also ranked as the Best Asian Sommelier in the 2023 Best Sommelier of the World competition) for the coveted title.
There will also be the Vinexpo Challenge, hosted by the 2023 Best Sommelier of the World, Raimonds Tomsons, where participants from the International Association of Sommeliers (ASI) will test their knowledge while they preview some outstanding wines.
For those keen on market insights, there will also be the IWSR conference moderated by Sarah Campbell (IWSR Research Director for APAC), which will touch on global and Asian consumption trends.
Vinexpo Academy will also welcome leading award ceremonies: The Drinks Business Asian Awards; and Star Wine List of the Year Asia, decided by a panel of the world’s best sommeliers.
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As for tastings, visitors can sign up for The Major Tasting by the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGCB), where over 100 Bordeaux Grands Crus will be showcased, and Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri World Tour, featuring the most highly awarded wines in the 2023 Vini d’Italia guide.
Members of the public can also sip, savour and indulge at Singapore's Bettane+Desseauve Grand Tasting 2023, which takes place on May 22 from 6pm to 10pm, a day before the exhibition opens, at $80 per person. Guests will enjoy over 100 domains rated over 3+ (out of five stars) and wines rated 90+ in the Nouveau Bettane+Desseauve Guide.
For the full programme line-up and ticketing information, visit vinexpoasia.com
Five questions for 28-year-old Mason Ng — ASI’s Best Sommelier of Asia and Oceania 2022 and participant at Vinexpo Asia
When did you become an official sommelier?
I started my career at the Les Amis group and eventually at Les Amis restaurant when I was 19. That was in 2014 when I took my Introductory and Certified Sommelier examination in one go — just 5 months after working in the F&B industry. At 21, I was recruited as the head sommelier at Atlas Bar. I later joined Park90 in 2018 as head sommelier, growing with the group as it expanded across the region.
What have you learnt on the job that the books don’t tell you?
I would say interacting with customers and blind tastings. Managing guest expectations and handling complaints is one that books can’t teach you. The other, blind tasting, is extremely crucial as your job, day in and day out, is constantly tasting wines. The important part is to learn what you are tasting, not just for the sake of tasting. Put that profile into your muscle memory.
If you weren’t a wine guy, what would you be doing?
I was supposed to go to Hong Kong to study accounting and finance. I gave up my degree to pursue my interest in wines. That said, I will still be a wine guy while I’m a banking guy. I would probably spend all my money on wines!
The top three to drink are a Cru Beaujolais, Jura reds (Poulsard or Trousseau), or a nice bottle of Chianti. They are simple to understand, relatively reasonably priced and light. I work with fine and complex wines daily, so resetting and drinking something casual and relaxing is nice.
Is there a worldwide decline in wine consumption?
I can’t say for the world, but I will speak for Singapore. I see many new wine bars popping up here, and the wine-drinking culture has increased quite a bit. More and more people are signing up for WSET courses to learn about wine appreciation which is a good sign. Nowadays, natural wines are just as easy to understand and approachable, which is a good entry point for people getting into wines.
What is your involvement at Vinexpo Asia?
At the Battle of the Sommeliers, me and my fellow sommeliers, Chuan Ann and Khanh Vi, are all looking to win this battle of wine and food pairing. We will taste the pairing with the audience, explain our choices and defend it in front of our colleagues and guests of the trade show. After tasting all the proposals, the audience will decide which sommelier was the most convincing and which pairing won over the most hearts (and palates).
I will also be a speaker at the Diamond Trophy Tasting of Sakura Japan Women's Wine Awards 2023 which received 4,222 entries from 28 countries this year. This award aims to find wines that go well with Japanese home cooking, increase wine consumption, and expand opportunities for women in the wine industry.