‘Prostitute wine’ and other tales from Carrefour’s spring fair in Beijing

One thing I dislike about wine fairs is enduring know-it-alls who blah blah blah all night long in an attempt to show how smart they are. You know a lot about wine? Great, now go do something useful, like cure cancer. Seriously, I’m not against wine knowledge, but I’m against people who use it to fulfill a deep need to dominate the conversation and be seen as ‘experts’ while exhibiting zero sense of humor. We are talking about fermented grape juice here. Then again, some people accuse me of trying to look like an expert because I take notes on the wines I taste. Reality: I take notes so that while suffering a raging hangover the day after, I will know which wines I most enjoyed to get it.

One thing I like about wine fairs is hanging with people who simply want to try samples and have fun. I pretty much did that at the Carrefour event on Friday. I had low expectations, since a friend called me earlier that night and said there were fewer distributors and wines this year. I still had a good time because:

  1. The wines were free.
  2. There were more than 100 to try.
  3. I brought four big glasses to replace the ‘egg cups’ provided by Carrefour.
  4. I gave them to Mr Hao, Ms Hao, and Miss Paris, who managed to be very opinionated but very amusing.
  5. The wines were free.

First things first: the continued dearth of water and spittoons at these Carrefour wine fairs. What happens when people can’t find spittoons? They dump unwanted wine in ice buckets, in empty boxes, even on the floor. And without water, they cannot rinse their glasses. I am guessing that buckets and water should be pretty easy to find since THE EVENT TAKES PLACE IN A HYPERMARKET.

Anyway, some memories of Carrefour Wine Fair, Spring 2010 Edition.

Casa Lapostolle Merlot 2005 from Chile
This episode starred Miss Paris, who is not particularly a fan of New World wines, finding them an adulteration of Old World ones.

Miss Paris (takes a sip and grimaces): Ah, this is prostitute wine.
Ms Hao: I like it!
Miss Paris (as if talking to a lost soul): Then you like prostitute wine.
Me: I like it, to0!
Miss Paris (mocking): It’s ‘bold’! It’s ‘strong’! It only wants you for your money.
Me: It’s fruity, too.
Miss Paris: It is like this! [Pretends to rip open her shirt to reveal her breasts.]
Me: And it’s fruity, too.

(Though I didn’t get to every table on Friday, MHD was my favorite for its Casa Lapostelle and Cape Mentelle wines and for popping open some Drappier Champagne. [Ed. Actually Drappier is distributed by DT Asia, but the stuff I drank was beside the Lapostelle and Mentelle, hence the confusion.)

-

Tanin Syrah Chardonnay 2008 from France
This episode stars an unusual grape combination.

Mr Hao: I like it.
Seller (sounding skeptical): Oh, you like it?
Mr Hao: It smells like nutmeg.
Seller (sounding surprised): You like that?
Mr Hao: It's my favorite so far. [To me] What do you think?
Me: I’ll be back in a second [leave to dump it out].

(China Beer Geek also gave it thumbs up, Miss Paris heaped disdain on it, and I found it OK, though I thought the first bottle was off.  I also liked the Chamarre Jurancon, a love-it-or-hate-it sweet wine from southern France, at this table.)

-

Chateau Laffitte (year?) from France
This episode stars a wine with a name similar to the most famous of wines in China: Chateau Lafite.

Me: Wow, Chateau Lafite! That’s expensive wine!
Seller: No, it’s not that Lafite. This one has two f’s and two t’s.
Me: Is there any difference in pronunciation from the Lafite with one “f” and one “t”?
Seller: None.
Me: What if it had three f’s and three t’s?
Seller (patiently): The same.
Me: Or for the Chinese market, with eight of each: Laffffffffitttttttte.
Seller: Do you like it?
Me: It smells like money.

There was also a Chateau Lafitte–one f and two t’s–at the fair.

-

Overheard wine evaluations
This is like sniffing a pine cone.
It’s good if you like horse blanket.
Snickers bar in a glass.
Funky barnyard.
It’s a big boom in the mouth.

Good times, and I think my favorite wine of the night, based on how many times I went back for more, was the Guigal Cotes du Rhone from ASC Fine Wines: toasty, well-rounded, with fresh fruit and some licorice and earthy aromas… definitely not a “prostitute wine.”

6 thoughts on “‘Prostitute wine’ and other tales from Carrefour’s spring fair in Beijing”

  1. Dear M Boyce,

    do you know anything about wines and their distributors in China?

    You are right, taking notes doesn’t make you a wine expert at all ! First I don’t think MHD was there and that they do Drappier. Second, to write down twice as good reason to like it that the wines were for free doesn’t make it good.

    You are cheap as I noticed few times that your favorites places were the cheapest ones in Beijing. I don’t understand if you have this website to help people, confuse them, or just to say what you think as people usually don’t listen to you when you meet them at a tasting or any other event.

    Beside this, I have to admit that I laugh a lot everytime I read one of your articles, you might not be a wine expert, but you are a funny guy for sure.

    Best regards

  2. @ oliver,

    Yes, I made a mistake, so that means I know nothing. Have another Syrah-Chardonnay and lighten up.

    Drappier Champagne is distributed by DT Asia and the dashing Thomas Briolett. Apologies to Thomas and his crew.

    Cheers, boyce

  3. “…know-it-alls who blah blah blah all night long in an attempt to show how smart they are. You know a lot about wine? Great, now go do something useful, like cure cancer. Seriously, I’m not against wine knowledge, but I’m against people who use it to fulfill a deep need to dominate the conversation and be seen as ‘experts’ while exhibiting zero sense of humor.”

    Irony, thy name is Oliver.

  4. Just reading this now and laughing out loud. Hope I can make it there this weekend to catch some of this entertainment myself. But yeah, I’ll be steering clear of the wine wankers too :)

Comments are closed.