Michael, Kath & I recently travelled to Taiwan to meet with our distributors - Allen Wine. Here’s a few highlights - just a little taste of the time we spent in the capital of Taipei.
We met with our lovely host June Chen for lunch - xia long bao (soup dumplings) at the famous Din Tai Fung. A quick tour of some wine shops to get a broad picture of the Taiwan wine market and a tourist stop at the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall for a little culture. Our first event was a small dinner, held at an Argentinian restaurant in Taoyuan. A little apprehension when June tells us that not many of the guests will speak English, and she will not be joining us. We have the company consultant/translator there to help us out, but after a few glasses of Phoenix, we find some hidden English skills being discovered. A definite highlight was being invited back to share some Taiwanese high mountain tea with one of the guests in their home. Not often we would sit around with our friends in Australia after dinner and share some tea, certainly not with such ceremony & procedure around the tea preparation! An incredible experience to be invited to share.
The following day we met June at the office of Allen wines, and I must admit I was distracted for more than a minute by their incredible wine cellar! A room full of some of the best bottles of Bordeaux. First growths & back vintages - we are in some serious company here! The distraction is interrupted by a lunch stop just down the road, some traditional Taiwanese cuisine, so many amazing flavours!
Our first tasting for the day is at a newly opened wine shop - “wine o’clock” (where we spot Phoenix sitting proudly on the shelf!) and then onto the stunning Bacchus Wine Bar who stocks our Heritage range of wines.
The lovely staff at Bacchus have organised a game of wine options - a pop quiz on all things Penley (just to make sure they were listening…) followed by a blind tasting of the Tolmer & Hyland. A great energy in the room, and two lucky winners were taking home a bottle of Penley wine for correctly guessing the wines.
The photo of the three of us looking absolutely shocked - this is the moment we were told to “just try it” - no, not the food, not the wine - but the approaching typhoon that was due to hit Taipei the following day. Eek!!
A few things we learnt during our time in Taipei:
The Taiwanese love to eat. Some days it felt like there were no gaps between food stops. So much incredible food to taste, so little space in our bellies to fit it in. Somehow the locals managed to both out-eat and out-drink us on many occasions!
Some Taiwanese language learnt over dinner - Je Hao He “the wine is delicious.”
Typhoons are a regular occurrence, when they are serious, the city shuts down for “typhoon vacation” - but certainly nothing to worry the locals. For us, just some wind & rain - nothing to stop us taking the ferry!
Stinky tofu, a Taiwanese speciality, really is stinky. And they really do eat it! Tasting this is certainly not an experience any of us will forget in a hurry!
A fantastic few days in Taipei, and an enormous thank you to our host June from Allen Wines for making us feel so welcome (not so much for suggesting I try the delicacy of the fish eye though… a story for another day!)