Another holiday season passes by and already I find myself, 11 days into 2018, browsing travel sites seeking my next holiday destination. Where to go this Chinese New Year? It’s got to be close, cheap and warm! Bali maybe? Or perhaps Vietnam? Actually, the winner for me this year is Thailand. Not because of the white sand beaches, aromatic stir-fries, temples and Singha beers, but for a wine tour.
Now, you’re probably thinking, the last time you tasted or even caught a whiff of a wine from Thailand you were probably disgusted. But let me tell you, times have changed.
Wine in Thailand is making huge waves in terms of its increased local production and also for its acceptance among local communities. Being a strict Buddhist state, it hasn’t been easy to get wine production off the ground but the late 1980s saw the first signs of acceptance back when the first vines were brought into the Hua Hin Hills by Rama IX, the King of Thailand, as a royal family project.
With Thailand’s tropical monsoon climate and proximity to the equator, the country only receives a maximum of 12 hours of sunlight each day. This can be a real challenge for winemakers. However, this hasn’t dented the tenacity of producers. In fact, it has forced them to develop innovative tropical viticulture. One Thai winery a few miles away from Bangkok grows its grapes from floating vines! When you’re looking at the beautiful scenery of Thailand, don’t be surprised if you find symmetrical rows of well-tended vines surrounded by palm trees and pineapple plantations or roaming elephants.
So you might be asking, can Thai wines actually be any good? Fear not, wineries in Thailand are often fitted with the latest equipment and employ traditionally trained oenologists. Many wineries have also won international awards and regularly receive high scores from the Asian Wine Review.
Still, since there is always a subjective element to wine, the best way to know if you personally like Thai wines is simply to try them yourself. Don’t hesitate to stop by Thai wineries like GranMonte Winery or Silverlake Vineyard if you’re on holiday in the area to learn more about these exciting local wines. Eddie McDougall
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