Bars & Clubs Wine & Dine

Your wine questions answered: We chat to Marco Vazques from Jebsen Fine Wines

Can the beauty of fine wine really be taught? 

Jebsen Fine Wines has six offices in Asia and a portfolio including many of the premium wineries from around the world – among them, Champagne Bollinger and an extensive list of Bordeaux Grand Crus. Here, the company’s Fine Wine Manager Marco Vazquez puts his wine expertise to the test by answering questions from Expat Living readers.

Many of my extremely health-conscious friends refuse to drink anything other than organic wines but I don’t really like the earthy overtones. I’m told that this is due to the presence of sulphites. Where can I find sulphite-free wines?

There’s really no such thing as a sulphite-free wine as sulphites are naturally occurring at low levels during the fermentation process of all grapes. Additional sulphur, in the form of sulphur dioxide, is a preservative used to combat oxidisation in wines and has been used in the winemaking process for decades. On the other hand, winemakers are now more educated in the harmful nature of this ingredient, so they use as little of it as possible. Most wines have sulphur limits far below the legal limits so there really is no need for concern.

I love wine but my wife refuses to drink it, preferring to stick to spirits. How can I teach her about the beauty of fine wine?

I think the best way to introduce someone to the pleasures of wine is to start them off gently with something sweet and white, progressing to reds later. A great first wine might be a fresh, aromatic and slightly sweet wine like Italy’s Moscato d’Asti, then maybe a dry Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand and finally a light, fruity red wine such as a Pinot Noir. Once she has discovered the delights of these, try her with a heavier red like Shiraz or Cabernet which both have more tannin, structure and complexity.

Many of my friends who are wine snobs are now refusing to drink Sauvignon Blanc. Is my favourite wine really going out of fashion?

The Sauvignon Blanc grape is grown all over the world, from the Loire Valley in France to northeast Italy, South Africa, California and, of course, New Zealand. So there are dozens of styles to choose from. If you’re bored of the typical ultra aromatic, crisp and acidic styles from New Zealand, why not try a more elegant and refined style from Pouilly Fume or Sancerre in the Loire Valley. Sauvignon Blanc can taste completely different when fermented or aged for a short period of time, so don’t ever banish a grape variety from your wine repertoire before you know all the styles available.

With the stock market in turmoil is wine a good alternative investment for my savings?

Wines, like any investment, are not a sure thing, but over the last decade many wine investment funds outperformed all the major stock indexes and provided investors with huge profits. There are only a few true investment-grade wines and these wines need to be purchased “en primeur” (as futures) to be able to capture their full investment potential.