If you are a newbie at anything, you can rest assured there will be a group, association or organization in Hong Kong to hand hold you through the learning curve.  Gary, the sole proprietor of Caliu was kind enough to invite me over to his office on Friday night for his weekly wine workshop.  It’s out in Kwun Tong, Kowloon side in the industrial areas so it’s a large space.

View from the frontImage

View from the back Image

Gary imports Spanish wines into HK.  His website – http://www.caliu.com.hk/

He is very passionate about Cava.  On learning my love for beer, he let me taste test his Spanish beers made in the Belgian style but repackaged with a Spanish label – Maset.  It’s a craft beer that is available at most craft beer restaurants.  It was a dark beer with lots of floral notes and it went down rather quick preparing my body for the onslaught of binge drinking on wine.



His pairing items were surprisingly simple and here I notice the different nuances in HK cheese tasting.  On soft cheese, the white crust is not cut out but left on as HK people like the bitter taste it provides.  I would have loved for the Parmesan to be cut into slices rather than little dice.  I mixed up the start time and arrived an hour early.

Parma ham – delicious.  On taste testing, I prefer Parma over Iberico any day of the week.  It doesn’t help that buying Parma reaps a significant material cost saving over Iberico.  Let’s hope now that Spain is the largest producer of wine for export that they will do the same to the pork industry.

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The bread to go with the cheese and parma ham

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This is the wine list for the night:

1. Maset del Lleo Brut Nature CAVA (sparkling wine)

2. Maset del Lleo Verjejo (white still wine)

3. Cantina del Vermentino Monti Moscato (sparkling wine)

4. Cotes d’Avanos Chardonnay (white still wine)

5. Maset 1+1 Merlot + Cabernet Franc (red still wine)

6. St-Roch Cotes de Rhone (red still wine)

7. Frappato DOC 2012 (red still wine)

8. Castillo de Urtau tempranillo 2009 (red still wine)


Wine educator and sommelier Chris Chow would be the host for the night taking us through the tasting.

Appearance: clarity, depth of colour, CO2 bubbles, colour rim, white wine and red wine; even viscosity comes into play.

Smell: floral, spicy, fruitty, vegetal, animal, woody, burnt, chemical, mineral and others.

Palate: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami

Touch: body, astringency, temperature, CO2, spritz and texture

The rest of the night touched upon old world vs new world, wine making methods and wine varietals.  11 pages with 4 slides per page of presentation materials.  To start the night with beer on an empty stomach and continually drinking one glass to sample put me under rather quickly.  I did not puke on myself nor in the cab and the notes were tucked away in my breast pocket for safe keeping.  I know I enjoyed the beer.  The bread was not sweet tasting so I enjoyed it immensely.  If only it was left toasting inside I would have spent the night devouring bread rather than self medicating on wines.  I would have loved to the cheese pairings to include manchego in keeping with his spanish theme.  Iberico would have been too expensive but Parma is a nice sub and I doubt anyone would notice the difference, smoked fatty pigs.  It was a great way to wine down my week and great company.

Do look up Gary if you are in the quest to fast track your wine education.  His contact details: Gary@caliu.com.hk

I don’t plan to be a sommelier nor take any formal wine training as I only care to drink so all future wine tasting notes will use the terms located above.  I don’t feel the need to attain designations to show I enjoy wine consumption.  Too often Hong Kong standards dictate the following – designation is merely an embellishment of a résumé in a culture in which titles are prized over merit or real talent.  I for one will chose not to conform.  Let’s go back to drinking and eating.

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