With Decanter's first Asia Wine Awards taking place in September, find out more about new judge Ian Dai, a project manager for the wine social networking website iWine.
Tell us a little about yourself – Where are you based and where do you work?
I am based in Shanghai and work as a project manager at iWine.com. iWine.com is a social networking site for wine, aiming to promote the wine culture in China.
How did you first become interested in wine?
I joined the wine business first and then fell in love with wine as time went on. What started off as just a drink for me became a piece of art.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a wine expert?
Wine is all about enjoyment.
Is there a person or producer you particularly admire within the wine industry?
The very first sommelier in mainland China, as his endeavour and persistence created a new era for the Chinese wine industry.
Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment?
Jean Foillard’s Côte du Py Morgon.
What are your favourite food and wine combinations?
Amarone paired with pork braised with soy sauce. When we try to pair wine with Chinese food, most of the times it doesn’t create better experience because it’s not the kind of taste we are familiar with. But Amarone and pork braised with soy sauce is a great match – the ripe flavours in the wine pairs very well with the sweetness of the dish, and the acidity cuts though the fat.
Who was your most memorable customer, and why?
A Italian lady who would always come to restaurant alone and loved to share wine with chef, sommelier, manager and sometimes other guests. She taught me a lesson about happiness – “Happiness is like a kiss, you must share it to enjoy it” (quote by Bernard Meltzer)
Is there a strong wine scene in your city?
It’s improving, but we still have long way to go.
Have you noticed any new trends emerging? What are customers asking for at the moment?
Red Bordeaux used to dominate the market but white wines are getting more and more popular, especially Riesling.
Finally, what are you looking forward to most about judging at the Decanter Asia Wine Awards?
To learn from the most experienced wine judges in the world. I also hope the competition will encourage more wines enter the Chinese market, to improve its diversity.
Written by Decanter