Boozy Saturday at the Hilton

Hilton's annual bacchanal, otherwise known as the Food and Wine Experience, was held last weekend (sorry for the delay in reporting back) and it was a really great party. The crowd was a mix of industry insiders, wine connoisseurs, the "see and be seen" crowd, and those who wanted to get really, really hammered.

The format of the event was simple, spread out over 2 floors around the hotel's atrium was table after table of wine, you paid your RMB200, got in, grabbed a glass, and roamed. Despite this being the 12th year this event has been held,it was my first time attending and so I didn't have any strategy other than the basic (whites the first go round, reds the next time).
Grace Vineyard's offeringsOfferings from Aussino

When there are nearly 1,000 wines to choose from, one really needs a system, but with over 7 hours to try them all, I'm sure more than a few made that their goal. Old world, new world, and even some rarer Chinese wines were on offer making this a must for any wine consumer who wanted to prepare his order list. Beyond that, there were also cocktail and beer stations if the wine got to be too much.

wine options galoreJust a small example of Grace Vineyards' offerings

The event was wonderful, though I still came away feeling a little let down. If you're going to have people drinking for 7 hours, then you must feed them, the logic is actually pretty simple. However, despite this being deemed the food and wine experience, food was hard to come by. The advertised food stalls consisted of 5 or so different food companies, including a bakery, a chocolatier, and a cheese maker (with only the cheese maker offering decent samples). There were meat "cooking displays", though they weren't well organized and those that attended were ravenous. By 5 pm, there was already people lining up at the restaurant prepared for the 6 pm buffet. Considering the amount of wine on offer, RMB200 for all that PLUS a buffet was a really good deal, but just because its a bargain is no reason to half-ass it on the buffet, which, considering the quality of the options, is what they did.

meat cooking demoThe meat cooking demonstration, the Kobe was transcendent, but everyone was ravenous by this point

My only other tip to the organizer, limit the number of attendees. It was cramped quarters with all the people and tables and it somewhat lessened the experience. That said, I definitely plan on going back next year, though this time prepared with a tasting notebook and pen(s) and definitely not on an empty stomach.

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