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Viet Nam hosts International Wine Festival, charity event

Oct 12, 2007

VietNamNews - Reasons to pop the cork multiply this November as Viet Nam hosts its fourth International Wine Challenge. The challenge affords an opportunity to sample hundreds of regional and international wines as well as cuisine from the city’s top chefs.

Moreover, it’s a bacchanal minus the guilt as all event proceeds are donated to the Viet Nam National Fund for children to help those suffering from the effects of Agent Orange.

Vine Group, under the direction of Donald Berger, has paired with the Vietnam Alcohol, Beer and Beverage Association to bring judges together from around the globe and from a variety of professions to evaluate a smattering of bottles in multiple blind tasting sessions.

Wine expert and author Robert Joseph, who chairs the International Wine Challenge in London and in parts of Asia, will also head the event here in Viet Nam, and the awards will range from Gold medals to seals of approval. They will be issued for international and local categories as well as a Best Value category.

The judging will take place on November 11 and 12 and is followed the very next day with the crowning event, the Gala Awards Ceremony at the Daewoo Hanoi Hotel. For US$100 per person or $1,200 for a corporate table of ten, the public is invited to watch the awards while sipping award-winning sparklings and snacking on canapes. A seven-course dinner follows with each dish specially prepared by a different chef to accompany an award winning wine.

If food, drink and charity have not provided sufficient allure, the event will also have live jazz music during the dinner performed by Quyen Van Minh, and subsequently David Minh Duc will stage a fashion show on the "ao dai" employing a wine-inspired colour scheme. A charity auction comprises the grand finale with a host of desirable take-aways, from tasty bottles to travel packs, that all serve to help children in need.

However, even those who miss the gala can still get their sips in on November 17 when the Sofitel Plaza Hotel hosts a tasting of award-winning wines for only VND100,000 ($6) per person.

Overall, this year’s event seeks to promote wine and wine-making in Viet Nam, but instead of gearing the competition toward connoisseurs, the contest aims to help market reasonably priced wine of excellent quality for new buyers. Viet Nam may still be in its infancy in terms of wine production and consumption when compared with other regions, but with the increasing literature on the health benefits of wine in combination with Viet Nam’s growing economy, challenge officials and wine purveyors believe the market will only improve in the upcoming years.

Chef and Vine Group director, Donald Berger stated that the market has already done so during his time in the country. He said Viet Nam "is coming up to international standards" and that the country’s tastes "[are] getting more and more sophisticated."

In 2004, the challenge raised $24,000 for charity and this year Berger said the competition sought to double that number, helping build surgical and rehabilitation centres for those suffering from the effects of Agent Orange.

vietnamnews 12-10-2007

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