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HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Art of Wine Tasting

Pattaya Mail PC Classic race next month

Celebrating Children’s Day in a tiny village

New “one stop shop” in town

SKAL International Pattaya and the East bids for World Congress 2001

Local real estate office expands

The Russian community celebrates its own Orthodox festivities

Size does matter!

The Art of Wine Tasting

by Ranjith Chandrasiri

This is the first of a two part feature on the noble art of wine appreciation. At the end, there is an offer which will interest all wine lovers.

Drinking wine is simple: tilt the glass and swallow. Tasting wine is more of a challenge. You need special tools, the proper environment, keen concentration, a good memory and a vivid imagination.

That’s why wine lovers learn to taste. We know that the effort we put into understanding and appreciating wine, as opposed to simply enjoying it, pays bigger dividends. Really tasting wine adds an extra dimension to the basic daily routine of eating and drinking. It turns obligation into pleasure, a daily necessity into a celebration.

Set and Setting

So what is wine tasting all about? Like any skill, serious tasting requires a combination of technique and experience. The more you do it, the better you become. Given an unidentified wine, an expert taster, using only his senses and his memory, can pick out the grape variety, the wine’s vintage, its region of origin, even the specific winery that produced it.

Blind tasting is a great parlour game. But the real goal is to understand a wine, not to unmask it. Through a concentrated application of all the senses, and by comparison of the immediate sense data with memories of other wines tasted, the serious taster can decipher a wine’s biography to an amazing extent, including the growing season that produced it, the approach of the winemaker who created it and its relationship to other wines of similar type or origin. Every bottle of wine is a message, the physical embodiment of a specific place and time captured and transmitted for the pleasure of the taster.

The effort to understand wine through tasting, and to share that understanding with other tasters, creates a common experience that builds bonds and friendships among people. Tasting it at table should not be a solitary activity and fine wine should not be drunk without comment. In essence it is easy to describe what one senses, provided one has made a sufficient effort to notice it. What is clearly perceived can be clearly expressed.

The techniques of tasting enhance the ability to perceive wine clearly. They’re actually pretty simple and follow through a well-defined series of steps logically. Some of the procedures may seem unnatural or pretentious to the uninitiated, but they’ve been developed over centuries to achieve specific results. After a while, they become automatic. Swirling wine in the glass to release the aromas may feel clumsy at first, but now I often find myself at the table swirling my glass of water.

First of all, consider the circumstances. Not all wines deserve or repay close analysis. If you’re drinking wine out of paper cups at a food hall, even if it is a good wine, any attempt to taste seriously will be wasted effort and probably perceived as snobbery. Professional tasters prefer a day-lit, odour-free room with white walls and tabletops, in order to throw the wine into the clearest possible relief.

Remember that tasting is not a test. Your subjective response is more important than any “right answers.” The bottom line is simply: wine that tastes good to you is good wine.

And no matter how advanced your technique, tasting is not an exact science. Sensitivities vary widely when it comes to flavour and aroma. These differences are both physiological and cultural.

The goal in tasting wine is not to “find” the same aromas and flavours some other taster is describing. If you hone your own perceptual abilities and develop your own vocabulary to articulate them, you’ll not only derive more pleasure from the wine itself, but also stimulate better communication between you and the friends who are sharing the bottle.

Visual Appreciation

The first step in your examination is visual. Fill the glass about one-third full, never more than half-full. Pick it up by the stem. This may feel awkward at first, but there are good reasons: holding the glass by its bowl hides the liquid from view; fingerprints blur its colour; the heat of your hand alters the wine’s temperature.

Focus in turn on hue, intensity and clarity. Each requires a different way of looking. The true colour, or hue, of the wine is best judged by tilting the glass and looking at the wine through the rim, to see the variation from the deepest part of the liquid to its edges. Intensity can best be gauged looking straight down through the wine from above. Clarity - whether the wine is brilliant, or cloudy with particles - is most evident when light is shining sideways through the glass.

Next comes the swirling. This too can feel unnatural, even risky if your glass is too full and your clothes brand-new. But besides stirring up the full range of colours, it prepares the wine for the next step, the olfactory examination. The easiest way to swirl is to rest the base of the glass on a table, hold the stem between thumb and forefinger, and gently rotate the wrist. Right-handers will find a counter-clockwise motion easier, left-handers the reverse.

Move the glass until the wine is dancing, climbing nearly to the rim. Then stop. As the liquid settles back into the bottom of the glass, a transparent film will appear on the inside of the bowl, falling slowly and irregularly down the sides in the wine’s “tears” or “legs.”

(Next week Ranjith will continue, describing in depth how to “nose” a wine, and will also reveal a wonderful offer for all Pattaya’s wine lovers - professional or amateur.)

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Pattaya Mail PC Classic race next month

Royal Cliff Beach Resort International Regatta shapes up

The “Pattaya Mail PC Classic - Royal Cliff Beach Resort International Regatta” is scheduled to be sailed off the resort hotel on Saturday, February 24.

Laser greats, Neil Semple (L) and Charlie Zbinden will be there

It will be organized by the Royal Varuna Yacht Club, which has, over the years, maintained friendly relations with its illustrious neighbour situated in the contiguous bay to the Royal Varuna at Pattaya Point. In fact, the Club has looked to the Royal Cliff as the ideal location for such up-market social events as the Awards Night for last year’s Volvo Fireball World Championships. It was an evening that the participants from around the world - especially now, when most of them are in the grip of a bitter Northern European winter - are still writing about.

Royal Varuna Yacht Club flag commodore Don Mackenzie regards the Royal Cliff support as a most positive step forward in promoting sailing and yacht racing as a means of furthering Pattaya’s image as an ideal haven for marine sports generally. Don also sees this forthcoming regatta as a forerunner of other yacht racing events supported by both the public and private sectors in Pattaya.

Richard Van Den Heuvel, the Royal Varuna sailing secretary, expects good fleets from the monohulls, the multihulls and the Optimists. He will organize the racing out off the Royal Cliff Beach Resort, with starts and finishes close in to the hotel beach front, thus ensuring maximum exposure for hotel guests and other spectators on the shore for this environmentally-friendly and colourful activity.

Managing director of the Royal Cliff Beach Resort, Panga Vathanakul supports the event

Tidal conditions will not permit a landing in front of the hotel itself; rather the fleet will then proceed to the Royal Wing beach, on the northern side of the complex, after which the participants, race management team and supporters, numbering some 100 people, will enjoy Royal Cliff beach-side hospitality and an Awards Ceremony to be presided over by Panga Vathanakul, managing director of the exotic five-star resort.

Inaugurated in 1995 to celebrate the sixtieth birthday of Peter Cummins, the Pattaya Mail scribe and 10th commodore of the Royal Varuna Yacht Club (1979 - 1980), the Pattaya Mail PC Classic is now regarded as one of the coveted events on Royal Varuna’s tightly packed calendar. Sailing secretary Richard hopes for some 40 craft at the start line and will issue the Notice of Race shortly, when details are finalized. The Classic will be open to all yachts affiliated to Royal Varuna or any registered yacht club.

“PC” is already preparing his OK dinghy for the event: a rare sighting of the “East Sea Rider” (read, “Easy Rider” (writer?))

The two major class winners will be awarded wood replicas of the PC Classic permanent trophy, cut from native Tasmanian woods and hand-tooled into the shape of Australia’s island state which, fortuitously, is actually shaped like a shield.

Special trophies are being prepared for the minor placings in each class and all competitors will be presented with ‘designer’ polo shirts.

Any enquiries could be directed to the Pattaya Mail, tel. (038) 411-240-1, 413-240-1; fax (038) 427-596; e-mail: [email protected]; or the Royal Varuna yacht Club, tel. (038) 250-116; fax (038) 250-115.

Watch this space for more information on the event.

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Celebrating Children’s Day in a tiny village

And the experience of roughing it...

by Lesley Warner

My friend suggested that I might like to see Children’s Day celebrated in her family’s village. Although only a tiny village outside Rang Sit, the whole village was celebrating the day with enthusiasm. 

The local children were having a great time enjoying the magic show, balloons, clowns and games.

There were excited children all over the place dancing and watching the show, having a great time, with a magic show, balloons, clowns and games. The local vendors were doing a roaring trade, the children were dressed in their ‘Sunday’ best, everyone was clapping and laughing - the atmosphere was great.

My sleeping quarters

By the time it ended it was too late to return to Pattaya, so we had to beg for accommodation for the night. The family proudly told me that they had two houses and we could have the other one. With this, the master of the house jumped in my car (at this point I became the passenger in my own car for the rest of my stay) and drove me down a dirt track to a shack in the middle of a rice field, mine for the night! He then took my car and my money to buy beer and we all sat on the dirt track and drank it. 

It was their day, and they loved it!

Then we all piled into my car and went to the local Karaoke bar; they sang and I watched the resident spider across the screen as he feasted on the mosquitoes that were missing me until it was time for me to pay the bill.

We were then taken to our ‘home’ for the night, and it was an experience I will not forget (and do not want to repeat). The mosquito net over my bed was rendered useless by the holes in it; there were more mosquito’s trapped inside with me than there were in the room. 

My accommodation for the night

The shack had no door and although not a nervous person, I couldn’t settle. Have you ever noticed how repetitious a bird can sound when you can’t sleep as dawn approaches? I eventually dozed and was woken by a strange man delving into the clothes hanging on a piece of string. I established that we had turned him out of his home for the night and decided at that point I had roughed it enough and would return to Pattaya post haste. I was told that the family had lived in this house for years!

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New “One Stop Shop” in town

Thailand One Stop Service, owned and operated by Amorn Malhotra, celebrated its official opening last week. The ceremonial ribbon cutting service was performed by the guest of honor, the mayor of Pattaya, Pairat Suttithamrongsawat, who wished Amorn success in this new business venture. Family, friends, and business associates also joined in the celebrations wishing all the best in his new venture.

Mayor Pairat officially opens the doors of Thailand One Stop Service by cutting the ceremonial ribbon.

Thailand One Stop Service offers company registration and formation, business licensing, real estate services, visa arrangement and work permits, legal consultation and insurance matters. The service is available to both Thais and foreigners and the center is open from Monday to Friday 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays until 2 p.m. Thailand One Stop Service is located on Pattaya 3rd Road near the Pattaya Driving Range.

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SKAL International Pattaya and the East bids for World Congress 2001

This month’s meeting for the Pattaya Skalleagues at the Sher ‘e’ Punjab Restaurant on Beach Road was full of excitement. The Skal Club of Pattaya and the East is in the running to host the World Skal Club Congress. There are 7 other locations bidding to host the congress, with the closest being Colombo, Sri Lanka, but should the bid prove successful, the most likely location for such a large meeting would be PEACH at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort.

The Skal Club of Pattaya and the East met at the Sher ‘e’ Punjab Restaurant on Beach Road last week and discussed the possibility of hosting the World Skal Club Congress next October.

Thai Airways International has offered their support for the bid, and would offer special international rates for Skal members.

Andrew Wood, secretary for the Skal Club in Pattaya and GM of the Royal Cliff Beach Resort is following the bid closely.

The proposed Skal World Congress 2001 will be held from October 14 to 19 and would bring to Pattaya over 2,000 Skal Club International members from around the world, all of whom are involved professionally in the tourism and travel industry.

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Local real estate office expands

Another dimension added

AA Homefinders officially opened their second office last week. The new office, located in Jomtien, is a cooperative agreement with long standing V.J. Land and will provide new homes and land at affordable prices.

Kruawan Thaveetong (left) presents flowers to Sakdinai Jinanarong of VJ Land, Peter Smith and Paul Davies, directors of AA Homefinders, congratulating them on their new venture together.

The additional aspect of in-house financing is a new concept for the company, as well as in-house legal services from Sakdinai (Sam) Jinanarong, lawyer and partner for V.J. Land.

The opening of AA Homefinders 2nd office is a milestone for this young company, which began operations just under 18 months ago and which has fought hard to maintain a high standard of service and strong business ethics, a factor that is absolutely necessary to stay in business. “We want to make our customers feel safe that everything is above board,” says Paul Davies, managing director.

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The Russian community celebrates its own Orthodox festivities

The Russian Orthodox Church follows the Julian Calendar for its Feast Days. The most significant of these during January include the Nativity of Our Lord on January 7th, New Year’s Day on January 14th and most recently the Feast of Theophany (Christ’s baptism) which was celebrated on January 19th.

Victor Kriventsov, director of sales Eastern Europe of the Royal Cliff Beach Resort escorts Very Rev. Father Oleg Tcherepanin to the festivities after the service.

The only Orthodox service in Thailand to commemorate their Xmas was held for 180 Russian followers in the Royal Cliff Beach Resort, with the service conducted by the Very Reverend Father Oleg Tcherepanin, the Head of the Orthodox Church in S.E. Asia.

Following the religious devotions, they were joined by many Russian tourists who celebrated with a buffet for 800 people at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort. Other Russian tourists were similarly catered for by the Garden Beach Resort in Naklua, with over 500 attending the celebration with music and entertainment from the children from the Pattaya Orphanage.

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Size does matter!

Pattaya has been visited by two Dutchmen who are here to prove that size does matter. Marcel and Berend are two bodybuilders who have reached the pinnacle of their profession, because to stay at the top you have to apply yourself very professionally to your bodybuilding.

This rugged mountain bike offered little resistance to this man of steel

Berend, who holds the title of the strongest man in Europe, has been at the game for 10 years, is a solid mass of muscle and it is not just for show. His muscles work. He can tow a Boeing 747 down a runway and can overturn cars, with just the power in his arms and legs.

Marcel, on the other hand, has hung up his towel and sweatshirt to take on the job as organiser of the world strong man contests, but still has more muscle than 95% of the people around.

As the Doc panics in the foreground, Berend uses his own method of fitting Doc’s Mira into a tighter parking space out front of the Pattaya Mail offices.

For bodybuilders such as these two, size does matter, but it is the power they can unleash from their bodies that gives them their size. So if you see someone lifting their car into a tight parking spot - let him be, it’s only Berend having a little limber up!

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