Introducing Wink Hotel’s Poppin’ Corks Wine Fest

Wine can be a bit elitist. Start with the names you can’t pronounce. It’s ree-oh-hah for Rioja and bor-doh, not bor-dox, for Bordeaux. You knew that, of course. Then there’s your grip of the glass. Should you take a dandyish hold of the base, put a pinky in the air, or cup the bowl? And does it really matter? Fermented grape juice is fun. Especially when it’s paired with some of the country’s coolest DJs, chefs, and artists. Enter: Poppin’ Corks Wine Fest. 

Đọc bài viết bằng tiếng Việt

Poppin’ Corks, sponsored by SPEEDPOS and Ly Gia Vien, is Wink Hotels’ inaugural wine festival held on 26th February from 3pm to 10pm. The event combines music festival vibes with seven wine suppliers and brands: Viva House of Wine, Wine Embassy, Da Loc, Vinifera, Vinobeer, and Vang Nai Con. And all seven have promised not to shame you for wrong pronunciation or the incorrect grip. 

Benjamin Thomine from Viva House of Wine with their Gato Negro Sauvignon Blanc.

Viva House of Wine really personify the Poppin’ Corks vibe. “We’re about good wine, good people, and good moments,” they tell us, “and always with the right bottle ready whether you’re a newbie, an old friend, or an enthusiast!” But importantly, they remind us wine shouldn’t be distant and elitist, “so events like this are important as a meeting point for the industry and consumers to learn about each other…and about wine. And with good music playing, the taste is even more divine.”

So as not to be exclusive, there’s cider and beer from Dalat Cider and East West Brewing Co. And the centerpiece of the event is the Wink Space lobby reimagined as a festival field. “What’s the connection between craft beer and music? Everything,” East West’s head brew Sean Thommen tell us. “I have always referenced music and styles and genres to help me explain the brewing culture and its history. It is almost uncanny how they relate. Some beers come across like rock and roll while others like classical music. I could go on forever…”

The crew are sharing a space with Dalat Cider, “a drink made from 100% fresh fruit from Da Lat, Vietnam – it’s bold, bright and refreshing and it supports local farmers,” Julie Nguyen tells us proudly. Although cider is relatively new in Vietnam, they have high hopes for the brand. “The flavor and drinkability of cider translates to Vietnamese food and culture really naturally,” Julie adds, “as we’ll show you at Poppin’ Corks. It’s always great to have the community coming together to showcase what Vietnam has to offer.”

Classic Fine Foods popping up with friends Viva House of Wine.

At Poppin’ Corks, there’s a main stage that’s a camper van with DJ sets and live music, and complimentary fine French cheese and Spanish cold cuts from Classic Fine Foods. And on the Wink terrace there are cookouts by award-winning restaurant Ngoc Suong Seafood & Bar and borderless cuisines by up-and-coming Habiba Kitchen

So as not to be exclusive, discover Dalat Cider and East West Brewing Co. at Poppin’ Corks.

Besides the epic events at Saigon Outcast, there’s nothing quite like Poppin’ Corks. The name, Poppin’ Corks, was chosen to fit the carefree vibe – shaken bottles, corks flying out of the backseat of a convertible, wind in your hair, Modern Talking blasting on the stereo. But also, because corks symbolize what wine was, not what it is, and the party wants to pop the old stereotypes. 

Meet the team from Hedonism: Phuong and Trung.

As their name suggests, Hedonism get the idea. “One study we saw said people get up to 15% more pleasure from their wine by pairing it with the right kind of music,” the team tell us, “so a well-chosen combination of both sounds like a guarantee for a wonderful time.” The Hedonism Wine Hub is at 35 Xuan Thuy. There they present their globally sourced, high-quality wines to their guests during tastings and food pairing events.

Chris Thompson with his beloved bottle of Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon from Domaines Barons De Rothschild (Latife).

At Poppin’ Corks they’re introducing their partner Domaines Barons De Rothschild (Latife) from the world-renowned Rothschild winemaking dynasty. “We recommend the silky, flavorful Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon from DBR (Lafite),” they add, “and we strongly believe wine lovers and music lovers should join forces and create events like Poppin’ Corks to promote the enjoyment of good wines, good music, food & wine pairings…”

Axel Riffaud from Vinobeer. “We’re happy to be bringing good vibes and good energy to Poppin’ Corks.”

“The wine industry, when we arrived, was a little boring…there’s no other way to describe it,” Vinobeer tell us, “the selection and overpricing was like making a terrible discovery in the back of a dusty supermarket shelf.” Happily, things are better, “thanks to the importers and distributors like the ones gathered at Poppin’ Corks.” Vinobeer are playing their part too, by focusing on natural, organic and biodynamic wines. “It’s real juice!” the team laugh, “Try a glass of a nice natural wine from Marcel Lapierre in Beaujolais or Foradori in Italy for example for their pure expression of the fruit that’s irresistible…” The team also take a very music-minded approach to wine. “Well, not just us – we’ve heard of wineries playing music to the plants in their vineyards! Apparently it works, not to get too new age about it, and plants respond to good vibes and good energy too. And we’re happy to be bringing that spirit to Poppin’ Corks.”

Julien Plantey from Vinifera: “Good wine and good music have an emotional intensity!”

Vinifera are among the OGs in the wine business. Founded in 2002, they have a portfolio of around 500 wines, and offices in Hanoi, Danang, and Saigon. But despite their heritage, they’re as excited as anyone about the growing popularity of wine. “We really see the younger generation drinking wine now, they’re curious and open to discovery,” Vinifera tell us. “To make someone fall in love with wine, we’d probably give them a glass of Bogle Petite Syrah – amazing, aged in oak barrels for ten months, with vanilla, spice and nutmeg aromas that lead into bramble berries and juniper…”

Vinifera are excited about connecting wine with music too. “It’s 100% about feelings and emotions! Both wine and music are so good at making us feel something,” they smile, “good wine and good music have an emotional intensity!”

Luan Khanh from SPEEDPOS and Vang Nai Con.

At the other end of the spectrum is newly born Vang Nai Con. Their mission is simple – offer reasonably-priced, imported wines from Chile, The States and France, and help local drinkers move from beer to wine while they nhau.

Phu, Vang Nai Con’s manager.

“We’re really community-minded, building a base of wine lovers in Saigon and beyond – we definitely feel there’s a strong and healthy lifestyle to wine drinking,” they tell us. And they’re doing it with wines like Pudu and Clos de Bois…and with some eclectic music and entertainment. “At our store, you can listen to acoustic music, and later enjoy some belly dancing,” they tell us. 

Francois Carteau from “the young and dynamic” Wine Embassy.

Wine Embassy is a young brand too. “Young and dynamic,” they elaborate, “with an emphasis on sourcing directly from boutique wineries with great history – and we have around 150 wines right now…and growing.” They’ve also noticed broadening consumer tastes and a wider range of products: “more organic and natural wines, from old world to new world.” Right now, they’re especially excited about their Santa Julia “Tintillo”, a blend of Malbec and Bonarda from Mendoza, Argentina that will feature at Poppin’ Corks and that’s “a revolutionary way to discover wine.” And they’re excited about the festival too. “What a pleasure, to see people coming together to celebrate life, wine in hand. What more do we need in life?”

The dapper gentlemen from pioneers Da Loc, Viet Hoang and Dung.

Da Loc are undisputed industry pioneers “since 1995 we’ve been building up and developing a long-term relationship with the world’s leading suppliers, as well as the most demanding customers in all provinces of the country,” the team tell us. All those years in the business have given them an unparalleled view of the industry’s evolution. “From nothing, the wine industry has exploded and there’s never been as diverse a selection as there is now,” the say. “But we’d still probably serve champagne to a guest wanting to fall in love with wine – “It’s a symbol of status, prestige and quality, but also a symbol of joy and celebration!”

Ngoc Suong Seafood & Bar have been selling the freshest seafood since 1955. They’ve rightfully been recognized with the prestigious Essence of Asia Award last year. And at their Ngoc Suong Seafood & Bar branch, open since 2018, they’ve always taken a music and event-minded approach to their open air, modern nhau-style venue.

Vinh Q. Le, CEO and executive chef of Ngoc Suong.

Tao, VSoul and My Anh have all done recent dinner sets, serenading diners with smooth modern Vietnamese R&B and hip hop. It’s a perfect pairing with their elevated seafood dishes, “like our fourth generation fish carpaccio or lobster grilled with truffle, corn and bone marrow that we pair with eclectic wines offered by a lot of the suppliers here at the event,” the Ngoc Suong team tell us. At the event, they’ll be doing a seafood BBQ cookout on the terrace along with Habiba Kitchen. 

Youssef El Hamdaouy from Habiba Kitchen: “It’s beautiful to have the chance to come together at events like this!”

“Hummus!” Habiba Kitchen tell us, when we ask about one dish that they serve that will make people fall in love with the brand. “Flavorful, nutritious, and in terms of story, it’s a perfect representation of the Habiba vision.” Besides that, they’ll be bringing pita, pickles and seasoned olives to the event: “food that brings people together, to interact over – it’s beautiful to have the chance to come together at events like this connecting the dots between food and wine.”

The event is powered by SPEEDPOS, who provide restaurants, theme parks, hotels, and canteens with products to improve their workflow management, forever on the hunt to find and implement the latest technology. And the terrace cookout is powered by Ly Gia Vien, the proudly female-led company that distribute high-end kitchen equipment and more recently household products.

Kim from Ly Gia Vien with a bottle of their Lyre’s.

They’re already celebrating ten years in the industry. “We recognize that food is much more than sustenance. It’s a way to enrich our lives…” the Ly Gia Vien team explain. “Right now, we’re obsessed with our non-alcoholic beverage range called Lyre’s. Mindful consumption is growing, and people are turning towards sophisticated alternatives to alcoholic drinks,” they explain. They’ll be serving some at Poppin’ Corks. “We’ve all been disconnected for so long, this is the perfect chance to try something different, meet new people, drink something unique and have an amazing time.”

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