Gastronomy | Italian wine, vinegar producers commend Macau’s mature market

The level of gastronomic sophistication in Macau and Hong Kong is among the highest across Asia, according to several Italian wine and vinegar producers who visited Macau last month to showcase their products.

Hailing from Verona, Modena and Sicily, the premium food and beverage producers brought a slice of Italian fine dining to a wine-pairing event at the Mandarin Oriental Macau, organized by regional distributer Cottage Vineyards.

A consequence of the centuries-old Portuguese community in Macau, the wine market in this special administrative region is dominated by producers from the Atlantic-facing European country. But that is not a hindrance for the Italian producers who, approaching food and beverage operators in Macau only recently, say that they have discovered a mature and curious public.

Sicilian wine producer Loredana Vivera who, after a prior visit to the Macau SAR last year is becoming increasingly familiar with local gastronomy, says that the popularity of her wines is the reason she keeps making the 7,500-kilometer trip from the Vivera Etna Winery in volcanic Catania to the Pearl River Delta.

Meanwhile, compatriot Giovanni Bertani of the Tenuta Santa Maria vineyard in Verona, which can trace its history back almost 500 years, said the local wine consumption market is ripe for more international brands.

“I don’t think the presence of Portuguese wine in Macau is a problem for [Italian] producers as it matures the market,” said Bertani, finding agreement from Vivera. “Where there is wine culture, there is curiosity, and the market demands diversification.”

“Of course, Macau and Hong Kong are probably the most sophisticated markets in the greater China region, and I see a big change from people buying labels – meaning regions – to buying producers and looking for specific styles and philosophies,” he told the Times. “That’s really rewarding for boutique producers like us.”

It is quite the commendation when prestigious Italian wine producers describe Macau’s gastronomy scene as sophisticated. But it is not just Italian wines that are finding their way into Macau gastronomy. Traditional balsamic vinegar producer Acetaia Villa San Donnino, based just outside the historic town of Modena, also sent a representative to last month’s event. Protected by generations of tradition, the producer makes premium vinegar up to a quarter-century old, although a rotational barrel cycle means that a part of their pr oduct is in fact far older.

“We have noticed that people in Macau really appreciate our balsamic vinegar,” said Francesca Ori, a vinegar sommelier from Acetaia Villa San Donnino. “Here in Macau and Hong Kong, there are very good customers who are able to appreciate our products. That’s why we want to promote out product in places like this and we feel proud when we see them [in restaurants].”

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