Wine pro’s bar lifted



Queenstown wine consultant and educator Candice Chow’s received a prestigious learning opportunity.

Each year, The Family of Twelve — comprising 12 top-flight New Zealand wineries — chooses 12 wine professionals to undergo a wine tutorial in which they taste Family-winery wines and compare them with fine international wines.

Of those chosen this year, there are only three NZers, from Queenstown, Wellington and Auckland — the others hail from Sydney, Melbourne, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Because of Covid, the original plan for a two-day workshop has been replaced by virtual one-day blind-tasting workshops in several venues.

Chow’s workshop is in Auckland on November 24.

Participants are tutored by Family winemakers led by Blair Walter from Bannockburn’s Felton Road — The Family’s only Central Otago member.

Chow’s been a wine professional for about 20 years, originally in top restaurants in her native Hong Kong.

Over the past decade in Queenstown, she’s been a wine sommelier for upmarket establishments like Eichardt’s Private Hotel, The Rees Hotel and celebrity chef Josh Emett’s Rata, and was also group beverage manager for his restaurant chain.

Since mid-last year she’s run a consultancy, Candice Wine Chat.

She’s also sole reviewer for the website, Raymond Chan Wine Reviews, and runs a non-profit local sommeliers club.

Chow didn’t know about the The Family’s wine tutorial when it started two years ago, then unsuccessfully applied last year.

She says the application process, where you have to sell yourself, is massive.

‘‘It’s almost like applying for a job.’’

The Family’s marketing manager, Kate Pritchard, says Chow impressed ‘‘not only with her knowledge of and passion for NZ wine, but her enthusiasm in sharing her knowledge and commitment to her own career development’’.

To be a good wine pro, Chow says ‘‘you just have to keep learning — it doesn’t really stop’’.

So what makes a good wine?

‘‘A good wine has to have a really good intensity, flavour, balance and a long finish, and then you see the concentration in the grapes.’’