St Regis Hotel Bangkok Revives the Art of Champagne Sabring

As part of its opening celebrations, St Regis Bangkok is reviving the traditional art of sabring champagne. Showcasing the age-old ritual will be the hotel’s head butler, who will sabre several bottles of champagne at the hotel’s bar each night at 6:30pm. Guests can experience the thrill of the skill and then partake in the overflow of bubbly champagne.

Popularised during the Napoleonic era, champagne sabring is the art of separating the collar from the neck of a champagne bottle with a sabre. The sabre is slid along the body of the bottle towards the neck; the force of the blade hitting the lip breaks the glass, while the cork and collar remain together after separating from the neck. Whilst enjoying champagne celebrations after Napoleon’s spectacular victories, the difficulty of removing the cork from the bottle on horseback proved to be quite a challenge. As sabres were the army’s weapon of choice during that era, the problem was quickly remedied with a flick of the wrist. It was through this technique that the art of champagne sabring was born.


The price of bottles of first-growth Château Lafite Rothschild Bordeaux has been rising as the economy and consumer confidence begins to recover.

Rachael Lowe, beverage director of the Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago, says people seem pretty comfortable spending again.

Some people use the U.S. gross domestic product to gauge the health of the economy. But wine consumption trends may be a more appropriate indicator of people’s spending habits.

The good news–people are spending more money on wine.

The bad news–that trend is being hindered by rising energy prices.

“I feel like bottles and higher-end wines are coming back,” said Chris Pawlisz, general manager at Table Fifty-Two restaurant in Chicago’s Gold Coast. “I’m seeing less and less flinching when suggesting a $200 bottle of Champagne to start their meal.”

Of course, that’s the high-end. Most wines ordered by customers range between $85 and $125 a bottle, Pawlisz says.

Rachael Lowe, beverage director of the Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago agreed: “People seem pretty comfortable spending again.”

Andres Munoz, restaurant manager of NoMI Restaurant at the Park Hyatt Chicago said he felt the recovery was especially evident in the second half of 2010.

“People were spending more and feeling more comfortable letting loose,” said Munoz. “However, it is not a full swing economy yet. This year will surely be better than 2010. However, the speed of the economy still has plenty to recover from.”

Although improved wine sales are one sign of better times, industry players say the economy is still mending slowly.

“We are not back to pre-recession levels by a long shot,” said David Henkes, vice president of Technomic Inc., a Chicago-based restaurant-consulting firm.

According to Technomic surveys, the current average price “as perceived by the consumer” for a bottle of wine in the fourth quarter of 2010 was about $30.55. This is down from a high in the fourth quarter of 2008 of $35. Conversely, the consumer’s willingness to pay more for a glass of wine increased during the same period from $6.93 to $7.49.

With that willingness, consumers also have become more aware of what they are drinking and expect more bang for their buck after the recession, according to industry professionals.

“Although consumption decreased, awareness has gone up,” said NoMI’s Munoz. “Sommeliers have to work harder to find value added in presentation and quality without sacrificing mark-ups too much.”

Ryan Stetins, a sommelier at a high-end Chicago restaurant, agrees the recession has created a more educated buyer. Customers tend to have more thought-out purchases, whether they have consulted an online bottle value system or pre-ordered bottles to be decanted before dinner, he said.

Wine lover Aristotle Duran says after being laid off he began buying wine at the grocery store and staying in to cook to save money. He typically spends between $20 and $30 on a bottle of wine, or $8 for a glass when dining out.

“I have never been one to buy expensive wine because I believe you can find a decent bottle for a fair price wherever you go,” said Duran.

During the recession, higher-end restaurants were hit the hardest. For example, at Morton’s Restaurant Group Inc. revenues decreased 14.7 percent in 2009 from $354.5 million to $281.1 million. Revenue rebounded 5 percent in 2010 to $296.1 million, another sign of measured recovery.

“People were not going out during the recession,” said Henkes. “When they did go out, they would order one glass instead of two, or order a glass of wine instead of a bottle.”

According to Henkes, when consumers cut back their spending habits, they tend to forgo wine, dessert and appetizers before ditching eating out altogether. And although many continued to drink wine, they traded down for less expensive selections.

“Wine sales seemed to carry through, but there were certainly fewer purchases of expensive old Burgundy and Bordeaux,” according to Trump’s Lowe.

As the market has started to come back, people are turning to wine as an investment, not just a luxury.

Chicago-based wine auction house Hart Davis Hart Wine Co. uses the HDH Auction Index to gauge revenue. The index tracks the performance of 15 key wines at its auctions such as first-growth Château Lafite Rothschild. According to the HDH Auction Index, HDH wine sales dropped in September of 2008 and did not fully recover until January 201,. They have now come back stronger than ever.

“The economy has had a direct effect on prices over the last 10 years,” said Marc Smoler, marketing manager at Hart Davis Hart. “Prices went down significantly during the recession, but as the economy has improved, they have bounced back very quickly and even surpassed previous highs.”

A similar trend can be seen in the global secondary market for wine.

Liv-Ex Fine Wine 100 Index is an industry benchmark that tracks the price of the 100 most sought-after fine wines that trade frequently in a secondary market. According to the index, fine wine prices dropped 19 percent from August 2008 to August 2009. However, they increased 33 percent from August 2009 to August 2010, surpassing their previous pre-recession prices.

Technomic’s Henkes remains cautiously optimistic about the further recovery of wine consumption and restaurant sales. Still, there are plenty of obstacles to overcome before full recovery is reached, including rising energy and commodity prices.

“For every sign you see of things getting better, you see two more signs of things getting worse,” said Henkes.

With gasoline reaching its highest price in three years, nearing $5 a gallon, people have less disposable income to splurge on wine. Rising commodity prices already are causing some restaurants to increase menu prices, which will increase total dining tabs.

Bridget Kearney, a Chicago self-proclaimed restaurant lover, holds similarly skeptical views on the economy.

“I think it has improved but is nowhere near what it was during the bubble,” said Kearney. “I think there is a bit more to get to pre-bubble levels.”

Despite the promising signs, many wine consumers, including Duran, remain cautious in their spending habits.

Jf Hillebrand Brings Old And New To 2011 London Wine Fair

Renowned wines and spirits logistics expert JF Hillebrand, which has been entrusted with shipping the world’s oldest bottle of Champagne to the London International Wine Fair, is also using the event to showcase its supply chain management services for wines of more recent origin.

The bottle of 18th Century Champagne, believed to be from the house of Veuve Clicquot, was recovered last summer from a shipwrecked schooner that had lain 55 metres below the Baltic Sea off Åland – an autonomous region of Finland – for some 230 years.

Still highly drinkable, this find, which predates the previous oldest Champagne in the world by at least 25 years, has generated tremendous interest in the world of wines and Grayling (the world’s second largest independent Public Relations, Public Affairs, Investor Relations and Events consultancy) has been authorised to host a bottle at this year’s event, at which JF Hillebrand is also exhibiting for the 12th year.

Understandably, given the high value of the shipwrecked champagne, Grayling sought the help of experts for the intricate shipment from Åland, which required meticulous packing, protection and temperature-control combined with expedited service to ensure that it arrived at London’s ExCeL in good time for the exhibition opening on May 17.

As the world’s leading specialist logistics provider to the wines and sprits trade, JF Hillebrand is used to serving the needs of clients with a much younger product than the shipwrecked Champagne, but who still require a exceptional level of transportation and inventory control.

At this year‘s London International Wine Fair, JF Hillebrand will showcase its powerful custom-developed Axis logistics management software, which delivers new levels of inventory control with cost and time savings to market, while providing full visibility of the supply chain from vineyard to destination.

“This is a prime opportunity for clients and potential customers to meet JF Hillebrand staff from around the globe and tap into their wealth of local expertise to identify potential efficiencies in the supply chain,” said JF Hillebrand UK Managing Director David Mawer. “Their knowledge is built on many years’ experience in handling wines with varying characteristics, but all with the common requirement for innovation, skill, control and value in delivery to client.”

Visitors to the event are cordially invited to contact JF Hillebrand to arrange a meeting by e-mailing Alternatively, just turn up at stand L22.

About JF Hillebrand: With a global network headquartered in Mainz, Germany, JF Hillebrand employs 1800 people in 46 offices around the world.

Since 1844, it has dedicated itself to the efficient and cost-effective logistics of wines, spirits and beers. As well as offering first class logistics services, it also leads the way in the development of innovative products, services and IT tools to the global beverage industry.

Moet Chinese Wine Deal Will ‘Educate’ Public

Moet Hennessy has signed a joint venture deal with a Chinese company to make high-end sparkling wine on the Chinese mainland.

The deal will expand the country’s wine market by educating the public and wine producers in sparkling wine, observers said.

Moet signed the deal earlier this month with state-owned agricultural company Ningxia Nongken to produce wine from a 67ha site in the northern region of Ningxia Hui.

‘This will be the first sparkling wine in China made according to traditional methods,’ a Moet spokesman said, adding that the first wines would be ready in three years.

The venture would ‘enhance the winemaking skill level in China. There will be more companies to educate the public…and develop the sparkling wine market in China,’ Rex Yeung of Hong Kong-based mainland producer Dynasty Wines told the South China Morning Post.

LVMH, Moet’s holding company, already has a healthy market for Cognac and Champagne on the Chinese mainland: it is the company’s biggest market for Cognac and the Champagne market is growing every year.

The two companies expect the joint venture to attract many more companies to China. Nongken already has 670ha planted, which it aims to expand to over 2,000ha.

The Chinese mainland’s thirst for wine continues to expand. According to the latest figures from According to the latest figures from International Wine and Spirit Research (IWSR), commissioned by Vinexpo, consumption of wine by China and Hong Kong increased by over 100% between 2005 and 2009, from 46.9m to 95.9m cases.

Vinexpo predicts that this figure will increase a further 20% by 2014, to 126.4m cases.

In terms of domestic production of wine, China is set to increase by 77% over the next four years, from an average 72m cases to 128m cases.

In terms of domestic production of wine, China is set to increase by 77% over the next four years, from an average 72m cases to 128m cases.

In 2009, mainland wine producers accounted for 83% of the country’s wine consumption.

China and Hong Kong together make up the world’s largest volume importer of Bordeaux wines.


Henry Tuke Launches The World’s Most Expensive Champagne Sabre

For all champagne lovers Henry Tuke has just launched the world’s most expensive Champagne sabre which is an exquisite piece launched in the gardens of Champagne house Canard-Duchêne in Ludes, France.

During the launch, Tom Tuke-Hastings, founder of the brand, sabred 35 bottles of Canard-Duchêne Champagne in one minute which broke the previous world record of 27 bottles.

One of its kind, the saber is hand-forged in England in stainless Damascus steel with solid sterling silver fittings and a shagreen grip. Made from exclusive ancient oak, the base is a part of original Roman docks of 70 AD. Available at selected outlets, the sterling silver sabre is priced at £27,000.