Wine & Spirits

It all starts with grapes, grains and willingness to produce a refined indulgence.

#1 Asian Cuisine Wine Book favourite

With four Masters of Wine now living and residing in Asia, the first person to receive Master of Wine title was Jeannie Cho Lee MW. She is an award-winning author, television host, editor, wine critic, judge and educator based in Hong Kong.

Her pioneering #1 Asian Cuisine Wine book Asian Palate book 2009, explores wine and Asian food pairings. It has won many awards, including the Gourmand Award for Best Food and Wine Pairing Book in the World in 2010.

Her second book, Mastering Wine for the Asian Palate (2011), introduces a new set of Asian wine descriptors for major grape varieties and wine styles.


Visit her website Jeannie Cho Lee where authentic Asian Cuisines and wines are celebrated together; mastering wine, food trends, pairing guide and taste notes database are just a few highlights.

 "Savouring Asian Cuisine & Wine" by Jeannie Cho Lee MW

Asian Cuisine and Wine book favourite; Asian Palate by Jeannie Cho Lee MW

Jeannie has developed an Asian-oriented Food and Wine Wheel with wine recommendations for various southeast-Asian cuisines, which I ordered online directly through Jeannie Cho Lee website.

I genuinely can recommend her first book based on 5 valuable reasons. The content is exceptionally informative about the pairing of Asian cuisines with old and new world wines.

Reason #1 Asian Cuisine Wine Book

Why? It definitely is a first book, where Asian ingredients and terms are truly introduced to the language of wine.

The popularity of Asian cuisines rising up all over the world from fine dining to trending street food restaurant and food truck outlets. The use of typical sub-tropical ingredients showcasing native dishes.

A lot has been written and said about wine pairings with Asian cuisines, but never from an Asian point of view.

Reason #2 Focus on Asia

The Asian perspective, this book brings a wide-angled view focusing on Asian cuisines mentioning specifically ingredients in dishes and cooking styles.

Typical native ingredients tied to Asia which you will not come across Europe or other Western parts of the world.

Reason #3 Demonstrate dishes and considerations

Illustrating regional cuisines with wine consideration, recommendations and what to avoid. This by itself is significantly refreshing, instead of the boring and copied standard advice to choose for the outdated choice of sweet wines.

Reason #4 Eye seduction

Important to realise, as the wine is approached by appearance, nose and taste, the visual value is made by alluring food photography.  In effect seducing the eye and wetting the palate.

Appetising food photography of wine and Asian cuisine, along with snapshots of the location and introduction of the regional or national cuisine.

Reason #5 Asian Cuisine Wine book

Not the last or least reason, the value, this should have been on top but then it wouldn’t make any sense without the introduction. The western approach is often to match one wine with one dish, this is difficult in reality with food served on the Asian table.

A simple bowl of rice is often accompanied with at least 10 different dishes in Korea. A humble Chinese meal at least with 2 dishes and a soup not counting the small sides or a festive banquet dinner of many courses.

While a perfect pairing between an Asian meal and wine is often possible, Jeannie has identified among Asian wine and food lovers four key consideration: –versatility, umami character, intensity and quality – when matching Asian cuisines and wine. Jeannie Cho Lee MW.

Singapore is highlighted featuring the national poultry classic dish, here’s my Hainan Chicken post with the recipe. Or click for Thai famous beef salad Yum Nuea instead.


food and wine wheel - Asian Palate

Food & Wine wheel

She also collaborated with the German Wine Institute, launching the 52-page book in November 2011, for a full read here’s the article link: “Perfect Pairings: German Wines and Asian Flavours“.

The German Wine Institute Dutch brand office hosted a book launch event held in Amsterdam where Jeannie presented the book during luncheon with Dutch-Asian Chefs and Restaurateurs. I stumbled upon this online Dutch review article  Smaak van Wijn (Dutch readers only, no translated transcript).

For more information on how to obtain a book copy, visit the German Wines website. The site also offers an online shop with interactive web-based food and wine pairing tool with other helpful accessories.

Most importantly it has tonnes of information how to discover, experience and enjoy German Wines with wine travel tours and tips.

A video impression, watch The Deutsches Weininstitut (DWI), German Wine Institute


7 Wine journaling apps & more

For the love of Wine, how to keep track of all the fine bottles, grapes, tasting notes, lest alone the places we have visited over the years. Smartphone users who have been searching for Android mobile wine apps, wine searches, food & wine pairing. On a regular base I’ll browse for new versions, check and use apps, recently I found some new ones and revisited former app. The apps are downloaded on my Samsung Note 3 device. Here’s an overview of wine journaling apps & more. Note: The wine apps use different scoring systems, most commonly given out of 100, 20, 10 or 5 points.

7 Wine journaling apps & more

1. Vivino wine scanner         Android frad;ee or paid version €3.99

Vivino Wine Scanner Android apps op Google Play


I had used Vivino a few years back and at the time one of the major issues was that the camera had focus problems, rendering the search function in operable. However after hearing and reading positive reviews I have re-installed the app. True enough the image-recognition is working perfectly, with the feedback from users they have made improvements to the app. A new feature I like is the recommendation of ‘Best wines under €15 right now’ as rated by Vivino users in The Netherlands (location based) over the past month. For e.g. it recommends a Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore 2012 Casa Nostra, €12 ranked #10, based on 86 user ratings with a 4.6 score. For wines it uses a 5-point scale for scores, the above mentioned  wine is rated 3 stars. The paid Pro version promises wine cellar management with My Cellar for wine collectors, haven’t heard or read specifically feedback on this function yet.

2. Wine Notes                         Android free or paid version €0.74

Wine Notes Android apps op Google Play

Wine Notes

This app really feels like a wine journaling app, Wine Notes has a clean UI, the background is very dark which might lead to viewing problems if used in darkened surrounding or with mood-lightning settings. The wine journal is more comprehensive and allows you to catalog your personal impression on your favorite wines. I have only started using Wine Notes recently and the camera works but lacks a bar-code scanner. It features a dictionary with 100 key terms and uses the 100-scale system, which is based on the American high-school marking system, so the scale starts at 50 (rather than 0) and popularized by the Wine Spectator magazine. Which means that the same Valpolicella wine used as example above has a 83/100 rating using the 100 score scale.

3. WS Wine Secretary          Android free      

WS Wijn en wijnkelder Android apps op Google Play

WS Wine Secretary

The Wine Secretary is an impressive wine journaling and wine search app; with an enormous wine database, wine details, local database of 1000+ wine regions and 70+ varietals, on- and off-line use. On top of all that, adding your own wine notes based on wine style. Like Vivino and Wine fog app following next, the Wine Secretary uses the same 5-point scale for wine scores too. For Dutch readers click for review: Wijn en wijnkelder app Nederlandse beschrijving.

4. Wine fog                                 Android free

Wine Fog Android apps op Google Play


The Wine fog app is a new discovery and the first impression just on looks is that it lies in between Vivino and Wine Notes and has the 5-point scale for wine scores as well. Different from the other apps, Wine fog backs up all of your data into the cloud in case you switch phones or use multiple devices and is suitable for tablets.

5. Winesearcher                        Android free

Wine Searcher Android apps op Google Play


Another impressive app built around Winesearcher price comparison engine, listing almost 7 million bottles from 50,000 merchants around the world. Assisting millions of people locate, price-compare and purchase quality wines, beers and spirits. If you want to find the best vintage or a wine shop nearby, just type in a name or take a snapshot and their label recognition scanner will quickly present you with ‘location based’ recommendations with the best value bottles and answers. They have added a a camera for snapshots still in beta mode, in the settings you can modify your preferences. Next to the where to buy information, is an overview of wine details, wine producer information with even a price history and search rank based on Wine-Searcher popularity of last year. Under the vintages you will find the year with and a 100 score scale rating and if available an average price.

Food and Wine pairing apps

 6. Simply Wine and food      Android free

Simply Wine and Food Android apps op Google Play

Simply Wine and Food

For newbies to Wine and Food pairings with a new feature, adding desserts pairing and wine of the day advice.

7. Wine find                                  Buy €1.76

Wine Find Android apps op Google Play


The beauty of this app it fills in the  gap of wine and food pairing with feathered and furred game dishes, it has a comprehensive section with recommendations. “The app, developed in partnership with Halesown-based Smartphone Media, works as both a training tool for hospitality students, a point of reference for industry professionals and a bank of knowledge for anyone who loves food and wine but isn’t sure how to get the best out of both”. Excerpt Wine matching app Wine find taken from the Daily Mail’s interview with the app creator Amy Hollier, click on the highlighted link for full article.

& More

Just Wine

Just Wine Android apps op Google Play

Just Wine

This is a new app which I had downloaded a few months earlier, at first glance you’ll notice immediately the use of rich feature images very appealing visuals. However I was very disappointed with the QR scanner not working and not able to add wine notes, I decided to remove the app for now. Left a review comment on which I received promptly a reply from the developers.

Mobility Quotient 3 december 2014

Thanks for the feedback. The QR scanner works with url supported codes, unfortunately not every wine producer uses these. You can add your own wine notes from the main menu. Please check back soon, we’re adding tens of thousands of new wine records to search!

It is a promising app worth to mention and hopefully the feedback will speed up the next version with improvements.

Which of the above wine apps are you using already, share your findings and experience or your favorite by sending a comment on this post.

WSET wine course in Leiden

After years of enjoying many and more glasses of wines and spirits I decided to sign up for the International Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), qualification Level 2 and 3. The WSET wine course is the largest wine educator in the world with 56,000 students per year in 62 countries. The institution has become the international standard for sommeliers, importers, retailers and hospitality. This action does not come as a surprise for my inner circle, who are familiar with my entrepreneurial history in the restaurant business. The enrollment was just a delay due to travel and living abroad. What’s not to like in another discovery trail and acquiring a certificate for wine appreciation it is hitting two birds with one stone.

WSET wine course in Leiden

The above mentioned WSET wine course has approved program providers in The Netherlands ensuring the high standards of teaching. From the listed companies on the WSET wine course page in Dutch I have chosen the Dutch educational company “Wijnstudio”. The Wine Studio claims since 2005 the highest exam results for the International Wine Certificate with 99 graduates in one take and 71 graduates  for Wine Professional (Source:

The Winestudio is an independent company, who does not sell wines nor being tied to an importer. The company also focuses in addition to the educational courses on gastronomy, the pairing of wine and food taste in flavor and aroma. For those who aspire a professional career and wonder what the education differences entails here are two summarized articles to consider on wine courses; comparison of wine certificationsGuide to Wine education courses. More information in the Wine education widget as listed on our Asianfoodtrail ZEEF page.

Having viewed Dutch wine educational websites information and comparing course fees, it was enlightening to notice their graduates success rate. While this is encouraging information, the decision maker however was distance for preferred location. The WSET wine course program is being held in my present hometown Leiden at a new course location this year. Instead of a bored meeting room it is being hosted now at the wine shop La Bordelaise which lies conveniently in the heart of the city.

Last night entering the class room, all students received the course material and the box with tasting glasses. The Level 2 Award course began with our teacher opening the first bottle of the evening, a Royer Brut Champagne, France. Although we received a wine tasting list overview, I wished I had remembered to take a snapshot of the wine labels. Besides illustration purpose I wanted to test a new mobile wine app, coming up in a next post.

WSET Level 2 award

Unboxing of WSET level 2 award