Pair wine with zi char

Co-founder of 75cl Cedric Mui wants to make wine drinking accessible.
Co-founder of 75cl Cedric Mui wants to make wine drinking accessible. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Have you always wanted to pair your favourite hawker and zi char dishes such as chilli crab, roast duck and oyster omelette with wine, but have no idea what goes with what?

Online wine retailer 75cl can help you out with its monthly dining sessions, 75cl Go Local. The company will set the venue, choose the dishes and curate the wines and types of wine glasses that should be used.

The sessions, which started last month, are held in zi char restaurants, hawker centres and casual restaurants and priced at $40 to $60 a person. Besides savouring local dishes while sipping on wine, diners will also get a run-through of the wines, from the tasting notes to the terroir of vineyards from 75cl's team of wine professionals.

The brainchild behind these sessions is Mr Cedric Mui,co-founder of 75cl. The 30-year-old wants to make wine drinking accessible.

He says: "Drinking wines can be embedded into Singaporeans' lives by having them with everyday dishes. When paired with good local food, the wine tastes twice its price and can elevate the flavours of the hawker food."

For example, his favourite local food-and-wine pairing is chilli crab with German Riesling - the chilled and sweet wine tones down the spiciness of the crab and the buttery nature of the wine matches the tangy sauce and oily fried mantou.

Another pairing is oyster omelette with Sauvignon Blanc. Mr Mui says: "The acidity from the white wine refreshes the palate and highlights the freshness of the oyster."

The next 75cl Go Local session will be held at Keng Eng Kee Seafood Restaurant in Bukit Merah onMarch 30. The five-course meal, which includes dishes such as prawnpaste chicken and coffee-flavoured pork ribs, is priced at $40 a person.

The sessions are kept to a group of about 15 diners.

Having regular tasting sessions with food is a way for 75cl to set itself apart from other wine e-retailers, says Mr Mui. "By tasting wines, customers can do without the hassle of researching about them. And by pairing them with food, they can also build a deeper bond and experience with wines."

The retailer stocks more than 800 labels and 80 per cent of the wines are priced between $40 and $60 a bottle.

Mr Mui says: "Most customers are reluctant to invest at least $80 in a good bottle of wine because they are unable to taste it beforehand and they do not trust the wine label."

He encountered this when he was a marketing manager for seven years at the now-defunct chain The Wine Gallery. It was the retail arm of wine and spirits distributor, Magnum Spirits and Wine, that his father Gavin, 62, started in 1999.

In November last year, the younger Mr Mui started 75cl, which focuses on importing value-formoney wine labels and delivering them within the same day. He cuts down costs by importing the wines directly from the wineries.

His team also looks out for under- the-radar wine labels from newworld countries such as Brazil, Argentina and Chile, which make up one-third of the stockist.

He says: "Customers have to pay a premium for wines that come from more well known regions such as Bordeaux, but I believe that an Argentine Malbec can taste as good as a Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 24, 2016, with the headline Pair wine with zi char. Subscribe