Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Museu Do Vinho – Macau

One of the more popular destinations for tourists visiting Macau is the Macau Wine Museum. This is of course when they can peel themselves away from the casinos and massage parlors for an hour or two. Located in the city center just around the corner from the local Tourist Office, it is not difficult to find at all. I have been curious to learn more about Chinese wines so I decided to pay them a visit. Plus I have never been to a wine museum before so I was hoping to get totally pissed while sipping samples. The entrance fee was only $2 US which apparently included some tasting.

I was not too impressed upon entering the museum. It was not crowded but there were a few people milling around. There was no one to neither welcome you at the door nor explain where you are. There is only one small sign at the entrance, and no hosts. Patrons are expected to walk around the facility alone and learn about the history of wine in China from numerous write-ups posted along the walls. I was in no mood to read at the time.

There were also many pictures that depicted the history of wine dating back to ancient Mesopotamia. The pictures moved along a time line to present day. There were some people who were very interested in these 2 dimensional presentations; I however was not impressed. I wanted to be tasting wine from the minute I walked through the front doors.

The museum itself is located in what appeared to be the basement level of a commercial building. There were no windows to speak of and the whole presentation was planned along 2 lanes of a very long and slightly wide corridor. The interior design however was very Mediterranean with whitewash walls and terracotta flooring. I found it simple yet elegant.

I enjoyed seeing the traditional equipment and machinery used to make wines but once again there was no one present to explain the functions, and the write-ups were too vast. This I believe is some sort of grape crusher. I was also disappointed to see that all the grapes on display were made of rubber. Although I guess it is a bit unfair to presume they can afford to use real grapes that would have to be changed regularly. But it would have been nice to sample some grapes as well.

In all honesty, I zipped through the whole museum quite quickly until I saw some bottles. There was a whole section behind wrought iron gates that contained a collection of dusty old bottles. This was finally of some interest to me. I would have liked to know what was so special about those wines and how much they cost.

I meandered through passages containing old vases and flasks, traditional uniforms, and farming tools. There was an exceptionally large are dedicated to a display of Portuguese wine, what I believe is called Port. But I learned that not all Portuguese wine is Port, they also make a variety of dry red wines and rose’s.

Close to the exit I finally found a tasting booth. There were about 6 bottles available for tasting, 3 Ports, and 3 wines. There were not too many people around and even those who stopped for a taste would literally have a sip from a glass and move on leaving 2/3 of what was poured behind. Fucking sacrilegious I tell you.

As there was no action I got quite friendly with the guy handling the bar. He was from the Philippines and he told me more about the wines than I learned walking through the whole museum. He even gave me company while I sampled all the bottles he had on display. He actually enjoyed pouring drinks for someone who enjoyed drinking them. The fact that it was still 11am did not detour us.

I found all the wines to be too dry for my taste but I adore the white port. It is fantastic for an after lunch drink. With red port I can not really taste the brandy but in the white port I could feel the combination and it was extremely pleasant. I actually had 2 glasses of that before heading out.

I really wish I remember all the names of the wines I tried. But these three were all really good ports. Some of the wines I tried were the Mura, Portal, and the Douro which was a very modern dry red. It was actually pretty good if you like dry wine. I wanted to buy a bottle but I did could not be bothered lugging it around with me all day.

Right next door to the Wine Museum there is the Formula 1 Museum but I could not be bothered to check it out. To be honest I am sure there are a lot more exciting things to do than check out the Wine Museum in Macau. I was hoping for a lot more. The presentation is very mediocre and unless you already know and care a lot about wines, do not expect to learn much. I was in the area and I did enjoy the tasting. I do not believe anything is useless so this too was an experience. If anything I have learned that I like white port, a lot. My birthday is coming up in April.

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