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Media Release

Entries Open for the 2017 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition

Gin, “celebration” dishes, bartenders, 4 Asian Masters of Wine & Vietnam in focus for 2017

17 May, 2017 (Hong Kong): The 2017 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition (HKIWSC) is now open for entries, marking its 9th year as Asia’s foremost international wine competition, designed specifically for the Asian market. 2017 sees the introduction of “celebration” dishes, a focus on gin and a nod to Vietnamese culture, plus the inclusion of some of the region’s leading bartenders and a total of four Masters of Wine from Asia on the judging panel as key features of the new competition year.

Founded by the London-based IWSC, Master of Wine Debra Meiburg (Founding Director of Meiburg Wine Media), and Simon Tam (Vice President of Wine – Asia, Christies) this distinctively Asian international wine competition was designed by Asian market experts and the long-established IWSC to recognise quality international wines and spirits especially for the Asian market.

Always a key feature of the competition, the VIP International Judges have also been announced, with multi-award winning South African winemaker, Johann Fourie, Head Winemaker, Benguela Cove Wine Estate and Mannings Heath Golf & Wine Estate taking up the VIP International Wine Judge position, and Desmond Payne, Master Distiller, Beefeater Gin, Chivas Brothers Ltd appointed VIP International Judge of Spirits.

Debra Meiburg MW, Founding Director of the HKIWSC said “Desmond Payne is the perfect choice for VIP International Spirits Judge this year, with the gin craze really gripping Hong Kong and further afield in Asia. Desmond has been involved in the wine and spirit industry since 1965, and has a wealth of knowledge and intel across the board, along with his gin expertise. We look forward to his acumen and insights during the action-packed judging week!”

Desmond Payne, Master Distiller, Beefeater Gin, Chivas Brothers Ltd says, “I hope to bring an international perspective to the judging panel, as I travel across many countries. Asia is a hugely important region for international wines and spirits.  The issuing of HKIWSC awards recognises the importance of quality and prestige in these markets. Personally, I am especially interested to see how Asian spirits are developing and how they show local characteristics.”

To ensure the tastes of everyday wine and spirits lovers are reflected in the results, the competition has invited a contingent of award-winning bartenders to join the spirits judging panel this year. Plus, four Masters of Wine from Asia will be part of the judging panel – Sonal Holland MW from India, Ying Hsieh Tan MW from Singapore, Kenichi Ohashi MW from Japan, as well as Debra Meiburg MW from Hong Kong, who is floating panel chair.

In a nod to Vietnam – which won its very first HKIWSC medal last year – the very first Vietnamese dish has been added to the Asian food and wine pairing awards categories. Plus, a Vietnamese judge – Alex Thinh – has joined the judging panel for the first time. Also a new to the judging panel is Indonesia – represented by Agung Prabowo. 

Asian food and wine pairing is a hot topic internationally, and every year the competition selects new dishes to explore pairings for, with the theme for 2017 being “Celebration Dishes”. Dishes like Lo-Hei Yu Sheng (raw fish salad) from Singapore/Malaysia; Prawn Vindaloo from India; Japanese Sea-Salt Grilled Red Snapper from Japan; and Cua Lot Cuon (soft shell crab rice rolls) – a debut dish from Vietnam – are just a few of the exciting dishes on the roster in 2017.

Debra Meiburg MW said, “Traditional celebrations in Asia are centred around food, yet with the growing interest in wine, many find themselves confused on what to choose, especially given Asia’s banquet-style dining. Wine can really enhance the dining experience – particularly in a celebration setting – which makes this year’s theme even more pertinent.”

Allen Gibbons, CEO of IWSC Group, “We can’t wait to taste the flood of entries – past and new – in the 2017 competition. The tastes and consumption patterns of Asian consumers have significantly evolved over the past two to three years, let alone the nine years of the competition. There is a growing thirst for premium, mid-market wines from around the world, along with everyday drinking wines, and top-of-the-market drops.”

Debra Meiburg MW said “Recently in Asia we’ve seen a spate of interest in diverse countries and regions – like Spain, California, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Georgia and much more, along with traditional favourites France and Italy. I encourage producers from far and wide to enter or re-enter the competition and take full advantage of the robust support program offered to winners. We have a dynamic cache of marketing collaterals, showcase events, PR and trade tasting opportunities to put as many winning wines as possible in front different market segments. It really does offer the best opportunity for turnkey access to the booming Asian wine and spirits market for international beverage producers.”  

Results serve as a guideline to the best quality international wines and spirits for both the trade and consumers in the region. Results are fully focused on Asia, with unique features including Asian judging panels, the hotly contested Asian food and wine pairing award categories and an “Asia’s Best” series of awards.

Asia’s top beverage professionals eagerly anticipate the annual results, which are frequently used as a guide to select the best wines and spirits for their customers.

Ian Dai, Wine and Spirit Buyer, Amazon China, said “The HKIWSC helps to find the most suitable wines for Asian consumers and helps wineries to navigate the most complicated wine market in the world.”

Agung Prabowo, Beverage Manager, Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong said, “The HKIWSC serves as a useful guide to spirits lovers in Asia and a medal win can help brands sell their products in Asia.”

Enter online

2017 competition entries close on 21 August for spirit and 28 August for wine entries. Judging week takes place 25-29 September in Hong Kong, with results announced at a gala event at the Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair, on 9 November.

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Media enquires – Hong Kong:   

Alex Webster Aranchikov            


Images can be downloaded here for media use.


About Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Wine & Spirit Competition

Now celebrating its ninth year, HKIWSC remains the original and most well-respected wine and spirit competition in Asia. Founded by the IWSC Group, Debra Meiburg MW and Simon Tam, the competition is regarded as the Asian guide to the world’s finest wine and spirits. With its panel of Asian judges, the HKIWSC ensures that, not only are the best wines selected from all across the globe, but that they are suited to Asian taste preferences too.



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