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How TOASST is Elevating Wine in Hong Kong

We interview the women behind wine concierge and subscription service TOASST.

By Gayatri Bhaumik
November 23, 2021

Communications specialists by day and wine lovers by night, Amy Powell and Christina Lau Tam launched wine concierge and subscription service TOASST after a chance meeting. At a wine-tasting at Michelin-starred Caprice, they discovered a shared knowledge and experience of wines that held promise for a new venture.

The concept for TOASST emerged as the pair realised there had to be a way to help people who were short on time drink better wine and decided to start a curated wine service. Through TOASST, they offer easy access to exclusive wines that are usually only available in restaurants, as well as a host of other interactive wine experiences.

Photo: TOASST

What’s the driving force behind TOASST?

We're on a mission to help busy consumers get more value out of the wines they buy. By understanding your preferences, we remove the guesswork so that you can focus on discovering and tasting beautiful wines from high-quality producers without paying a fortune.

Our wine club and concierge service gives you access to professional expertise, like a personal sommelier. Members can experience wines from new and noteworthy winemakers and historic estates from around the world, and enjoy intimate winemaker events, concierge services, and exclusive benefits with our lifestyle partners.

A recent example is our collaboration with Michelin-starred Aaharn. We worked with the restaurant’s manager, Kiki Sontiyart, to create an exclusive “Somm Box” with wines designed to pair with the bold flavours of Southeast Asian cuisine. We also host intimate virtual events—our next ones will head to the organic Carrick Winery in Bannockburn, New Zealand, to chat with star winemaker Rosie Menzies, then over to Spain with the founder of MATSU, an exciting up-and-coming winery in the Toro region.

We also understand that wine is about more than what’s in the glass, so we partner with retailers like Bydeau and BOMSHBEE to create unique seasonal gifts that pair wine with everything from floral arrangements to glassware.

Photo: TOASST

Why focus on lesser-known regions?

Hong Kong has a thriving fine wine market that focuses on Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Barolo. We wanted to elevate the experience for enthusiasts who want to try wines from all over the world. Plus, it’s fun to discover wines from emerging regions and winemakers that you wouldn’t normally try!

Which regions are you excited about right now?

We’re loving the experiments with lesser-known varietals in Australia, such as those we see at Ministry of Clouds, the Burgundy-style terroir in the Yarra Valley with Mac Forbes, and the industry-leading examples of sustainable and fair-trade winemaking with Carrick in New Zealand and Stellenrust in South Africa.

That said, there’s a new generation of winemakers who we characterise as hidden gems for the way they’re modernising winemaking with organic, sustainable practices in traditional regions across Italy, France, and Spain, like Laurence et Remi Dufaitre in Beaujolais, the Ferrari family in Trento, and emerging wine regions like Patagonia’s Otronia.

Photo: TOASST

Which wines are you loving at the moment? 

Recently, we’ve enjoyed organic wines from small-batch producers in the South of France, Switzerland, and Patagonia. Organic wines have come a long way and we’re as excited by the quality of these wines as we’re impressed by their sustainable practices.

Talk to us about your interactive wine experiences.

We want to build a community through events, bringing together like-minded wine lovers to learn and taste together. With Covid, we pivoted to virtual tastings and were thrilled to offer a space to share a passion for wine, even when it couldn’t be in person. Today, we’re glad to see a return to in-person tastings in Hong Kong, but we continue our virtual events to connect with winemakers around the world and allow our members to travel virtually.

Photo: TOASST

Christmas is around the corner. What wines would you recommend for those that are hosting or gifting this year? 

For cocktail parties, we’d go with crowd-pleasers that are best-in-class for what they represent. For instance, Sancerre is a crisp, classic white that pairs with a variety of appetisers but is easy to quaff on its own. Our Domaine Vacheron Sancerre is an excellent example. If you’re into organic wines, we recommend the Jean-Rene Germanier Petite Arvine Valais AOC 2019 which has good minerality, lovely tropical notes, and body to complement everything from fondue to spicy Asian cuisine.

A traditional sit-down holiday feast can prove challenging for food pairings. A high acid, low tannin red wine can do the job well for a turkey dinner. Look for a Cru Beaujolais like our Chateau Pierreux. For a bolder red, go Italian with the expertly made Gabbiano Chianti or try a New World take on the Italian Nebbiolo varietal like Hairy Arm from Heathcote, Australia.

For gifting, a statement red or a good bottle of fizz is the way to go. Look beyond the big names and go for sparkling wines made in the Champagne style from places like Argentina and Tasmania. Or, pair two lovely wine glasses with a tried-and-true Burgundy or New World Pinot Noir.

 

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