People in Indonesia prefer wines that give an immediate taste in the mouth. Wines that sommelier Suyanto calls ghost busters.
“Something that’s rich and full-bodied; complex with a strong taste,” he said.
With a relatively young wine-drinking culture, Indonesia’s wine consumers are mostly at the entry level, with consumers preferring sweet wines, Vin+ wine shop marketing manager Yolanda Simorangkir said.
“They like sweet wine, because it’s easier to drink, but after they’ve trained their palate, they will appreciate more and understand more,” she said.
Suyanto said many people came to him saying they knew nothing about wine but were eager to learn. “For a sommelier, this is a challenge,” he said.
Suyanto said he would start by introducing different grape varieties. For red wine, he would start with the Merlot, because it has a rich taste. The next would be the Cabernet Sauvignon that has a fruitier taste, and the complex-tasting Shiraz would follow.
For white wine, Suyanto will start with Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
Wines from the so-called New World countries – Australia, Chile, and Argentina – are popular among Indonesians. “Mostly because they produce wine with a full-flavor character. Something that has an oaky and vanilla taste,” he said.
Yolanda and wine expert from Decanter Wine House Yohan Handoyo said despite Indonesia’s tropical weather, in which white wine served cold would suit better, Indonesians preferred full-bodied red wines.
At Vin+, the ratio between red and white wines purchases is 70-to-30, Yolanda said.
With many wine shops and wine-tasting events in Jakarta, people who have just starting to drink wine have many ways to learn about it.
One can also learn from the award-winning book Rahasia Wine (The Secrets of Wine), written by Yohan. The book was described as “wise, practical and deep in wine culture” when it won the prestigious Gourmand Award for wine education in 2008.
Suyanto said that, classically, a good bottle of wine has a balance between acidity, fruitiness and mineral. “A good wine is when you smell it for the first time, you can smell whether the scent is strawberry or raspberry, or whether it had been in an oak barrel or not,” he said.
Restaurateur Dieter Speers said that one of the reasons why more and more Indonesians are into wine was because: “Once you develop a taste, you won’t be able to stop. It’s just too awesome.”
“Ultimately, one would usually settle with a nice red wine from a classic country like France. Nothing beats wine from the Bordeaux area,” the German national said.