Three Wines Before I switch back to No Wine!

I survived almost 5 months without drinking any wine towards the later half of 2018. I let all good wine selections pass by, and kept to my self-imposed vow not to waver even under duress or serious temptations (which occurred quite often! and will continue to occur!!).

Then as December approached, I decided to temporarily drop my vow, and enjoy some good wines for 3 months before I reimpose the ban. This is due to the fact that it was year-end with all family members congregating in Singapore, and in recognition of another good year. And, of course, welcome 2019 not just in Gregorian Calendar, but also to kick off the Chinese Calendar welcoming the Year of the Pig.

Now, I am reimposing the ban. No more wines. How long? I do not know. It is a serious test of will power (as far as I am concerned, given my longstanding affinity towards good wines, about which I have extensively blogged). It is going to be a big challenge, but then we are all made of tough stuff, right?

In conclusion of this 3-month sojourn with some good wines, I selected three of the most renowned (and somewhat expensive) wines that were offered to me as part of a dinner celebration. I have to point out that none of these wines were chosen by me. So, mention of these wines in this blog post does not mean that I did my research on the selection and then bought these wines for relishing during a quiet evening. Not at all. These were selected by more discerning wine aficionados (who are unable to understand why I would go off wines at all). People who have followed my choice of “value-based wines” would know that I hardly suggest any wine above SGD 50 (which translates to USD 37 or INR 2,600).

So, here comes the list:

  • Chateau Leoville Barton Saint-Julien (Grand Cru Classe) 2010, France of course!
  • Gauchezco Reserva Malbec 2016, Mendoza Argentina
  • Altesino Brunello di Montalcino 2012, Italy

Of course, I had personally tried Chilean and Australian wines during the above period of wine-no-ban, but I am not writing about those wines here.

The first one from France is simply outstanding (to be honest, I am not a fan of French wines, and I might get ambushed and beaten up for stating that here publicly, but that is the honest truth). The Wine Spectator has given a rating of 96/100, the Wine Enthusiast has given 100/100 (!!!), and Vivino has given a 4.6/5.0. This is indeed a great wine (of all times and of all wines), and I would easily rate this as one of the top 5 wines that I have ever drunk. I am not going to describe the wine but this is simply an excellent fruity red wine which you will never regret. However the price might put off any casual wine drinker, so try this when someone is sponsoring a dinner for a celebration (of course, this means that the sponsor knows this wine and feels the occasion demands something of this quality!). I know you are biting your nails to find out what could be the price, but I leave that exercise to you.

The second wine is from the famous Mendoza wine-growing region of Argentina. I have increasingly grown fond of Malbec. I believe it is better than the other reds for its depth of dark fruits on the palate which I relish. Of course, everything boils down to trial and experimentation, so after many Malbecs, my choice for anything from Argentina would be focused on the mountains of Mendoza and Malbec. Also, there is some attraction to the purplish inky-blue colour of the wine! This particular wine is easy to drink, lovely on the nose and fantastic on the palate, so I would strongly recommend this one if you are looking for a Malbec.

The third wine – ah! from the Italian Tuscany region of Brunello – again, I am not a natural chooser of Italian wines (except when I am forced to do so in an Italian restaurant where there is no other choice!). But then, one always learns, right? This is an amazing Brunello wine – full-bodied, rich and complex, and strong fruitiness on the palate. This wine has gotten a rating of 96/100 from Wine Spectator, 94/100 from Wine Enthusiast, and 4.2/5.0 from Vivino which is a crowd-sourced platform. Excellent choice again, and I am not revealing the price again. For you to discover, should you at all be interested!

Well, well………that summarized what I have enjoyed greatly, and it is always a pleasure when a “ban” is lifted and you permit yourself to try wines again – but this field is not like chocolates or sweets, wherein you could feel the adrenalin rush in your head when a similar ban is lifted – you are literally rushing to the fridge. In the case of wine, it is always a measured careful approach. Bad wines could strangle people – yes, believe me, it will be real bad. So, one needs to know his/her wines and then select a specific one which could break the “ban” or the “wine-fasting”, and that will, indeed, be most pleasurable.

However, please do not offer me any wine of any kind, “value-based” or connoisseur-driven expensive ones. I have stopped drinking wines from last week……….let me see how I can persist with this self-imposed ban.

Have a great week ahead, folks.


Vijay Srinivasan

10th February 2019

The Big Decision

I decided to stop drinking alcohol in any form from today.

This is one of the biggest decisions any wine lover can make for sure. And, I am one. I do not enjoy any other alcoholic drink as much as I enjoy a glass of wine from a good winery of a good vintage. Occasionally I do have some single malt whiskey as most others are fond of that kind of drink, or a Corona Beer. But wine has been my drink of choice for a long, long time.

How about giving up wine?

It means a lot to me. I have written about a number of wines in my Blog – you just have to select “Wines” under the Category drop-down menu and you will see many wines that I have enjoyed drinking.

I am sure to get withdrawal symptoms.

I am told most people who have been alcohol lovers (like cigar smokers) would face significant challenges to desist the lure of a good drink. There is of course the challenge of what one would drink after one becomes non-alcoholic. In my case, I am not going to drink any of the sugary soft drinks, so I guess I would have settle for the well-established H2O, or water.

It is going to be challenging, and it is going to be funny to explain why I took such a radical decision. Such a decision is of course not taken or made lightly. It does take serious thought and introspection. It takes guts. It takes a lot of will power.

So, why did I make such a decision? What prompted me? How can I become a total abstainer after such a long time?

Why? Why?

One major reason is healthcare. One has to take care of one’s health. To keep ignoring what your physician says or advises does not become an option after a while. Then there is the spousal persuasion. My wife used to tell me that I spend close to 40% of her grocery bill on wines, and often pointed out that it is disproportionate. I agree (what else can I do).

Is that all? Are these the reasons that drove me to make a decision today? And, why today?

As most of my readers know, I keep reading a lot about whatever comes across my attention span. Of late, I have become interested in healthcare and life sciences, though it is not something natural for me (I am an Electronics and Communication Engineer). I will most surely read anything on medical innovation – new diagnostic tools, techniques, discoveries, et al. There is no shortage of biotech companies which are trying to change the medical world upside down.

While I am trying to adjust my own thoughts around some of these exotic and innovative stuff going on in research labs around the world, I found that I am not personally benefitting from the knowledge. So, I started to explore more on lifestyle and behavioural changes that could impact positively on my own health. Some changes I made to my lifestyle over the past couple of years were walking a minimum of 10,000 footsteps a day (I am averaging 18,000), taking up membership in a gym under the supervision and training of a professional trainer, consuming a variety of plant nuts (I have written about this in one of my earlier posts) and green leafy vegetables, and so on and so forth. Since I was (and still am) fond of wine, I resisted the investigation of the effects alcohol could have on the body.

Recently, I did so while happily drinking wine! I found that alcohol is not really a good thing for one’s liver, and could cause a litany of negative effects on the body and its organs which are far outweighed by the small benefits to the heart by drinking red wine. The medical opinion is divided. I consulted my doctor, and as expected he was not in favour of regular consumption of any type of alcohol. I persisted however, not giving up so fast.

It went on for some time until I saw my own fatty liver on ultrasound sonography test. The effectiveness of the liver functioning is affected when fat builds up in the liver cells due to alcohol drinking. It is not necessary that only alcohol drinking causes fatty liver. In fact, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is quite prevalent.

However, considering a combination of my health parameters and age, I decided it may not be wise to proceed drinking in an uninterrupted fashion as though nothing is going to be impacted; since my wine drinking and wine selection is based on some research which have led to a kind of passion for good wines, I know it is going to be rather difficult. In fact, I am feeling the withdrawal symptoms already, it being a Sunday evening now.

What should I do with the wine bottles that I had so carefully chosen and bought? My wife says just throw them – of course, I cannot in my good conscience do so. I will keep looking at them for a while till I get the courage to pluck one and gift it when visiting another family for dinner. It is going to be hard.

Well, my decision is most certainly a courageous one; it is unfortunately based on indiscriminate knowledge acquisition in the medical field, but fortunately supported by my doctor. My wife firmly and unequivocally supports my conclusions and decision.

Adieu my dear wine(s). Hope you folks (the wines I mean) do well.

I have to be determined, courageous, strong, and rely on my will power. I am sure I can do it.

Cheers, and enjoy the rest of your weekend folks,

Vijay Srinivasan

22nd April 2018




The Dead Arm Shiraz 2014

Excellent wine from d’Arenberg winery, McLaren Vale, South Australia. McLaren Vale has a climate resembling the Mediterranean, suited to growing a wide variety of vines. Shiraz is the best known varietal from McLaren Vale, thought there are other popular ones also cultivated.

When someone gifted me this wine, I was curious to learn about the origin of its name. Who would call a wine as “the dead arm”? Dead Arm is a vine disease caused by a fungus, and the part of the vine which is affected becomes dead wood. However, the other part produces vines of intense complexity, and the “The Dead Arm” Shiraz from d’Arenberg is the product of such vines.

Please read up about this unique wine at “The Dead Arm”.

The website of the vineyard is at The D’Arenberg Winery.

This wine has a deep purplish colour, dominated by dark fruits with strong intensity driving up the flavours. Highly rated by various reputed reviewers, The Dead Arm remains as the flagship Shiraz wine from the d’Arenberg winery which was established in 1912. I enjoyed this wine, very much influenced by its complexity and richness on the palate. The concentrated tannins in this wine provide a spicy and long finish, lingering for quite a while.

I have tried a number of Shiraz wines from Australia – I will not deny the fact that Australian Shiraz is world-class with some unbeatable vineyards. However, after a fairly long time, I am witnessing the resurgence of Shiraz in my household as the preference has always been for Cabernet Sauvignon, or Malbec, or Pinot Noir. This is good news, now I have a chance to explore some Shiraz wines when I go wine-shopping!

If you are looking for a full-bodied, intense, fruity Shiraz, you cannot go wrong with The Dead Arm. It is somewhat expensive and not easily available in Singapore, but can be ordered online in other countries. I would suggest that you bring out this bottle after a few years of cellaring, say after 3 to 5 years, and you will see that you have a winner in your hands to please your guests.

Wine is like golf, it requires a lot of understanding and time investment. There is never an end to the array of good wines from around the world. Of course, most of the time we choose the wine that we are already familiar with – which means that we intimately know the wine that we are predisposed to choose. So, it is necessary to keep the memory strong. I use the Vivino App on my iPhone which keeps track of the wines I have enjoyed in the past. It is almost like my wine database!

It is not true that I drink a glass of wine every day. Of late, I paced it out so that I drink a glass of wine twice every week, which means I look forward to it, and when it happens to be some new wine that I took a chance upon, it becomes even more inviting.

Be a responsible drinker, and do not drive under the influence of alcohol. I leave my car at home in case I am joining a party or get-together. It is much more convenient when you do not have to drive, as then the evening is “open” for some investigation and experimentation!

Today is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and for all Christian friends it is a very important day – have a great Easter Sunday folks.


Vijay Srinivasan

01 April 2018


The most expensive city

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Worldwide Cost of Living Survey 2018, Singapore has been ranked as #1 most expensive city in the world. If New York’s cost of living index is taken as 100, Singapore works out to be 116, topping the list. Paris and Zurich are at 112, and Hong Kong is at 111. Seoul is at 106 and Sydney at 102, amongst Asian cities.

According to the EIU Survey, a bottle of wine (my favourite topic!) costs USD 23.68 on an average in Singapore, while it costs only USD 11.90 in Paris, the second most expensive city in the world. There are many things which are more expensive in Singapore than in other countries, like clothes and cars. Certain things are fine to be more expensive, as land-strapped Singapore needs to control the population of cars and road usage aggressively. Clothes can surely be cheaper – it makes no sense to buy branded clothes in Singapore when the same brand costs less than half in the U.S. for instance. But then not everyone travels, so locals look for heavy discounts and bargains; sometimes the same brand is made available at half the big store prices, via a third party in an industrial estate outlet (akin to the outlet malls in the U.S., but the ones in Singapore are just single makeshift places in a very cheap location and exist only for a couple of weekends). Since Singapore needs to import almost everything, prices tend to be higher, but the extent of price increase in the hands of the consumers is sometimes not acceptable, but we have to carry on with our lives in any case and need to buy at least the essentials.

The tag of the “most expensive city” in the world is unpalatable to most locals, as that designation just tends to increase the costs further. Expats who come to work in Singapore get increasingly higher salaries based on the EIU’s Cost of Living Index for Singapore (it is a popular survey), and that action increases the cost of living further, as the expats are just willing to pay more for everything. This in turn, increases the cost for everyone living in Singapore.

The demand for quality accommodation has pushed up market prices of housing in Singapore over the past year or so. All in all, Singapore is surely an expensive place to live, but is also probably as safe as Tokyo, which is widely regarded as the safest city in all of Asia. Rule of law and enforcement of law dominate the city state, keeping most people honest, whether they are locals or foreigners.

Coming back to the issue of cost of living, I “feel” that Tokyo is much more expensive, especially when I am having lunch or drinking coffee. I get the same feeling in Hong Kong. Clothes seem to be expensive everywhere, except in Vietnam and India. So, the major aspects afflicting Singapore with regard to cost of living pertain to things on which nothing much can be done – personal transportation when it involves owning a car, and accommodation. Wines and cigarettes will continue to be expensive, so the only way is to curb their usage. I believe hawker centre food from ‘A’ category outlets still remain affordable in Singapore – it has gone up over the past decade, but still manageable. A good quality plate of Chicken Rice can be had for around S$ 5.50 and a Bento Box of Teriyaki Chicken can be had for S$ 7.00 in most hawker centres. I am afraid when these prices will double making them unaffordable for most people. Foreigners tend to spend more than S$ 10.00 to 15.00 for daily lunches, but locals are sensitive to the S$ 5.00 mark. I see this everyday. It is sometimes funny to notice that the locals would not mind spending S$ 2.00 or more for a bus ride to their favourite hawker centre, as food plays a central role for them (like it is for most of us). I consider myself as a “local” for all practical purposes, so I tend to adopt similar benchmarks as these help when you are with Singaporeans going for a lunch session.

Cars are expensive, and enough has been written about cars in Singapore, so I am not spending any more time on this topic. I see some people shifting to App-based taxi usage away from their personal cars and other modes of transportation, and this is increasing the traffic density in an already crowded city. However, traffic flows along almost smoothly due to a very effective implementation of traffic rules. These are getting affected a bit by the big number of cycle riders who are using the same road space in a city where the average car speeds are in excess of 60 KMPH. Then there are also these personal mobility devices – like e-scooters, and you have the most infamous bike riders who twist their way between two high-speed car lanes at tremendous speeds, which will not be an acceptable way to drive in most developed countries.

Cost of credit is cheaper in Singapore than in most other developed nations, so that could be a positive. Food, as I stated above, for common daily lunches/dinners are not that expensive, but beer and wine are very expensive. Electronics items are reasonably priced, though not as cheap as in Hong Kong.

Hopefully, Paris will overtake Singapore in the next EIU Survey – most people recall the #1, but not the #2 and #3 ranks, so it is better for Singapore to slip to #2 or #3 rank soon.


Vijay Srinivasan

18th March 2018


A lot of Cheese

I enjoyed high quality cheese varieties this week at one of the most well-known cheese cafes in Singapore, combined with some real good wines.

The Greenwood Avenue vicinity in Hillcrest Park is one of the best locales of Singapore evoking memories of an European town sans the benefit of a cooler temperature. There are only houses and some low-key shopping area here, but there are also some excellent restaurants, bars and cake shop, and all of it comes with free parking! Long time ago, I used to live not far from this place, and so I am familiar with the location.

The Cheese Artisans is an excellent choice if you are into cheeses. I was (and still am) only used to few varieties of cheeses that are available in the usual supermarkets, and my favourites have been Gouda and Edam. I like peppery, spicy and sometimes, the nutty varietals of cheese. The Cheese Artisans are completely different purveyors of direct-from-farm cheeses all from European farms. They have such a long cheese menu that the jaws drop and the eyes glaze – it is better to ask the waiter to put together a platter of different cheeses – some hard, some soft – and they do a good job based on the taste that you should describe to them before ordering. Walking into the cafe outlet located in Greenwood Avenue is an experience – you can not only look at the wines (many of which I haven’t seen before, but that is almost always the case!), the cheeses, the meats, etc., but also the cheese maturation facility where they store the cheese. I have never seen one before.

Suffice it to say that I relished the cheeses that they chose for me – I liked the blue cheese and the goat cheese as well. Of course, the wines were good too – I enjoyed the Greywacke Wild Sauvignon 2015 from Marlborough/New Zealand, the Chateau Clinet Ronan by Clinet Bourdeaux 2013, and the famous Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars Fay Cabernet Sauvignon 2012. All amazing wines, and to be enjoyed slowly with lots of cheese. You simply cannot go wrong with these wines. The suggestions by the waiters and the chef, as well as the service they provide seem impeccable, and suited to the newly initiated patrons who are just exploring cheeses for the first time in some detail.

The only thing I would suggest to the cafe is to have the right big bottom red wine glasses instead of using the same kind of glasses for both white and red. The red wines taste better with more breathing in a wider wine glass. Further, expensive wines need to be decanted for some 15 minutes before we can realise the full potential of the wine on our palate.

I would suggest that you try out The Cheese Artisans – it is not for the quickie grabs, but for a really leisurely evening play out with lots of talk and slow sampling of finest cheeses and sipping of full-bodied wines, all this will go to make a great evening, especially during these “winter” times that we are having in Singapore – rather “cold” at less than 23 deg C! The impact of climate change is being felt all over South East Asia now, which has been rather unusual. However, it provides a perfect setting for a great cheese adventure while you imagine you are in a farm in Switzerland!!

Have a great weekend, and enjoy your wines responsibly. Do not drink and drive. Avoid driving if you are drinking, like what I did – take a taxi which is the right thing to do (also, do not let another drunk companion drive you home!!!).


Vijay Srinivasan

13th January 2018

Three Great Wines for Christmas

My wine recommendations are closely watched? Ha Ha Ha……..Not yet…………..

Here are my three suggestions (I have added a “bonus” suggestion as well – look for it!):

  1. Peccavi No Regrets Cabernet Merlot 2014 – Australia
  2. Penley Estate Phoenix Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – Australia
  3. Clos Apalta Limited Release 2012 – Chile

And, the “bonus” recommendation is Glacomo Montresor Amarone della Valpolicella – Italy.

I elected to select all red wines this time as I continue to diversify into more reds (my choices earlier were dominated by Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc, probably also because I like to drink chilled drinks with some “hot” snacks!).

Let us first look at Peccavi from the Margaret River region of South West Australia. Not an expensive wine (which in my parlance means that it is around SGD 20 thereabouts), it demonstrates how a smooth, easy-drinking and fruity wine can create new interest in anyone. I felt this was almost a full-bodied wine with some nice acidity with a spiciness that I liked. That did not dilute its fruitiness. I also like it when the wine is ruby red in colour and slithers down the wide-bottomed red wine glass along the sides with a stickiness demonstrating the good quality of the wine. I would strongly recommend this wine for white wine drinkers who would like to try out some mildly complex red wines which are easy to drink. This is my choice when it comes to entertaining guests at the beginning of the conversation (!).

The Penley Estate produces some outstanding wines from Coonawarra, Australia. The Phoenix Cabernet Sauvigon from Penley Estate is more expensive in the range of SGD 30 to 40, so it is outside of my normal range for good value wines. However, this being the Christmas season, I decided to include it having recently tried this wine. I should say I was “floored” by the goodness of this Cabernet Sauvignon. Given its complexity and sophistication, I would suggest you unleash this on friends with some wine-drinking experience who usually go for red wines. It has dark, inky fruit with a flavourful delivery which you will enjoy. I am amazed at its sophistication in the price range it comes in (please note that this wine is available in Australia for around AUD 20 – lucky guys down under!).

Clos Apalta Limited Release 2012 from the Apalta region of the Colchagua Valley of Chile,  is among top 1% of all wines in the world. It is VERY expensive, more than SGD 170. I happened to taste and enjoy it in a business meeting at The American Club of Singapore, and completely fell for it, though I haven’t had the chance to look for it or again try it, given its unaffordable price. This is a very sophisticated world-class Bordeaux-style blended wine with strong aromas of blueberry, very juicy and ripe wine. It is a full-bodied wine with a rich long finish. Great wine to be recommended to business associates or at a special family function. Why not Christmas? This is an elegant wine from Chile – if only they can offer it at half the price, then it would be worth importing it.

Now, let me come to my “bonus” suggestion for Christmas – this one is with a long name from where else, Italy, Glacomo Montresor Amarone della Valpolicella. This is in the range of SGD 30, so not very expensive. I do not usually go for Italian wines, but this time I was again “floored”. This is an amazing blended red wine, intense ruby red in colour, with juicy cherry flavours. It is easy-drinking which is a surprise for Italian wines I have tried in the past. It is smooth with a nice finish. I thoroughly enjoyed this wine. Again, I would recommend this as a starting wine for a friends’ get-together. Overall, a lovely wine at a not too expensive price for a festive occasion.

All these wines are amazing, and I would highly recommend to anyone wanting to try out. Of course, there is no shortage of excellent wines, the issue has always been the price-to-value ratio. I also found my usual run-of-the-mill wines on special offer this weekend, and I bought a couple of bottle. Lest you think that I am always thinking about wines and drinking them, please rest assured that I am yet to open my latest bottle of red wine bought yesterday (so I cannot write about it!).

Drink responsibly, and do not drive while under alcohol influence. The police are everywhere looking for drunk driving dudes, and it is better to save lives while saving oneself, and not get jailed during this festive season.



Vijay Srinivasan

24th December 2017

Wild South

After writing on a rather heavy topic, I decided to taste some wine!

Here it is – “Wild South Sauvignon Blanc 2016” from Wild South Vineyards, Marlborough, New Zealand.

Excellent white wine at an affordable price (discounted) of SGD 20 (INR 940 and USD 15). I am sure this wine is going to cost much cheaper in New Zealand. I just saw a website where this wine is available at SGD 18!

There is no need to order expensive wines as higher price does not always translate to a better wine. Most of the time I have seen that restaurants offer similar wines at prices higher than SGD 60 which is ridiculously high. I am increasingly coming around to the view that it is better to carry my own wine bottles to restaurants and incur a small corkage fee (most restaurants in the mid range now allow this practice).

I strongly believe that we should not pay an unnecessarily high price for wines in restaurants – my limit is twice the retail price and I stop at that. Nothing more!

Take a look at Wild South Wines website, and especially at the Tasting Notes for this wine Tasting Notes should you wish to learn more about this specific wine.

Marlborough wines have never ceased to amaze me with their complexity and sophistication as a leading new world wine producing region from New Zealand, so far away that we rarely ever think of them. However, when choosing a sauvignon blanc at dinner time, I have always been partial towards Marlborough wines. They are great wines and should be enjoyed young.

This is a fresh and dry wine with heavy citrus and green apple influence which makes it come alive with a strong hint of acidity which tickles your palate. Excellent drinking wine with fruity aftertaste, and you keep going back for the next glass. Its light body makes one underestimate its sophistication, though it only has a light to medium finish.

It is still available at NTUC Fairprice Supermarket, and today being Sunday, it is time to go grocery shopping, right?

I would strongly recommend this wine for easy drinking. However, as usual, I would like to strongly suggest that you avoid too much of any alcohol, and do not drive after drinking. Think of not only yourself, but all those folks walking on the road.

Have a great weekend, whatever is left of it anyway!


Vijay Srinivasan

19th November 2017