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08.13.2005

The World's Least Likely Wine Region?: Thailand

Ninety degree heat. Ninety percent humidity. Incredibly high precipitation. Flat, low altitude topology. Sounds like exactly the wrong place to grow grapes, right? Well apparently no one told the Thais that. And when we were talking about new wine regions to watch here last week, we certainly forgot to include Thailand.

Growing wine grapes in Thailand has to be done a bit differently than pretty much everywhere else, as you might expect, starting with the staggering fact that they actually get two crops of grapes per year without even trying(!). This incredible growth needs to be carefully checked through judicious pruning and dropping of fruit in order to get grapes that are ripe and well suited for winemaking. Of course, local varietals, Podkum and Malaga blanc, that can flourish in the heat and the particularly rich, loamy soil also have to be used.

Thailand has been growing wine grapes for some time, at least since 1994 (as a small entry in my '94 edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine indicates), but apparently in the last 6 years interest and production has boomed to the point that we're even starting to see some Thai wine in the United States. The Thais also seem to be focused particularly on making wine that goes well with their spicy food, which is great, and makes me want to try some.

The Napa Register, of all sources, has the full story on Thai wine. Check it out.

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The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise adventures on the wine route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud