For those with champagne tastes and a beer budget, this year's Hong Kong Wine and Dine Festival has some treats in store.
For only HK$150 wine lovers will have the chance to savour the delights of the famed Chateau Mouton Rothschild red Bordeaux at the four-day event, which starts today.
The festival organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board is being held at West Kowloon Waterfront Promenade and, with 311 booths - about 30 more than last year - it is not short of surprises for bargain hunters. As the Chinese appetite for favourite brand Lafite Rothschild cooled at the beginning of the year, prices of other top and mid-range wines also went down, exhibitors said.
Enoteca, which is exhibiting in the Grand Tasting Pavilion, is offering a 2008 Mouton Rothschild at HK$4,800. It cost more than HK$8,000 a year ago, the company's Matt Li said. Visitors can try it using three HK$50 grand tasting tokens.
Another exhibitor, Jointek Fine Wines' Dick Lam, said people could look for good value in mid-range wines this year. A 2006 Chateau Lascombes was priced at HK$705, down from HK$900 last year.
Still, bargains may not last for long. Lam said mainland clients were buying in bigger quantities as the yuan strengthened against the US dollar last month. Chateau Pavie, which has just had its classification upgraded to Premier Grand Cru status, was a hot favourite. A bottle cost HK$1,100 before the upgrade, but its price tag recently rose to HK$1,580.
Italian wines are making their presence felt this year, with about 20 exhibitors joining the fair.
Those who prefer food can sample internationally acclaimed dishes. Chefs from Michelin-two-star restaurants in Italy - Piccolo Lago in Verbania and Rossellinis in Ravello - will cook on Saturday and Sunday.
A sweet pavilion housing 10 dessert booths will be set up for the first time this year. The Vocational Training Council's Chinese Cuisine Training Institute is tempting visitors with Chinese desserts including lotus seed paste birthday buns and rice cakes, paired with different dessert wines.
Also on offer is an Australian dessert wine Calliope Rare Tokay from Buller Wines and a Hungarian Tokaj "noble rot" dessert wine introduced by Veritas Wine.
Other highlights include the priciest picks: a HK$40,000 ginseng grape wine being shown by the American Ginseng Museum, and a sparkling wine with gold flakes from the Winespot Company.
The Tourism Board is expecting a turnout of about 170,000 people during the four-day event.