EVERYONE loves a good deal - no matter how deep his pockets are. Some people call it a Singaporean syndrome (I call it a human one), but freebies, in whatever form, usually have a funny way of generating overwhelming response. This obviously has not escaped the attention of smart wine companies, and I've found a certain amount of joy hanging out by the supermarket shelves the last few weeks, poring over the 'value-added packs' available during the festive season.
From pretty packaging (so they make good home party gifts) to gifts such as wine openers, it is like a new Toys 'R' Us store out there for drinkers.
Since I have more than enough openers (you need only one really - preferably a 'waiter's friend' model that sommeliers use. The rest is pure vanity), it was the Wyndham Estate Seasons Plate Twin Pack that caught my eye.
This power pack includes the Bin 888 Cabernet Merlot and Bin 222 Chardonnay, which solves the annoying 'red or white?' dilemma that comes up when you are wine-hunting with someone else.
The wines from Wyndham Estate are supervised by Phil Laffer, who is also responsible for the quality at the rest of the Orlando-Wyndham group's wineries, such as Jacob's Creek.
I've always had great respect for how he manages to keep the consistency and give a little more value than what you would expect for the price.
However, it was the freebie - the Seasons Plate - that got this Singaporean excited.
Having been to Wyndham Estate in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales last month, I had the chance to find out what the Seasons Plate meant to the Australians.
Since its launch in 1995, great Australian chefs from Cheong Liew (of The Grange in Adelaide, who opens his restaurant only three times a week), to Neil Perry (consultant to Qantas airlines and chef-owner of the awards-studded Rockpool in Sydney), to Serge Dansereau (of Bather's Pavillion, owner of one of the best places for a lazy weekend brunch in Sydney) have created dishes to go with the wines from Wyndham Estate at this perpetually sold-out event called Seasons Plate.
At the end of a lunch held on the grounds of the winery, each guest gets to take home a limited-edition Seasons Plate as a keepsake. Designs change annually (a different artist gets the chance to showcase his interpretation), so this doubles as a collectible.
I've also recently found out that only 900 pieces have been brought in to Singapore. I'm getting the first piece of my Seasons Plate collection this Christmas.
Both the Bin 888 and Bin 222 make ideal party wines - they are pleasant and affordable. Bin 888 has ripe blackberry and plummy flavours, with silky soft tannins. The Bin 222 is classically 'Chardonnay' with its white melon notes and creamy feel. Drink quickly, then wait for next year's Seasons Plate pack.
With a red and white wine on hand, food pairing is an easy task, especially since these wines were made with that intention. Bin 888 will go with meat, from roast chicken to beef steak. Bin 222 will pair well with a Waldorf salad or fresh seafood.