Wednesday, 17 June 2015

A most unlikely wine museum delivers the goods

There are several good reasons for visiting Macau. Its many luxury casinos and resorts are a major drawcard and the food, calling on mainly Portuguese and Chinese influences, is outstanding. 

Macau lies on the western side of the Pearl River Delta across from Hong Kong, which is about 64 kilometers to the east - and the two will soon be joined by a bridge, which is currently under construction.


Macau is one of the most densely populated places on earth and its historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city state hosts the Macau Formula Three Grand Prix street race each November. 


It is, at first glance, an unlikely place to stumbled upon a fascinating wine museum, but its presence is explained by Macau's history as a Portuguese colony. Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 1550s and it was administered by Portugal from the mid-16th century until late 1999, when it was the last remaining European colony in Asia. 


It is now a special administrative region of China, although you don't need a visa.

Most of the wines you see in Macau are still Portuguese and anyone wanting to know about wine from the Iberian Peninsula has come to the right place.



The museum includes information on how wine is made, with displays of wine-making implements and barrels. 

There are different sections for each region of Portugal, featuring not only fascinating background info but quaint traditional costumes. 


The 1400 square-metre space is divided into a number of areas (historical information/wine cellar/museum and exhibitions), using maps, texts, photos, tiles and videos to relate the story of wine. 


Information is provided in Chinese, Portuguese and English.

The aim of each section is not only to provide information regarding wine and grapevines, but also to recreate the atmosphere of the production of wine, showing the visitor the modern and traditional tools connected to wine production.


There is also a tasting station, where visitors can sample both table wines and fortifieds like port and Madeira - although you won't be able to try the 1815 port that is on display. The young guy conducting the tastings was multilingual and very knowledgeable.

There is, of course, also a shop where you can buy a bottle or two, but there is no hard sell and this is a fun place to spend an hour or two of discovery. 


I was pleasantly surprised to find that even Tasmania gets a mention in the section devoted to the rest of the world, with special reference to the quality of its sparkling wines. Impressive. 


The Macau Wine Museum is located at the Tourism Activities Centre, No.431, Rua Luís Gonzaga Gomes, Macau. It is open from 10am-8pm daily except on Tuesdays, when it is closed.

www.macau.com/en/Wine-Museum-2-22-151.html 

For details on visiting Macau: www.macautourism.gov.mo

Cathay Pacific has over 70 flights a week to Hong Kong from six major Australian cities, with direct high-speed ferry links to Macau taking less than an hour. For details see www.cathaypacific.com.au and for fares visit www.cathaypacific.com/cx/en_AU/destinations/flights-to-hong-kong.html 

# The writer was a guest of Macau Tourism 


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