Several well-established wholesale wine importers on Koh Samui now compete to offer a lengthy list of labels to the hospitality sector. Consequently, most of the island’s better menus boast a good selection of New and Old World wines, but these often come at a price. For wine lovers who like a glass at home, the shelves of the island’s major supermarkets are somewhat limited as they tend to focus on mass produced brands from Australia, Italy and Chile that are fine as a staple, but still considerably more expensive than in the west, and not something you would choose to make an impression with at a dinner party.
Fortunately, within the last year, two new wine shops have opened on Koh Samui, both offering a generous, affordable and interesting choice of wines from around the globe. Central Wine Cellar, opposite the Big C shopping centre, stocks everything from acceptable vin de table to some truly excellent vintage. You wouldn’t expect to find the likes of Château Beauregard and Châteauneuf-du-Pape on an island in Thailand, but it’s there, alongside a fine Barolo and some excellent mid-range labels from the vineyards of Europe, Australasia, South Africa and South America.
For traditionalists, a little browsing at Central Wine Cellar is quickly rewarded. Classic whites include Alsace and Riesling, while those with a more adventurous palette can opt for new blends such as the Shiraz Viognier, which combines Shiraz grapes with the white Viognier grapes to preserve the brightness of the red pigments during fermentation, but also add flavour. All the wines are stored in a 24-hour, temperature-controlled environment and with up to 400 top labels to choose from, you’re sure to find something to suit your taste and budget.
A little less exclusive perhaps, but with an equally diverse and appealing selection, Wine Connection has been importing selected wines from around the world for more than 10 years. It is now one of South East Asia’s largest integrated wine store chains, with 24 outlets in Thailand, including outlets in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Pattaya, Phuket, and more recently on Koh Samui. Wine Connection imports and sells its own selection of wines, with around 500 labels in stock, as well as a range of attractive glasses and wine accessories. You can even sip a glass of your favourite tipple as you peruse the shelves or try one of the special promotions there’s a wine bar onsite!
Wine Connection’s selection is varied and interesting and covers every known wine region on the planet. Special selections at the top end include a rare L’Abille de Fiuezal and a fine Zeltinger Riesling from the Mosel. There is also a good choice of Rose wines and a very affordable Argentinean Alge Cumbres Brut for special celebrations. The shop even stocks 3 and 5 litre wine boxes, which means it’s now possible to sip some great vintage at your leisure while enjoying the superb Samui views.