Wine Culture & Fine Dining in Bali
A fine dining establishment with an extensive wine collection wouldn’t be complete without an expertly trained and highly knowledgeable sommelier. With growing fine dining and wine culture in Indonesia, Indonesian sommeliers have lived up to the global standard of excellence for beverage services within the hospitality industry, serving with integrity, exemplary knowledge and humility.
The fine dining and wine culture in Indonesia has grown and evolved over the last few decades with numerous fine dining restaurants opening across the country, especially in the capital of Jakarta and the island of Bali. The market for fine dining and wine culture has also expanded due to maturing tastes, improved standards of living and a demand for a food and beverage industry that matches global standards.
Read on the understand the following points about fine wine in Bali
Indonesian Fine Dining Culture
Fine dining is a relatively recent phenomenon in Indonesia, at least if we are to take the modern interpretation. European-style haute cuisine has long been the cornerstone for the standards of fine dining, the traditions both in the kitchen and the dining room paving the way for how we see the experience today. Often, it is European cuisine associated with this style of dining as well.
The modern day fine dining industry likely developed with the arrival of international-chain hotels in Indonesia, which brought with them the expected high standards of service. Restaurants of such hotels were often the most lavish and luxurious dining destinations in any city — to a certain degree, this still remains true. Whilst the industry has expanded out of this, it kickstarted the careers of many Indonesian sommeliers, chefs, restaurant managers, mixologists and more, which helped to spread the great dining experiences beyond the confines of hotels.
Today, standalone fine dining restaurants, wine lounges and specialist bars can be found throughout Indonesia, but these are certainly most dominant in Jakarta and Bali where a more international market — and a great economy — have helped to develop the culture more. As a result, evenings of degustation dinners and wine pairings are a popular pastime among residents, both local and foreign.
Indonesian Wine Culture
Indonesia’s viticulture history dates back to the 18th century when the locals assisted Dutch explorers to grow the country’s first vines in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara. Then in the 1800s, the Central Agriculture Committee expanded vine areas in the Besuki and Banyuwangi regions in Java.
Even though Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country with several alcohol prohibitions, the wine culture in Indonesia is quite evident as liquor is thought of as a social lubricant that brings people together, whether in a social setting such as dinner events or private settings such as a night in with your group of friends.
And although wine production in Indonesia is limited, except for a handful of local wine producers making both red wine and white wine, Indonesia has a decent wine trade due to the buying power of the middle to upper class who enjoy what is considered to be a Western wine culture. This has led the government to increase the level of import quotas and the number of importers of wine and spirits allowed into the country.
Wine Selections and Prices in Indonesia
As a country that is a relatively big consumer and importer of wine, Indonesia has a wide range of wine selections in places that sell wine including restaurants, wine bars, liquor shops, etc. From affordable local wines to pricier imported wines, whether you like red wine, white wine, rose wine or sparkling wine, it all depends on your preference as a wine drinker.
Bali has now a few local wineries. Locally made wine brands such as Hatten Wines make wines from grapes grown on the island, after years of research and development they have even managed to harvest Syrah and Chenin Blanc varieties. Other brands use imported grapes, then produce the wine on the island, providing for a more affordable bottle.
Thanks to success of Indonesia’s hospitality industry — i.e. hotels, restaurants and bars — wine has become incredibly popularised (and normalised) throughout the country. This means there continues to be a healthy market for international, or import wines. We find wines of all countries sold in Indonesia, from the best French Moët Champagne, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon, and more. Of course, availability may be an issue but the better restaurants will have the better sommeliers, who will make the better wine lists!
A sommelier is a wine steward. A trained and well-versed wine professional who specializes in all things related to wine service, along with wine and food pairing. Sommeliers commonly work in fine dining restaurants that have an extensive wine collection.
In Indonesia, there is an organization for Indonesian Sommeliers which is the Indonesia Sommelier Association (ISA). A non-profit organization, the ISA has been established in Jakarta since 2009 and is an affiliate of The Association de la Sommellerie International (ASI), which was established in June 1969 in Reims, France.
The mission of the ISA is to raise the sommelier profession as one of the esteemed and respected positions in the hospitality industry. Some of the events that the ISA organizes include wine workshops, tastings and an annual Sommelier competition.
First held in 2009, the Indonesia Sommelier Competition accommodates exchanges between several hotel and restaurant professionals, promotes healthy competition between participants, encourages them to hone their skills, and assists n broadening the knowledge of the sommelier profession in general. Participants must be Indonesian citizens and must be employed in restaurants, wine bars, wine merchants or the enogastronomy business.
Through this, the ISA aims to elevate the standard of wine services in Indonesia, expand the knowledge and prepare its members for their role as a sommelier in the hospitality industry with the hopes of boosting customers’ confidence and appreciation of wines.
I Made Yudiana, A Star Sommelier in Bali
Sommeliers in Bali are few and far between, and I Made Yudiana (affectionately known as Yudi) is certainly a rare breed. With over 10 years of experience in the food and beverage industry, Yudi has a level 2 WSET certification under his belt, covering both wines and spirits, but with a particular penchant for premium international wines. He has applied his knowledge as Sommelier at five-star resorts including St. Regis Bali and W Seminyak – Bali and is now the Restaurant Manager and Head Sommelier at Apéritif Restaurant and Bar Bali.
Where to Wine & Dine?
There are countless fine dining and wining destinations around the country, but Bali is home to numerous renowned fine dining restaurants. So where to wine and dine in Bali? Well, if you’re after a good wine list, then it’s best to trust the professionals.
I Made Yudiana has curated a list of over 180 premium wines from around the world at Apéritif Restaurant and Bar in Ubud, all ready to be served alongside a decadent dinner, in one of Bali’s most exquisite restaurants.
Located in Ubud, the award-winning Apéritif Restaurant & Bar is set amidst a lush jungle valley surroundings. The restaurant is designed with a 1920s inspired style, featuring black and white tiles that lead up to the main dining area, adorned with vintage décor and furniture, and colonial-style windows.
Led by Executive Chef Nic Vanderbeeken, Apéritif presents an innovative and eclectic fine dining degustation menu that draws inspiration from the Indonesian archipelago, perfectly blending elements of Indonesian cuisine with European style dishes.
A standout feature in the restaurant is the remarkable wine cellar lined up on one side of the restaurant, featuring premium Champagne and vintage fine wines. Aperitif also utilizes wine dispensers, which means you can enjoy an exclusive red wine by the glass and not have to purchase the entire wine bottle.
The fine dining and wine culture in Indonesia is thriving and will undoubtedly keep on growing. Fine dining establishments have always been a popular choice for those celebrating a special occasion from birthdays to anniversaries, and will continually do so.
A fine dining establishment wouldn’t be complete without a fantastic wine collection along with a professionally trained sommelier, and as a big consumer and importer of wine, Indonesia’s wine culture will also continue to evolve, especially since Indonesia also has several successful local wine brands.
Moreover, organizations such as the Indonesia Sommelier Association plays a huge part in raising awareness of the sommelier profession and giving them the proper training to be a professional sommelier with standards that are on par with the global standards.
Click here to discover the wine and food menus at Apéritif.