One man travels around the world with his pledge he made to himself. He is searching for a collection of the best wines to feature in his stores and it is the commitment to deliver the best wine experience to customers glass by glass. If “Wine Connection” is the name of the child, the name of its father must be “Michael Trocherie” – a man who is in our focus from now on.
Michael is the founder and the CEO of the Wine Connection. The company is Thailand’s leading wine importer and known among wine lovers for its quality selection. There are more than over 500 different wines and other booze available in its 25 stores throughout Thailand in various locations namely Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, Pattaya, Samui and Phuket plus one online store.
“It was about 15 years ago when I started doing my wine business in Asia. It’s the 12th year in Thailand and now seven years in Phuket particularly. Our work is to select the wine, bring them to Thailand and make wine available for individuals, supply them in our own store, to the hotels and to our business friends in Thailand,” told Michael.
When we asked about his business in South East Asia, it’s kind of a surprise to learn that Michael has no plan to further expand his business into other countries – at least for now. “At present, apart from Thailand, we are also already in Singapore and Vietnam – three countries. I didn’t plan to go further to any other country. For Thailand, we are the main importer by now. I don’t know what level we achieved but I’m sure we are one of the biggest.”
He however never thinks to stop.
“We have a future plan to develop what we currently have in hand though. There are three main directions we are focusing on. One is our own wine store. Two is the wholesale dealership on catering to hotels and restaurants. And last it our newly developed concept ‘Wine Connection Deli & Bistro’ – our own restaurant. So we have three ways to expand depending on the opportunity. We will probably open more stores, more Deli & Bistro’s or more branches within hotels and restaurants.”
About the tip Michael used as a compass for his success, he said there is no other way but to work hard and suggested people “try to do something different that the others don’t do yet. Always be a little bit inventive. A lot of people like to copy but I don’t. I only take the inspiration I saw from other countries and bring it into Thailand.”
“Try to do something different that the others don’t do yet. Always be a little bit inventive.”
Wine is considered foreign for traditional Thai culture. It is generally seen as a privilege of the elites and has been regarded as an indicator of social ‘class’ for many Thais. But this is not something that will easily discourage Michael; he said “I don’t think the attribute is the problem. Actually wine is not only for elites. The idea of Wine Connection is to make wine available for everyone. For example, now you can buy a bottle of wine at only 350 baht and I believe a lot of Thai people can afford it. It’s not expensive. That’s why we go everywhere even in suburb areas. We open our stores in many places where other people don’t, not only in the business areas. And I’m glad we see more and more people open their minds for wine drinking and consume it more often.” “In my opinion, wine is the most interesting beverage that contains alcohol. It associates with culture and discovery.
There are thousands of wines you can explore, not only products itself but also for its culture. It’s like a journey that you can learn and share with others. When you drink, you don’t drink alone, right? So wine drinking is about socializing too. I feel like I am reading books from many countries.”
How about a perfect match? “There is no perfect match in the world of wine. It’s just a choice. Nobody says you have to drink this or don’t drink that. It depends on the situation and your feeling at that moment. The weather, your emotion, and your friends are involved as well. You have to listen to yourself.” As a big fan of wine and an amateur of Thai cuisine, Michael affirmed, “Wine can unquestionably get along with Thai food. Rosy wine is very suitable. White wine, especially those aromatic wines like Riesling, are pretty perfect in my opinion. For those who prefer red wine, it can be all right too but it’s little bit ‘warm’ for tropical climate. However, you have to keep in mind that this is enjoyment. It’s not about reading text books. There is no limitation.”
To start exploration, “You may need a fridge to store the wines. It is good to keep it below 20 degree Celsius. When you drink, the wine shouldn’t be too warm. The best temperature for red wine is 18 degree Celsius and 8 degree Celsius for white wine. Remember to drink at the right temperature, this is really important. The same wine, you drink at right temperature you will enjoy but when you drink it too warm you will not.”
Still, I had a doubt in my head about selecting good wines, but Michael explained, “Every country has good wines now. But it doesn’t mean you can have good wines everywhere and you cannot say that French is good, Chile is bad. Every country produces both good and bad wines. It’s very confusing I know. That’s why it’s good to have people choose for you. That’s why we are here. That’s why you come to my store. When you pick the wine, it is ok already. I don’t care if it’s cheaper, I don’t care about the brand. I care only about its quality and its good value. Therefore I travel around the world, pick some wines and bring them back to my shelves.”
While wine seems incomprehensible for many people and may be the reason why people hesitate to start, Michael wiped out our anxiety. “You don’t need to know anything. Don’t make it complicated. Just take it easy. When you visit a restaurant, you order a glass and see what happens. It is that simple. I’d recommend you to start from the new world i.e. Australia, Chile, Argentina, or South Africa because they are usually easier to understand. You can start with the medium range wines, no need to buy the expensive wines but don’t choose too low, so that you can enjoy it.”
Very many thanks to Mr. Michael Trocherie for his valuable chat. You have enlightened us and made us be courageous to start drinking wine.