Auckland-based Sam Kim has been involved in the New Zealand hospitality and wine industry for over 30 years. During this time, he has accumulated 23 years of experience judging for various national and global wine competitions and magazines, including the Air New Zealand Wine Awards, New Zealand International Wine Show, the Royal Easter Show Wine Awards, Decanter Asia Wine Awards, the New Zealand Aromatic Wine Competition, Spiegelau International Wine Competition, Marlborough Wine Show and Cuisine magazine. He publishes his own web-based wine magazine wineorbit.co.nz, which features reviews of both New Zealand and international wines.
How old were you when you had your first wine ‘moment’?
“I’ll have to say 20, which was the legal drinking age back then. While working at a restaurant back in 1985, the wine waiter (called sommelier these days of course) poured me a small glass from a bottle that a diner didn’t finish. It was Deinhard’s Green Label Liebfraumilch, which was the most delicious liquid I ever tasted at the time.”
What does your own wine cellar look like and what is your most recent addition?
“Around 550 bottles. Te Whare Ra Clayvin Vineyard Pinot Noir 2017 – a stonkingly good NZ Pinot.”
In the last 12 months, which grape have you drunk the most of?
“Probably NZ Pinot Noir – trying to drink all the good ones but there are so many. It’s a losing battle.”
In the last 12 months, what’s the most exciting region you’ve discovered or re-discovered?
“Margaret River in Western Australia. Exquisite Chardonnays and flatteringly classy Cabernet blends.”
What has been your most memorable wine and food moment?
“Fluffiest three-egg omelette with generous shavings of white truffle, matched with rich Pinot Gris from Alsace. Indescribably gratifying.”
Wine styles continue to fluctuate. Where do you think the wine-style pendulum is swinging?
“The so-called Mediterranean grapes, such as Grenache, Tempranillo, will continue to grow in popularity, as they are not too heavy but flavoursome with seductive spicy nuances. Also, organic wines, and wines in cans.”
What do you enjoy most about judging at the NWWA?
“Having the chance to pick wines that consumers will love. But above all it’s the people that really makes the whole thing so enjoyable. And there’s an immensely satisfying feeling that’s very hard to describe. I know, it’s the ‘vibe’!”