Nutawan ‘Nuch’ Jumpanak, the chief sommelier at Anantara Siam Bangkok, tells us the best wines to try on your next trip to Thailand, and her favourite female winemakers in the world. Hint: it’s all about tasting harmony in your glass.
AS A WOMAN WHO LOVES WINE, it especially joys me to meet female winemakers and sommeliers, given how relatively few there are in the business worldwide. Studies have shown that women have more accurate senses of taste, smell, sight and texture, and there are believed to be more female than male supertasters in the world, so as the numbers of women in wine grow, everyone can benefit from their expertise. Thailand’s contemporary viticulture industry was pioneered by a young woman, and every year you meet an increasing number of female wine importers, experts and somms here. Among them is Nutawan ‘Nuch’ Jumpanak, Anantara Siam Bangkok’s first-ever female chief sommelier.
Among her awards and credentials, she was the Winner of the Best Thailand Sommelier competition 2019; Winner of the Chilean Wine Trophy competition 2019; Certified Sommelier Certificate- Court of Master Sommelier U.S.A. 2017; Introductory Certificate-Court of Master Sommelier U.S.A. 2014.
As Khun Nuch is actively trying to push girl power in wine, uniting the female sommelier community, while also managing the juicy grapes programs at the five diverse restaurants plus bar at Anantara Siam, and helping quench the thirsts of guests at Anantara hotels around the globe, we thought she would be the perfect person to chat with about Thai wines, her favorite pairings across an international spectrum, and her favorite women winemakers in the world.
Read on, but don’t be surprised if it you’re immediately ready for wine o’clock.
T+L SEA: How did you get interested in wine?
Nutawan ‘Nuch’ Jumpanak: Back in 2008, I was keen to improve my beverage knowledge and language skills and part of my journey to communicate in English was reading the back label on wine bottles. I realized that wine and its endless conversation topics allowed me to delve much deeper and learn more than any other beverages ever could.
T+L SEA: Tell us about Thailand’s wine industry. What favorites do you recommend?
Nutawan ‘Nuch’ Jumpanak: In Thailand, we have a leading wine production area in Khao Yai that has gained an international reputation for good new wine and the most notable producer is GranMonte, literally meaning a big mountain. The winemaker is Visootha Lohitnavy (Khun Nikki) and with her international experience she has carefully crafted a wide range of white, red, rose and sweet wines. One of my favorites is Cremant, the sparkling wine with made in a very traditional method and handcrafted during the entire process. GranMonte also created a private label called the Fighting Fish series for Anantara, and it’s available at all of our hotels and resorts throughout Thailand.
T+L SEA: What are your favorite female-made wines in the world?
Nutawan ‘Nuch’ Jumpanak:
- Visootha ‘Nikki’ Lohitnavy from GranMonte winery. Khao Yai, Thailand
GranMonte Cremant Extra Brut. Handcrafted Chenin Blanc in a traditional method, it has a floral and fresh citrus note with a touch of a pear scent. On the palate it has a dry and refreshing acidity, light to medium body with a fine mousse, ideal for a deep-fried light snack before meal.
- Méo Sakorn-Seriès from Chateau de Cabidos. The Béarn, France
Cabidos Saint Clement Petit Manseng Doux. Petit Manseng is an indigenous grape of southwest France. The wines have a ripe tropical fruit note: it is sweet on the palate, with lively acidity to counterbalance the sweetness making complexity and one of the best wines for cooling down the spiciness of Thai dishes.
- Caroline Maret from Domaine de la Charbonniere. Rhone Valley, France
Chateauneuf-de-Pape Cuvée Les Hautes Brusquieres. A single vineyard blend of Grenache and Syrah, the wines dominate with ripe black fruits, and baked spice, on the palate the wine has a rich-powerful complex, ripe tannin, medium acidity helping to balance the wine. From the first sip I ever had, I understood this is must be a woman winemaker because of it was such a harmonious, powerful wine.
- Sandrine Logette-Jardin from Duval Leroy Champagne. Cote de Blancs, France
Duval Leroy Rose Prestige Premier Cru. A blend of three noble Champagne grapes from Premier cru vineyard in the Champagne region. Red berry-driven fruits note following with a complexity layer of fine yeast, on the palate it is dry with the complexity of fruits and maturity, vibrant acidity and longevity in the aftertaste.
T+L SEA: At Anantara Siam, you have an Italian restaurant, Japanese, Thai, Peruvian and a steakhouse! Lots of diverse flavors. Could you suggest a food menu item at each of the hotel’s restaurants and a wine pairing to go with it?
Nutawan ‘Nuch’ Jumpanak: At Anantara Siam we provide a wide selection of wines to complement all cuisines. Here are some great pairings I’d recommend for your next visit:
T+L SEA: What other female somms in Bangkok do you suggest we should go visit?
Nutawan ‘Nuch’ Jumpanak: It’s a small group of women sommeliers here in Bangkok but the best are:
1. Prakaidaow Poohuotalat (Khun Kae), Wine Guru at Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort & Spa
2. Sudarat Jankaew (Khun Bella), Sommelier at Kimpton Maa-Lai Bangkok
3. Atchara Wongthai Palleros, (Khun Apple), Sommelier at Central World Wine Cellar
T+L SEA: What is being done/should be done to get more Asian women in our region to the top of the game in the wine industry?
Nutawan ‘Nuch’ Jumpanak: Education is the key to understanding wine, in recent years our small group of female sommeliers meet and share our knowledge, we do blind tastings, test our theory knowledge and talk about wine trends. We also listen to what the global wine professionals are doing. But most of all, you need passion to be successful and I look forward to helping more women in this field in the future.
This story first appeared on Travel+Leisure Asia Malaysia.