Monday, December 14, 2009

what wine do they drink in Geylang?

It’s the time of the season for merry festivities – of sumptuous dinning with a glass of good wine perhaps.

Going by the flyers one gets in the letterbox – the bottle of wine would most probably be a chardonnay, a cabernet or a merlot from either the vineyards of France, Australia or California in the US.

With a picture of sleazy - where streetwalkers ply their services till the early hours of dawn on any fine weather weekend, the average Singaporean would perhaps find it hard to relate the finer taste of wine drinking with Geylang.

They do. At the Turtle House restaurant in Guillemard road, on the fringe of Geylang opposite Kong Hwa School, red wine & white wine is on the drink menu.

Well, other than the Turtle House, where else and what wine do they drink there?

As I was passing one good morning I chanced upon a few empty wine bottles left outside one of the many Chinese migrants operated restaurants along Geylang Road, and being curious of what wine the diners drink, I picked one up for a closer look.

Lo & behold, on a closer look – I was staring into history thro the empty wine bottle.

The label states:

Changyu Reisling Dry White wine
张裕 雷司令干白葡萄酒

Changyu Pioneer Wine company Limited Yantai, China,

It was a bottle of wine from China. And with it a note that explains the history of the Changyu wine, which perhaps of all wines sold in Singapore, has the closest connection with this island.

For Changyu winery was the pioneer wine producer in China. It was established a century & more ago in Yantai - 烟台 - Shantung Province, ahead of the better known Chinese wines abroad – such as Dynasty, or Great Wall.

The founder of the winery Chang Pi-shi - 張弼士 - aka Cheong Fatt-Tze - was the mandarin capitalist from Nanyang – (South-east Asia) who for a while was appointed consulate of the Qing court in Singapore in the 1890’s.

Well, Geylang is not just your any Geylang, it’s rich is history too, and even in the wine they drink…


1. Changyu wine -

2. Chang Pi-shih

Chang Pi-shih hailed from the Hakka district of Dapu.
At Lorong 22, Geylang is the Char Yong Association of the Dapu Hakka - a clan assocation with a museum on the upper floor -

3. Turtle House restaurant