Wine on the beach
In Vietnam, wines and bubbly are taxed at 100% when going through Customs. Of course, it is on the CIF value and then VAT is added. The importer/distributor will add his mark up because he runs a business too.
We have two major players in Vietnam, and they do share something like 90% of the business of the Country. So roughly, everybody has the same wine list. Ok, not entirely true, as we have some emerging niche importer/distributor, and as the big players have a huge wine list from all over the world, you may pick some which are not sold by everybody.
How we set up our wine list? The directions that we take are very easy. Wines from the old world and wines from the new world; wines, or more accurately grapes, that the Guests want. So, we have all kinds of red and all kinds of white. As per the grapes, we favor well known wineries so the Guests can easily recognize the wine they like.
What we did as well at the Chen Sea is to work with a small importer/distributor so to have wines from Italy that nobody has on the Island, for the moment. We became the “Luce” Ambassador; “Luce” is a Grand Tuscan developed nearly 25 years ago, by Mondavi and Frescobaldi in Barollo territory. This wine, and even their second wine, is excellent, this is a great wine.
In term of pricing, we have affordable wines and we have more expensive wines. As the purchasing price is very high, we cannot have normal mark up for the industry. Some top Luxury properties can, individual up-market restaurants in Hanoi or Saigon, can. But we cannot.
Guests have the tendency to compare our selling prices to their buying price at home in a store. This is a bit weird because at least rates should be compared with what the hotels do in your own country. It would give a better understanding if our pricing was compared to other hotels and resorts in the Country, but this is not coming to their mind.
Five years ago, a French Guest said to me: “Olivier, when I am with my son, once in a while, somewhere in this world, we love to share a good dinner and a good bottle, please get some great wines as I don’t care how it costs when I invite my son.” Real Foodies you could say but only one Guest said this to me in five years.
We have managed to set up a nicely balanced wine lists with reasonable pricing, and many professionals in the wine industry, export side, confirmed it to me.