Searching for a reasonably priced bottle of wine in Thailand is akin to Jason’s quest for the “golden fleece” or finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Exorbitant excise taxes on wine gives the Land of Smiles the dubious distinction of paying the highest rate on the entire planet. It also fuels chronic cross-border traffic to evade the tax and spurs the so-called gray market in wines that rumor says is mysteriously supplied by excess bottles from international airline flights.

Fortunately there are a few entrepreneurial marketers who have taken a hint from the groundbreaking success of in on-line sales and applied it to wine. A recent tasting soiree at the Athenee Hotel by the Wine Merchant Company served as platform for their announcement of their new on-line purchasing application called Virtual Wine Cellar. Identified as V | C it’s an app on iOS and Android that they contend “…makes ordering wine as easy as sliding a smart phone.”

As some 250 invited guests tasted fifty Wine Merchant selections poured by winery owners from Europe and Australia, company founder Nan Phuksawan explained the benefits of using the Virtual Cellar app. He compared it to reviewing a restaurant wine list with the added advantage of being able to access specifics about each winery, tasting notes and critics reviews. Prices were described as wholesale due to no retailer markup with delivery promised within two hours inside the greater Bangkok area.

Additional information is on the company website, Estella Wines is another Bangkok distributor offering on-line sales worth looking into.

Searching of another kind, known to some as a “pub crawl,” has of late become something of a bad dream for regulars of that genre in the Silom area. Pubs have a tradition, dating back centuries to their origin in England, of developing regular clientele who treat one another as extended family. Closure for whatever reason is disruptive and often remorseful.

One such mainstay on Convent Road, Molly Malone’s, formerly the Irish Xchange and Shenanigan’s, recently closed due to planned demolition of that entire block, leaving many regulars to seek solace elsewhere. Molly’s demise was preceded by the closure on Silom of Flann O’Brien’s which has subsequently been reopened as a branch of Hooters. Adding to the confusion the Yamato Hub, formerly the Barbican on Thaniya Rd., closed for several weeks without explanation.

On the plus side a new iteration of Shenanigan’s is opening at the corner of Patpong 1 and Suriwong so all is not lost. Fortunately the eleven year success of The Roadhouse at Rama IV and Suriwong continues and some of the refugees from other closures have, to their newfound pleasure, alighted there. Using your GPS app is almost mandatory for pub crawlers anymore!  

Written by: R. James Mullen