Macau Wine and Dine Festival 2015 kicks off tomorrow at the outdoor lagoon area of The Venetian Macao. ‘Immersing visitors in a world of wine appreciation and the art of pairing food and wine – complete with industry professionals to guide, inform and educate – this festival examines all aspects of the nectar of the gods,’ the rundown for this year’s five-day event reads. Featuring 38 booths of food and wine from around the world, an educational wine school, live entertainment, bands and local performers, this year’s five-day event will also include a “children’s area, more entertainment and more food,” said Bruno Simões, managing director of DOC DMC Macau, Hong Kong and an organiser of the Wine and Dine Festival. “There’s also a kid’s baking workshop for cookies and gingerbread.” “We realised last year that people with children weren’t going to the event because there’s no family area, and now we have enlarged it to accommodate that,” he added. While there’s a professional side to the event, this is primarily a consumer festival. Wine School offerings include lectures over the course of the five-day festival by wine professionals about various aspects of wine appreciation, understanding and pairing. During last year’s event, the wine school attracted an attendance of 90 per cent, surpassing organisers’ initial expectations. “Most of the wine classes are for the consumer. This is a consumer festival,” Simões said, adding that the classes are beginners’ level and focus on how to taste wine. “Part of the classes are for professionals, especially on weekdays in the afternoon. The ones on the weekend are totally consumer-oriented and most of them are in Cantonese as well,” he said. Raymond Vong, general manager of Henri’s Galley and also a supporting partner of the Wine and Dine Festival, added that “the wine market is adjusting. It’s getting back to reality. There was a big boom and now it’s become stable, much like the gaming industry.” Macau’s wine market is growing, particularly in the last 10 years with the opening up of a number of internationally renowned hotels that brought along their own wine. While Mr. Vong said that the market here is still pretty much focused on Portuguese wine, there has been an increase in the number of international wines on offer. “You don’t sell Portuguese wine in an Italian restaurant,” Mr. Simões said. Last year’s event closed with a 150 per cent growth in the number of visitors. Organisers said that although the entrance to the festival was free, the 30 booths were able to generate more than MOP300,000 in sales revenue compared to the festival in 2013. Since the first festival was held two years ago, there have been notable improvements to the event. “It’s been growing in size, as more people get to know about it. The first one was hosted in May, which was a mistake,” Mr. Vong said. “It was very hot, so we changed to March for a cooler wine tasting.” Other than floor space, the festival has also increased in terms of exhibitor numbers, restaurants and suppliers. And for this year? Organisers expect to see an increase in the number of visitors to the festival, not just that of local customers but also tourists who will be in Macau throughout the week. “Last year, we discovered that a lot of tourists were interested in this event, actually. We’re expecting more tourists [again this year],” Mr. Vong added. Entry to the five-day event is free and visitors can purchase MOP10 or HK$10 cash coupons or even a wine pass worth MOP100 or HK$100, which are redeemable at all booths and enable the purchase of food and beverages. This year’s festival runs from March 4 to March 8 at The Venetian Macao and is supported by Macau Economic Services (DSE), the Macau Trade and Investment Promotion Institute (IPIM), the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) and the Macau Sommelier Association. It is organised by The Wine Society of Macau and sponsored by The Venetian Macao.