Hosting tips for the Holidays!

It’s official – silly season has arrived! At Merchants we love a party, and we’ve got the hottest tips to keep your wine cool and your party happening!

Sparkling Shiraz is the ultimate party drop – red wine with bubbles served super-chilled – guaranteed to pep up even the dullest of gatherings!

We’re loving the Blue Pyrenees Sparkling Shiraz – the winner of the trophy for Best Sparkling Red following the release of the 2017 Australian Sparkling Wine Show results.
(Congrats Andrew Koerner and team!)


To produce this Western Victorian specialty, the winemaking team at Blue Pyrenees Estate choose select parcels of fruit from the estate vineyard. Eighteen months in oak vats & barrels, followed by 1-2 years bottle maturation before disgorging allows the production of a methode traditionnelle sparkling Shiraz which expresses the terroir of the estate in a full- flavoured yet elegant style.

Aromas of spice, ripe plummy fruit, a hint of oak & mature chocolate characters lead seamlessly into flavours of sweet spiced dark plum fruit & rich chocolate confection. Lingering soft tannins, spices & a dry finish create a versatile food match that pairs beautifully with a wide range of dishes. We’ve paired it with everything from smoked mackarel to vanilla ice-cream and it works a dream!

The trophy for Best Sparkling Red Wine joins a collection of impressive accolades for this ever consistent non-vintage sparkling Shiraz, including three in a row, Gold / Blue Gold (Top 100) at the 2016, 2017 & 2018 Sydney International Wine Competitions, where wines are uniquely judged with food

We especially love Sparkling Shiraz in Australia at Christmas time and it pairs with everything from baked turkey, smoked fish, BBQ sausages to chocolate ice-cream and Xmas pudding as we found at our recent Festive Wine Dinner at Merchants!

Another critical party tip is temperature – make sure your bubbles are served super-cold for optimum enjoyment – around 10 degrees Celsius. A good old Aussie tip is to fill the bathtub with ice to keep the bottles ultra-chilled on smoking hot summer days! When guests arrive, they plonk their plonk in the bath before joining the throng!

Finally, we are fanatical about clean glasses! Be sure there is not a skerrick of dishwashing soap residue on the glasses – it will ruin the flavour and burst your bubble, (and there’s nothing’s worse than flat fizz!!)

Appropriate glassware is always a good thing too – flutes will keep the bubbles in your bubbles
Cheers everybody and Happy Holidays!!!

BYOB Restaurants in the East

Ainslie, Dave and Andrew Koerner (Blue Pyrenees Winemaker)
From left to right: Dave, Ainslie & Blue Pyrenees’ Winemaker Andrew Koerner @ Sin Hoi Sai Eating House

The price of wine in restaurants in Singapore is crazy sometimes – it’s one of the reasons founders Ainslie & Dave started Merchants – they were aghast at supermarket wine brands on wine lists for over $100++ per bottle! (Wines you could buy in Australia for $15…)

Their secrets to Singapore $survival is BYO – bring your own.

BYO bottle of Merchants wine to one of the restaurants listed below, and even if there’s a small corkage fee – you’re way in front when the bill arrives, and drinking top-class wine from small producers.

It’s a win win! Here’s our trusty list of BYO friendly restaurants in the East. Central and Western editions coming soon!

Al Forno Italian Restaurant

A cosy Italian restaurant nestled along East Coast road that offers authentic Italian cuisine – from pastas to pizzas.

  • Corkage Fee: $20
  • Hours: 12pm – 2pm & 6.30pm – 10pm
  • Address: 400 East Coast Road, Singapore 428996
  • Tel: 6348 8781
  • Visit website
Chilli Padi Nonya Restaurant

Chilli Padi Nonya restaurant exemplifies the best of peranakan cuisine. Pair your wines with a wide array of tantalizing dishes such as Cabbage Roll and Curry Fish Head.

  • Corkage Fee: $10
  • Hours: 11.30pm – 2.30pm & 5.30 pm – 10pm
  • Address: 11 Joo Chiat Place, #01-03 Singapore 427744
  • Tel: 6275 1002
  • Visit website
Guan Hoe Soon

Rich in history, Guan Hoe Soon is Singapore’s oldest peranakan restaurant since 1953. Guan Hoe Soon was also reportedly the take-out choice for the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. 

  • Corkage Fee: Free corkage on weekdays/ weekends after 7:30pm
  • Hours: 11am – 3pm & 6pm – 9.30pm
  • Address: 38/40 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427762
  • Tel: 6344 2761
  • Visit website
Long Phung Vietnamese Restaurant

Long Phung is one of the most popular Vietnamese eateries, a hidden gem along Joo Chiat road. Have fun pairing wines with their popular dishes such as Pho Tai (Beef Noodles) & Goi Cuon (Vietnamese Spring Roll).

  • Corkage Fee: $10
  • Hours: 12pm – 10pm
  • Address: 159 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427436
  • Tel: 6440 6959
  • Visit website
Ubin Kitchen

Along the same street as Merchants, Ubin Kitchen serves a wide variety of Chinese home-style ala-carte dishes just like your typical ‘tze char’ restaurant.

  • Corkage Fee: $10
  • Hours: 11.30pm – 2.30pm & 6pm – 11pm
  • Address: 357 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427602
  • Tel: 6348 2202
  • Visit Facebook page
Tomi Sushi

Delectable selection with a wide array of Japanese dishes, Tomi Sushi serves not just only ‘sushi’, but genuine Niigata cuisine.

  • Corkage Fee: $30 (for 750ml)
  • Hours: 11.30pm – 3pm & 5.30pm – 10pm
  • Address: 30 East Coast Road, #02-14/15/16 Katong V Singapore 428751
  • Tel: 6348 7897
  • Visit website
Saigon Teppanyaki & Bar

True to their name, Saigon Teppanyaki serves Vietnamese cuisine with a teppanyaki twist. Try to get seating next to the bar where the Chef would prepare the food in front of your eyes.

  • Corkage Fee: $10
  • Hours: 11.30pm – 3.30pm & 5.30pm – 10.30pm, Closed on Mondays
  • Address: 95 East Coast Road, Singapore 428793
  • Tel: 6348 2816
  • Visit Facebook page
Sin Hoi Sai

Another Tze Char stall along East Coast Road, the good news is that Sin Hoi Sai offers free corkage, cheers!

  • Corkage Fee: Free Corkage
  • Hours: 5pm till late
  • Address: 187 East Coast Road, Singapore 428893
  • Tel: 6440 6956
5 Star Hainanese Chicken Rice

Well known for their Kampung Chicken, 5 Star Hainanese Chicken Rice is also another place that offers free corkage.

  • Corkage Fee: Free Corkage
  • Hours: 9am – 3am
  • Address: 191/193 East Coast Road, Singapore 428897
  • Tel: 6344 5911
  • Visit website

What better way to spend the evening having some seafood pairing with a glass of your favourite wine? Long Beach Seafood and Jumbo Seafood allows BYO at a small fee as well.

Long Beach Seafood
  • Corkage Fee: $20
  • Hours: Mon to Thurs 2.30pm – 12:15am | Fri 1.30 – 12.15am | Sat/ Eve of PH 11.30am – 1.15am | Sun & PH 11.30am – 12.15am
  • Address: #01-04 East Coast Seafood Centre, Singapore 449881
  • Tel: 6448 3636
  • Visit website
Jumbo Seafood
  • Corkage Fee: 1st bottle: $30, 2nd: $15, 3rd & more: $10
  • Hours: Mon to Fri 5pm – 11.45pm | Sat, Sun & PH 11.30am – 12am
  • Address: #01-07/08 East Coast Seafood Centre, Singapore 449883
  • Tel: 6442 3435
  • Visit website
Ju Shin Jung Korean Restaurant

Craving for Korean BBQ? Ju Shin Jung allows BYO at affordable corkage fee of $15.

  • Corkage Fee: $15
  • Hours: Weekdays 12pm – 4pm & 6pm – 11pm | Weekends 12pm – 11pm
  • Address: 1018 East Coast Park Service Road, #02-01 Singapore 449877
  • Tel: 6447 9279
  • Visit website


Do take note that corkage fee prices might exclude GST and service charge (varies from restaurant to restaurant).
We have made every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information for you. However, as information is subjected to changes, Merchants will not be liable for any of these changes.

Chocolate and wine – a most romantic Valentine’s Day at Merchants Wine Store

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A selection of chocolates from Leela’s Fine Chocolate range

To celebrate Valentine’s Day at our East Coast branch of Merchants this year we hosted a wine and chocolate pairing workshop with Leela Titus from Leela’s Fine Chocolates (read more about Leela here). It was a great opportunity to bring together some of our artisanal wines with a selection of hand crafted chocolates, and the results were very interesting (and tasty!).

The similarities between chocolate and wine are striking. Both require specific climates to grow the key ingredients (e.g. grapes and cocoa beans) successfully, and the flavours in the final product are heavily influenced by the region that they are grown in. Also neither are naturally occurring products – both require human intervention to make the final product – and for both the skills to create the finest wines and chocolates have taken centuries to perfect!

For the chemistry-geek, there is a whole raft of flavour, aroma and tannin compounds that are shared between the two, and there is ongoing research into the health benefits of many of these compounds in both wine and chocolate. Whatever your favourite wine or chocolate, both lend themselves to a range of styles – think subtle white chocolate all the way through to high cocoa bitter dark chocolate, and light crisp white wines through to rich reds and warming fortified wines.

One final similarity is that today we take intensely flavoured food and drink like chocolate and wine for granted, often eating or drinking without a second thought. And this is where we miss the real pleasure and true enjoyment of these complex, fascinating indulgences. Sitting down for a couple of hours to taste wine and chocolate is not only a great way to spend an afternoon, but also an opportunity to take some time to really savour the flavours of both, to unwind and enjoy without rushing. A single square of really good chocolate, or a sip of a wine that has been lovingly made can transport you to other parts of the world, or to other times of your life. The simple pleasure of letting flavours linger on your tongue and letting your mind wander is one many of us have forgotten about, so its great to reconnect with our inner self.

Returning to our event with Leela, and one of the highlights was to try some unusual flavour combinations in the chocolates themselves. Leela explained how she is inspired by fresh flavours, and recently she has created a dark chocolate with fresh basil, as well as a rosemary and olive oil chocolate. These were a revelation as the savoury notes from the basil and rosemary highlight a very different spectrum of flavours in the chocolate itself. The final chocolate of the line-up was the most anticipated of the afternoon – a dark chocolate shell filled with crispy bacon bits and gooey salt caramel. If you are wondering, it really was as amazing as it sounds! The smoky bacon flavours really lifted the dark chocolate, and the sweet salty combination of bacon, caramel and chocolate just kept evolving on the tongue after tasting.

Pairing wines with chocolate can be difficult though. The sweetness in many chocolates can make wines look sour or bitter, and the bitterness in some dark chocolates can make fuller bodied red wines look even more bitter as well. So how best to enjoy two of our favourite foods together? The key is to look for sweeter styles of wines which can match the sweetness of the chocolate, or offset any bitterness in the chocolate. Finally, for those not fortunate enough to join us for the tasting, the table below shows our favourite pairings (click on the wines to order from the Merchants online store).

Chocolate Wine
White chocolate, Dulcey chocolate Kies Family Wines Sparkling Heysen Gold, Leura Park Estate ‘Ms Flamingo and Associates’
Rosemary & Olive Oil truffle, Basil truffle Monbulk Winery Sparkling Strawberry wine, Towerhill Estate Late Harvest Riesling
Dark chocolate, Bacon and Salt Caramel truffle Olive Farm Autumn Cabernet


Merchants is a collective of small, independent and artisanal winemakers from Australia and New Zealand.

Festive Food and Wine matching with Merchants

Well another year has flown by, and as the silly season approaches people often ask us at Merchants which wines we’ll be pouring over the festive period. We’ve put together a list of our favourite Christmas tipples with all the fixings from a classic Australian Christmas meal.

To start – bubbles are the universal way to bring people together at any event, and Christmas is no different. We love the Leura Park Estate Vintage Grande Sparkling Blanc de Blanc – its 100% Chardonnay and has a touch of rich ripe fruit and silky smooth bubbles that makes it a real crowd pleaser, especially if it’s the first wine of the day!

Entrée – for a land ‘girt by sea’ it’s no surprise that seafood is always popular around Christmas time in Australia. We love an entrée of fresh Coffin Bay oysters, with just a touch of lime juice – they have a delicious briney smell of the sea – and are perfect with a crisp dry Riesling. The Sorby Adams Jellicoe Riesling from Eden Valley in South Australia is a great example of the variety, and complements the delicate oyster flavours without overpowering them.

Main course – a glazed ham or roast turkey (or sometimes even both!) are popular choices for the centrepiece of an Australian Christmas, and both work well with a range of wines as they are flavourful but not too dominant. To avoid the usual argument about serving red or white wines with lighter meat dishes, we have gone for one of each! A fuller bodied white wine like the Fermoy Estate Chardonnay from Margaret River will hold up really well against the flavour of the ham or turkey, while offering some refreshing crispness. For red wine drinkers, try the Myattsfield Cabernet Sauvignon/Petit Verdot/Merlot blend. Cabernet Sauvignon blends like this are great with food as they have lots of structure and character, and any ‘grippiness’ in the wine will be held in check by the food – which really allows the lovely layers of fruit flavours to shine.

Dessert – matching wines with desserts can be problematic as the sweetness in the dessert can make wines look bitter or hard. The trick is to look for sweeter wines which can balance the sweetness in the dessert. Try a sparkling red – it’s a unique Australian style of wine (typically made from Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon) – and made in the same way as sparkling white wines but often with a touch of sweetness as well as some savoury notes. This makes it very versatile with foods, particularly with sweeter dishes. So we’d recommend the Gartelmann Sparkling Shiraz with our pavlova – it’s a popular Christmas dessert that’s like a slice of summer on the plate, and the red berry fruits just burst from the wine glass! And for the traditionalists, the Gartelmann is also a delicious match with a rich fruit Christmas pudding.

So there you have it – a great selection of wines for a very special occasion. Merchants has a beautiful Festive Menu on offer this year so you can relax and let someone else do the work! All that remains is for everyone here at Merchants to wish you all a safe and merry Christmas!

Wine and Chocolate Valentine’s Day Workshop

Blindfolds, chocolate, wine, wine, wine, more chocolate, oh and did we mention the edible stilettos…?
..things got a little tasty at our Valentine’s Day Wine and Chocolate workshop!!

Lovely Leela of Leela’s Fine Chocolates was our guide on this amorous exploration of 2 of our Greatest Loves of All.  Just like love – the relationship between wine and chocolate can be arduous ardour! There can be clashes, sometimes opposites attract..but occasionally you stumble upon a perfect, passionate match!


Leela’s delectable handmade chocolates melted in our mouths: White chocolate, Dulce, Chai with flecks of gold, a spicy Chilli chocolate, a dark chocolate with Murray River Rock Salt and the most delicious milk chocolate we’ve ever tasted.

We paired Leela’s chocolates with a fascinating array of Merchants wines – Cosham Sparkling Pinot Noir, Ms Flamingo, Sparkling Strawberry Wine from Dandenong, a Bunnamagoo Autumn Semillon (the hot favourite), a Kies Deer Stalker Merlot and our visiting winery’s Fuddling Cup Cabernet Sauvignon 2008.

The key to wine and chocolate pairing is simple – match the sweetness of the wine to the sweetness of the chocolate – and the sweetness of the company if it’s Valentine’s Day! As with most things in life (and love) you’re searching for balance. Chocolate is a cheeky dominatrix – with intense flavours of sweetness, fruit, acid coating your palate. So we recommend tasting the wine first, and then nibbling your chocolate, then taking another sip of wine, and so on… Start at the lighter end of the spectrum for both chocolate and wine, e.g. white chocolate and champagne – then work your way towards the darker shades..

Speaking of shades, things got a little heated when we asked our guests ‘how well do you know your partner?’, and with blindfolds donned there was some energetic and frantic experimentation with wine and chocolate combos.


Some mentioned it was a little (ahem) ’50 Shades..’ though we think 50 Shades of Gris would be more appropriate – perhaps we’ll save that for our next event!


Olive Farm Wines visits Singapore for Wine Tasting

In August this year, 2 young winemakers from Olive Farm Wines in Swan Valley came to this little red dot to share their stories and their wines for tasting.

From private corporate event to wine tasting at Merchants Wine Cellar in Duxton and PasarBella, check out what Anthony Yurisich, 4th generation owner and winemaker of Olive Farm Wines, and Shaun Luetich, winemaker thought of Singapore!

Bass River Wine Dinner

Frank Butera from Bass River in Gippsland arrived in Singapore with suitcases stuffed full of Italian, family produce for our dining pleasure! We enjoyed fabulous authentic homemade salami, olives, olive oil, Gippsland cheeses along with Chef Edward’s culinary creations and all paired with Bass River bubbles, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Limoncello, Grappa and Iced Riesling!

We made some wonderful new friends as well including Christian Schiller and his lovely wife Annette, who posted a charming blog piece on the Bass River Wine Dinner here: