Phuket Days: When being 'highso' is a question of one's vintage

Phuket - I have been hoping to become a little more "highso" for some time. Not everybody qualifies, but I think I have eased open the door by sitting beside the Andaman Sea on the Thai island of Phuket sipping a 1945 Beaulieu Vineyard Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.

How do you know if you are highso? Having money helps; driving, say, a BMW is another good sign; appearing in gossip magazines clutching a glass and smiling is also good - and drinking wine is definitely a positive indication.

So what is highso? Surely it's obvious: ask a Thai speaker and you will discover it means high society, the correct usage being, for example, "he is so highso" or "I went to a really highso event".

And if it really was a highso event, the chances are that wine would have been served. Wine consumption is increasing by leaps and bounds, which is not bad when you consider that Thailand's most distinctive alcoholic beverage, Mekong Whisky, a closer relative of paint stripper than its Scottish namesake,is anything but subtle on the palate.

Wine may be a fad in Thailand, but it is a fad taken up with some fervour by the middle classes, who are being weaned off expensive French Cognac - at times, I kid you not, mixed with Coca-Cola.

One of Thailand's most enthusiastic wine connoisseurs is ML Tridhosyuth Devakul (known as ML Tri for short), a well-known architect of royal lineage. Like many Thais, he has discovered the sensible art of mixing pleasure with pleasure. One of his pleasures is to escape from the less than fragrant atmosphere of Bangkok to Phuket where he established The Boathouse hotel, or, to be more accurate, established a fabulous restaurant with an award- winning wine cellar, attached to a hotel.

With the sort of climate that demands the serving of red wines in ice- lined buckets to prevent overheating, the hotel's wine cellar is kept under severe air-conditioning, stabilising the red wines at around 17C and the whites a few degrees lower.

It was from this cellar that "The World's Best Cabernet Sauvignon" tasting drew most of its bottles. This was no wimpish event, with wine swirling around the mouth and then expelled into nearby buckets, but a serious, gulp-it-down test of 14 wines - plus another six which accompanied an immodest six-course dinner.

For the record, I didn't think much of the 1945 Beaulieu, an American vintage not really designed for consumption in its fiftieth decade. However the 1992 Saint-Hugo (Orlando) from Coonawarra in Australia, was a knockout and the rightful winner of the blind tasting.

ML Tri is now looking at the possibility of opening a magnum-only wine bar in Bangkok. They like to do things big here: Bangkok has the world's largest restaurant and biggest disco. Why not a big bottle wine bar?

But, I wonder, would it qualify as genuinely highso?

Suggested Topics
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Science Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Science Teachers needed for s...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: QTS Maths Teachers needed for...

English Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: English Teachers with QTS nee...

PMLD Teaching Assistant Required - Nottingham

£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: We are currently looking to ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments