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
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to get in...

Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before