My Wine Class Experience with Sommelier Roderick Wong

I was so delighted to have been given the opportunity to attend Mr Roderick Wong’s class at Starhill Culinary Studio yesterday, 10th August 2013. It was a lovely Saturday afternoon, just a day after the 2nd Raya holiday. I parked at Pavilion KL which was busy with streams of families celebrating a great weekend then walked happily across to Starhill Gallery where Starhill Culinary Studio’s wine studio was about to engulf my senses with the aromas and taste of wines. 

Themed Bubbles of the World, the class was about understanding and exploring different sparkling wines from around the world, how a sparkling wine is made, and other interesting information about this specific type of wine. 

Bubbles of the World wine class by Roderick Wong
Roderick gave us this handout which I really appreciated because it contains a lot of useful information to understand the class and the sparkling wines more.

5 different sparkling wines  Prosecco, Sekt, Cava, Champagne, Sparkling Shiraz Cabernet

Roderick Wong started the class with a detailed explanation about the Champagne method of producing sparkling wines. It involves a long process with a lot of steps: harvesting, destalking, separation of juice, fermentation, blending (assemblage/ coupage), second fermentation, ageing, riddling, disgorgement, dosage, recording and wiring. Roderick said this is already a simplified version of the process so we can easily understand. OMG, so the actual process is even more complicated than this? Seriously, kudos to those winemakers!

Roderick also shared that a lot of people often mistake Champagne for other sparkling wines and are unaware that sparkling wines are not the same as sparkling juice. Champagnes are only produced in the Champagne region of France and are governed by very strict rules to be allowed to put ‘Champagne’ on their label. No other region or country is allowed to use the put ‘Champagne’. But due to the extreme popularity of Champagne as probably the best sparkling wine, some people assumed that any sparkling wine is called Champagne. 

Some people also thought that when somebody says sparkling wine, it is the same as the ordinary sparkling juice available at the supermarket. The truth is there are a lot of other great sparkling wines from other countries and regions aside from Champagne in France, such as: Cremant from other regions in France aside Champagne, Spumante from Italy, Cava from Spain, Sekt from Germany, Cap Classique from South Africa and more. 

Roderick also gave us a helpful list of information to what ‘Brut’ and other words mean for wine. 

Opening a champagne or sparkling wine bottle can be tricky so we must be very careful when uncorking one. Here Roderick demonstrates how to uncork a bottle without letting the cork fly or pop loudly. It takes an expert skill, I believe, and I wouldn’t dare to open one! Apparently, most of the accidents in restaurants/ bar come from flying corks!

Roderick Wong uncorking a Champagne bottle
We started with a Laurent-Perrier Champagne (yum). It’s wonderful to see it bubbling on the glass. 

Pouring Champagne

Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles. I had to catch a photo before all the bubbles disappear!

Champagne and its bubbles on my wine glass

Here I was, tasting the precious bubbly from Champagne…

And here’s my good friend, Jen, sniffing a Cava (sparkling wine from Spain), the 2nd wine for the class.

Pouring the 3rd sparkling wine – Sekt from Germany…

And probably the most interesting one I saw and tried was a sparkling red wine – Shiraz Cabernet from Australia…

All the 5 sparkling wines from around the world: Champagne, Cava, Spumante, Sekt, and Sparkling Red. I personally liked the 3rd wine – Spumante from Italy.

The class wouldn’t be complete without some canapés…

Roderick Wong is a very articulate, knowledgeable and approachable sommelier (wine expert). He answered our questions happily and with some interesting personal stories as well. 

Me with Roderick Wong

Jen and Roderick Wong

Jen and I also met a few hot chicks during the class…

This wine class at Starhill Culinary Studio was truly wonderful and memorable. Not only were we able to sample great sparkling wines but we really learned a lot of useful information about this beverage which is viewed by many as a luxury drink. 

Kudos to Starhill Culinary Studio and to Mr Roderick Wong for hosting such an amazing class. We’ll see you again soon!

For more information about Starhill’s wine classes, visit 

For more info about upcoming events with Mr Roderick Wong, check out their FB page – The Wine Academy Malaysia


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