Have you ever wondered what penguins and wine have in common? Join Chris Milliken, CEO of PengWine and Elspeth Shek, Field Marketing & Events Manager APAC to discover more about the prestigious wines from the Maipo Valley of Chile, and how PengWine uses exciting technology releases that will completely transform the way you enjoy wine.
This live session will explore the use of technology in the winemaking business, cover trends and observations during COVID-19, as well as go over some fun recommendations for these interesting times we live in.
Thank you for joining our fourth episode of Zoomer Year hosted by Cloudflare, a leading security, performance and reliability company on a mission to help build a better Internet.
What do penguins and wine have in common? Let's find out. Today we welcome Chris Milliken, CEO of Pink Wine, to explore how penguins, wine and technology come together.
Welcome Chris. Can you share a little bit more about your background and how did the idea of Pink Wine come about?
Thank you, Els. It's a pleasure to be here today.
Hello everybody. Penguin. Okay, so first a little bit about myself.
I am from the United States. I traveled the world as a chef.
I worked in hotels, restaurants, did a lot of private chef work as well, cooked for some fascinating people, met amazing people around the world.
And after chefing for many years, I am following a girl around the world as well, ended up in South America, in Chile.
A little info though, she's now my wife and we have two beautiful kids.
Risk and reward.
And then in the late 1990s, when we moved to Chile, still dating, my wife's mother's cousin's college roommate's brother was the first Chilean that I had the pleasure of meeting.
And we went to his house for a barbecue and it was fantastic.
And as a chef, I'd always been into wine, but not heavily into wine.
I knew about it, that sort of thing. But when I met with him and he had a Sauvignon Blanc, that just was just a wow factor to me.
And his passion for wine rubbed off on me immediately.
That's my partner, Max. We've been in business together for 15 years now.
And so that's where the wine connection started to happen.
And then Max and I decided, okay, we're going to get into the wine business.
A few years later, we ended up looking at finding a vineyard that had amazing grapes and they were producing grape juice and some wine, but they weren't taking a bottled product to market.
And we went to them and said, hey, can we bring in our own barrels and make our own wine?
They said, sure. We didn't have a name.
We didn't have a name for our wine. We didn't, we just knew we wanted to make wine and we wanted to make really good wine.
Wine that we would want to drink.
And Max loved penguins. And he shared with me that he had this dream of one day having a wine label and a penguin on the label.
I thought that sounded pretty cool.
But we still didn't have a name for our wine and we had played with some ideas with penguins.
And I was back in the United States visiting my family and I was sitting with my mother in a coffee shop.
And this is the first place where I had a job as a cook when I was 16 years old, reminiscing and telling my mother about my endeavor going into the wine business.
And just then wrote down on a napkin, the concept of penguin wine, playing with the word penguin in wine.
And just then while I was still sitting at the cafe, Max calls me and he says, are you sitting down?
Yep. He said, I have the name of our wine. I was like, oh, I have the name of our wine.
I'm looking at the napkin. And he said, his daughter Alejandra came up with the word penguin.
What do I think of it? Done. Absolutely. No more discussion.
Penguin is the name of our wine. I knew nothing about penguins at the time, but after doing some more research, found out that 14 of the 17 penguins live along the coast of South America.
And each of them seem to have their own personality.
So we decided to name each of our wines after a different penguin, kind of based on the personality of the wine and the personality of the penguin.
That's a really good story.
Like everything came into the picture, like all the stars are aligned and that's how you have like penguins on your labels, which are really interesting.
And I think you're probably one of the, or one, the only wine seller that has penguins on your labels.
So it's pretty good. I thought it was really cute when I found out about the story.
So I do know that you have a portfolio of wines.
Could you share more about the type of wines that you produce and distribute?
Sure. So here in Singapore, I do have a company that imports our own products from Chile and then redistributes throughout Southeast Asia.
On occasion, we shift back and forth between different labels. We don't make every blend all the time.
As a chef, I like to make wines that really have a lot of character to them.
And Max and I have always believed that in order to create that depth of character, you need to blend different grape varietals.
So for example, what I'm drinking right now is called the Humble.
And this is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
This is our 2009 vintage. This was an 11-year-old wine.
This isn't a wine that you just put on top of the refrigerator and drink it tomorrow night.
This is a wine that we pre -sell and we really allow it to evolve in the bottle so that when you open it, it's nice and smooth, ready to be consumed.
Then we have, as you can tell, we love play on words.
We have this wine and this is called the Gala.
And the Gala is a Cabernet Sauvignon. We also have a wine called the Pagos, which looks quite similar, and that's a Sauvignon Blanc.
And you put them together and you get Galapagos, named after the Galapagos penguin.
In order to get the penguin. Exactly. A good marketing tactic. Perfect wedding wine.
So you have Pagos, concept of being paid, Gala, Festival, and you put the red and the white together.
And that's just, again, the fun play on words that we like to do.
And then we also have a Rockhopper, a Chinstrap. The Chinstrap is our sparkling wine.
And as the penguins get bigger, so do our wines. The King, Royal, and Emperor would be our three most premium wines.
Again, all of them are blends and one of them is the most unique blend in the world, which is called the King.
And that's a blend of Carmonaire and Malbec, which nobody else in the world can produce a steak.
Oh, I should try that. I love Malbecs. I promise you it's very, very nice.
In fact, it won one of the best wines from the Tower Club here in Singapore.
Best wines in Singapore. Awesome. So Cloudflare, Zummelier is all about how technology and wine come together.
And I know we had a really exciting press release last week.
Could you share more with our viewers? What can you look forward to if they were to buy your wine?
So this has been a dream of mine to be able to connect consumers digitally with me, with Max, with the product.
So many winemakers out there pour their hearts and passion into making a product.
But do they really know who's drinking their wine, when and where? So that combined with making wine drinking very fun.
I have a passion for music. I'm not musically inclined.
I wish I was, but I love surrounding myself with good music. We do a lot of sponsorship of different live concerts and events.
And we partnered up with a company called Omniaz and their platform called DRNK, drink, let's drink, to give us a platform that allows us to create an AR experience.
And they're working so fast.
They're definitely working at the speed of tech. Every week they come up with something completely different.
Like this is where we just leaped over the last three ideas and just went right for the fourth idea.
But the ability to scan any bottle of alcohol, it could be whiskey, it could be beer, but of course for us we're focused on wine.
When you scan a bottle of our wine, you have an AR experience.
So you have an augmented reality experience to engage with the flavor profiles, the smells, the location.
But then we took it a step further. And each of our bottles we attached a musical instrument.
So the penguin comes out, plays a different instrument, and has a little groove and tells you a little bit about our wine.
And then we took it even a step further to make it even more fun, get the band together.
So when you scan a few bottles, three times, you actually get the different instruments to come together and play for you a special jam that we've created just for penguin.
And we've always had a motto of have fun. And that's what something that I am so excited about.
This literally just came out this week. So if you get a chance, definitely something you guys want to play with.
Yeah, that sounds really fun.
And what I've done today, actually, I've downloaded the app after reading your press release, and I really wanted to try it out right now.
So what I have here with me is the first bottle.
What I know is we have to scan three bottles according to the instructions.
So I'm going to scan the second bottle here and try it out and show the audience live.
Here we go. Scan it. Give me a second. He has to look at the label.
And I'm going to share if I can see.
Focus on the bottle. I think you have to keep the bottle in view so it knows that you're still there.
Right, let's do it. Oh my god.
Let me just try to show the penguin. Penguin, can you see the penguin? Here you go, the penguin.
That's awesome. And do I have to scan the third bottle to get the band together?
Once I finish up, you scan again and that should bring the band together and you'll get to have the experience of the whole band coming together.
All right. And is there music?
I have a band. Can you see it? I can see it. You should start playing.
I think because the chinstrap didn't play all the way through, it didn't register.
All right, but this is really fun. I'm gonna. It's fun. And it's fun. You can do it in the restaurant.
You can do it at home, of course, and have a good time with it.
And when you get the band together, when you get the band together, you'll automatically be registered to win prizes from Penguin.
And every week we'll draw a lucky name for prizes.
So good luck. Oh, thank you. Awesome. I'm gonna try it out.
So it's been really cute. It's the first time I see like penguins appearing on the wine label.
And I thought that was really fun. So it sounds like you're a pioneer, you know, in wine and technology.
Could you share me like how the whole idea of incorporating technology and wine come about?
You know, it's wine is seen as a very traditional industry, right?
It's there's the romance of the barrel sitting in the cellar.
You know, this wine is 50 years old, 10 years old, whatever it is.
And that has changed quite a bit just in the last few years, especially from a wine production process.
They can do so many studies and tests on the grapes to know what kind of flavor profiles will eventually get, you know, sugar content, etc.
To using drones to plant grapes, getting the exact location of a vineyard, and then making sure that which plants are surviving best in the vineyard by flying a drone over them.
And it registers and knows which which vines are thriving, which vines are producing vines that don't produce and get pulled.
So in those ways, technology is definitely changing.
For me, and the back to the connection with the consumer, what I want to be able to do is know in the moment that somebody is enjoying our wine in a restaurant, for example.
And if I know, or all of a sudden, I get a pop up that on my phone that says, somebody just had their third bottle of penguin in a restaurant.
And if I have the possibility of getting to the waiter and saying, what's going on?
Why, you know, what's why is this taking place?
And he says, lets me know via the app, because they've just scanned it. They're celebrating an anniversary.
How impactful and how cool would it be if I could send over a bottle of wine free from the winemaker on the house, like celebrating with them sharing that moment and creating a connection that I would have never known about that would would have been impossible for me to know.
And I can do this from anywhere in the world and create the harmony and also just the experience of sharing something, sharing a moment.
And that's what for me, wine has always been about.
Wine is about that ability to connect with other people and share moments.
And if we can do that live while people are appreciating our wine, I just think that takes everything to the next level.
And I think that that is the future.
That time will come. And I think with the help of the drink app, we will we will get there and hopefully even sooner than I could have anticipated.
That's really awesome.
I'm looking forward to celebrate any special occasions with pink wine and see you in person, you know, with the surprise bottle.
So, what are the challenges or the joys of being a winemaker?
Because, you know, like being a winemaker in my point of view is really glamorous and all you do is to get to drink your own wine all day.
But definitely there's another side that people do not know about and would love to hear from you.
That is true. And to be honest with you, I thought the same thing probably as I was getting into this, like, oh, how hard can it be?
You make the wine, you let it sit there and you go out and drink all day.
There is that. But it's also challenging to be drinking all day and still be productive, of course.
There are times where I wish that wine didn't have any alcohol in it that would help me completely be more productive.
But pacing is very important.
Always drink responsibly. But we have fun. And I think that in our team, being able to be relaxed but focused, I think at least the way we work and I think about a lot of people in this business work, you can't, you have to be serious, but you can't be too stringent.
You need to be open-minded, you need to be flexible.
You need to really work with people. And that also presents its own challenges in the sense that, you know, we're working across different time zones, so we have to be available at different times.
And educating people is another challenge.
How many people know about the wine regions from Chile and how unique and special the wine regions in Chile really are?
I mean, scientifically, they are amazing.
The Chihuahua, which is the concept of the land, the earth, the soil, and then the weather and the climate, the growing season.
How many days of sunlight do you have?
What's the average temperature? And Chile is just amazing for that.
So we're fortunate that in where a lot of countries will force or have more challenges because of inconsistency of weather patterns.
Not to say that we don't have them.
Global warming is a real factor right now. But also that said, I feel that the consistency of Chile is renowned.
And so that's one element we can semi-remove from the threats or challenges that we have.
But then the, you know, the vision of maybe Chilean wines are perceived as cheap or inexpensive because they've entered the markets that way.
And there's a very logical reason for why that value proposition is there, is that the soil content of Chile is so intense that we can produce so much fruit in the same amount of surface area as many other wine producing countries.
And that for us is something that we need to educate people about, that the intensity of fruit, vegetables, everything that comes out of the ground in Chile is, in my mind, mind -blowing.
You could have celery that's a meter long, broccoli that's this big, corn and carrots as big as my forearm.
As a chef, I absolutely went crazy over this stuff.
But you can imagine the grapes and the bunches of grapes that we can produce per vine is almost double what you could get out of a yield from other places.
So the education piece can be challenging where people just say, you know, oh, but you're a wine from Chile, you should be cheap.
We still put a lot of love and effort into making the wines that we make.
And as you're drinking, and I'm drinking right now, this wine that we're drinking is 11 years old.
How many people know that you can do that?
But then when you do, and you have the experience, that's where we want to create the connection where people really recognize the brand and the wine for the level of quality that we can deliver.
That's awesome. So it's my first time drinking Peng wine, to be completely honest, and I thought it was really smooth and really pleasant for an afternoon like today, really hot.
And I did resist the urge to not drink from the morning so that we had a ball here and you know, try it out now when I'm talking to you.
And I think it was worth the wait. And thanks for sharing.
I can't wait to check out like the big broccolis that are bigger than my head or corn that are longer than my arm.
I get really tickled with things like that.
So I can't wait to travel to Chile and see your vineyard. Thank you so much.
You need to get down there. Yes, I have to. When the whole COVID situation is over, I can't wait to fly out.
So thanks for sharing. And I think you as a wine distributor in Singapore, could you share with us what are the interesting trends and observations you have noticed during COVID?
I'm sure a lot of people will have things like, hey, you know, alcohol sales have gone up.
Is it what you're experiencing?
Yes and no, depending on what metrics you use to measure. I have found and what I can see within the market is that people who drink probably drank a little bit more than they normally would at home.
That's not to say they were actually drinking more than they normally would say in a week.
They were just drinking more at home, which means that they were ordering wine online or alcohol online or going to the store and purchasing it from the supermarket.
So in that sense, wine consumption especially did go up.
But as a whole in the country of other countries as well, alcohol consumption actually went down just a little bit.
There's a couple of reasons for that. People who are social drinkers, so they would go out to dinner and then they would have a glass of wine or they have a cocktail.
If they were social drinkers, they weren't doing that at home. They didn't feel the need to have a glass of wine or a cocktail when they're eating at home.
And then when they were ordering from Food Panda or Grab, they weren't ordering cocktails with that.
So then you also have duty-free shops weren't selling as much because nobody was traveling.
Cruise lines weren't offering anything because nobody was on cruises.
So globally, alcohol consumption actually went down.
And also because countries like Thailand, Philippines, you couldn't buy alcohol, period.
And even to sell online and order online, you had to go register personally with a government agency to get permission to buy and have wine delivered to your house.
And even that took a couple months before that process was implemented.
So globally, alcohol consumption went down. Unless you were a consumer of alcohol, then you and your friends probably were all hanging out and chatting.
And like me, it's something that if it's in your blood, it's still in your blood.
And it's something that you want to do. But I also think that overall, the industry here in Singapore, I've been in Singapore now for going on 13 years.
And when I first arrived, the industry has changed so much.
I have found that the appreciation for wine and the understanding for different regions around the world has certainly excelled.
Where there were a few sommeliers 13 years ago, now you have the Singapore Sommelier Association.
They do a really good job of educating not only the sommeliers, but the sommeliers are very passionate.
I don't think that there are a lot of countries that are really doing what Singapore is doing on that front.
When you go into a restaurant and the sommelier is wearing a couple of different pins to show their appreciation and their level of accreditation.
That just didn't exist before. And it doesn't exist in a lot of countries anymore, it seems.
You have your food and beverage manager who takes over the wine list.
And I think that the concept of a good sommelier is excellent here in Singapore.
I've sat in on a couple of the competitions that they do here. And it's impressive.
These guys know what they're doing. They study really hard, they take it very serious.
And I don't know that I would want to go through some of that testing and some of the contests that they do.
Everything down from, you know, if they have a bottle of champagne and they need to pour seven pours from it, they have to get all seven pours exactly right on the go.
They can't go back and top up glasses.
And they know their regions, they know their grape varieties. And I think that's just a great thing to see Singapore promoting and preserving the sommelier aspect.
Exactly. And I'm so glad I'm in Singapore and know friends that sells alcohol like yourself to make sure I have a steady supply during COVID.
Thank you so much.
In the interest of time, let's do something fun, you know, something as fun as a wine.
So will you give us some interesting recommendations for the times that we are in?
For example, if I am working right now, I'm having a conference call, but I still want to have wine.
So what if I'm in a situation when I'm business on the top and party at the bottom, what would you recommend?
Is it a business call that you're allowed to be drinking in?
So I don't want it to be obvious, but I would love to drink.
The guy takes the tea bag and rips the cord off of it and ties it around the end of his handle, and then fills his coffee mug with wine and then, you know, looks like he's drinking tea.
I certainly think that you don't want to have the ice bucket right next to you.
It makes too much noise.
So make sure that it's nicely chilled before you bring it over to the table.
And I think that a sparkling wine is also something that you don't want to be drinking because the effervescence could catch you off guard if somebody calls you out or you have to be talking.
So stick with a still wine. That would be my recommendation.
And probably stick with a white wine because a white wine, you can always say, oh, that was water.
Probably wouldn't have a chance to contradict, but a red wine is pretty obvious.
And it's also, you don't want to be spilling red wine all over your desk.
Lots of good tips. Thank you. So what about a situation where I have made it in life, like I've earned all the money I need to be, I don't need to worry about my life anymore.
Is there any wine that you would recommend if I'm in that situation?
So yeah, when you're in that situation, call me. That's number one.
And we'll go out together and I'll point them, make sure I give you a hands on service.
But one piece of advice that a lot of people ask just from generally, how much wine, how much I spend on a bottle of wine, let's take out the equation of you just won the lottery or money is no object.
Drink what you can, pay what you can appreciate, because you'll work your way through the process.
Enjoying wine is a journey.
It's certainly not a destination because the destination never ends.
There's so many different grape varieties, regions, vintages to explore.
But you need to build on a foundation of appreciation. To know the difference before you just go and say, okay, I'm going to buy a three $4,000 bottle of wine.
What effect does that have if you haven't experienced what a $50 bottle of wine or a $200 bottle of wine, can you really tell the difference?
It certainly takes practice.
And practice is the fun part. Practice is the part that you can get into, you can try a different, you can try recently Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Chardonnay, and then say, okay, I went from sweet whites to dry whites, and now I want to go into reds.
And then you get into your light reds, your pinots, and then you move into maybe a Pinotage, Merlots, Shiraz, my goodness, and you get into different regions.
So, and this is also where sommeliers are a beautiful thing.
They help to keep the market pretty regulated so that when you go into a bottle shop, before they ask you how much, before they ask you what kind of wine do you want, they will ask you how much do you want to spend.
And there's a reason for that.
If you want to spend $20, they'll take you to that section and then decide what kind of wine you should have.
If you want to spend $100, same. Because there is wine for everybody at every price point.
And if you're saying that you want to spend $500 on a bottle of wine, the wine consultant will take into a, will automatically assume you know what it is that you want or you're quite familiar with wine.
So if you go into a bottle shop and you're asking for that, but it's for your boss and you don't actually drink the wine, you may want to let them know that this is for your boss and that this is a reflection on you versus something that you're going to take home and consume yourself.
That's also, that's pretty important.
But if money were no object, I would probably say let's go back in time and try some really old vintages so that you can appreciate the effort that somebody 50 years ago, 80 years ago, was walking through the vineyard tasting the grapes.
This is the romance of it. Tasting the grapes, producing something that they valued and enjoyed.
And now here we are so many years later, swirling and sipping and appreciating what somebody else's, somebody else's work of art, if you will.
And I think again, if money were no object, collecting those types of wines would be a lot of fun.
Sounds good. Maybe I should start now and then 10 or 20 years later, I can sell them for a profit.
Yeah. Maybe some pink wines too, you know.
There you go. Look me up in 20 years. Yeah. Thanks so much for sharing all your tips today.
They have been really interesting and informative.
I learned something new. So let's say our viewers, if they want to have a taste of pink wine, they want to try it out.
Where should we go? Glad you asked that because I just wrote it down on a piece of paper here while I was talking.
We just launched a new website here in Singapore and it's called Amigos y Vinos.
And that stands for friends and wines.
I'm going to hold this up so you can see it. Yeah.
Amigosyvinos.com. So the stands for and in Spanish. And if you use this code Cloudflare with your purchase, you will get a free copy of my book called White or Red, It's All in Your Head.
And right now, if you go to this website, we already have some specials on penguin because we want to entice you to get it, bring it home and play with the app and get the band together.
Yeah. And for those who are watching, I tried it out.
I tried the entire experience. So you get your wine in a really nice bottle and then you get a free t-shirt, which I wasn't expecting.
My first penguin t-shirt. You get some instructions on how to play with the app and then check out the penguin band.
And I do have the book too. You can learn something about wine, which is really good.
So thank you so much, Chris, for your time today.
It's been really interesting.