Born in Thonburi, Benjawan Wisootsat began her career working with an international exhibition contractor company in Thailand. Eventually she migrated to open Optimum, an event management company providing turnkey services for MICE events. However, a love of fine wine, and life’s other pleasures, led to the establishment of FIN Wine.
FIN stands for “fabulous is needed”. Why did you choose that name?
In my travels around the world I discovered many fabulous things, and I believe that in future people will be more and more looking for more individuality and exclusivity, rather than the mass supplied items—which is why “fabulous is needed”. FIN was founded in 2003, and even though wines are not intrinsically part of Thai culture, we have FIN Wine as part of our FIN Collection— FIN Event, FIN Decor, FIN Catering, and FIN Deluxe Travel—and bring them to the market as part of a “fabulous” lifestyle.
What do you look for when choosing a wine to distribute?
FIN is all about exclusivity, therefore we carefully select from the small artisanal boutique wineries around the world. I meet the producers, and taste the wines, and choose what I like. My selections are not just about the tasting notes, but also the dishes that come to mind, and the occasions, climate, and seasons when one might drink the wines. I decide which wines best fit into the FIN wine collection, keeping in mind the clientele in Thailand. We dare to bring wines from unusual countries, and grapes which are not familiar to Thais, into Thailand. In this way we’re building up a new culture of wine appreciation for the Thai market, uplifting the wine scene to international levels, in terms of selection.
What do you think of Thailand’s consumer wine scene in general?
Looking back over the 14 years since I started my company, I see that I was something of a pioneer. I had to educate the market, explaining that the wine world is not just red, but also white and rosé, that Austria is not Australia, and that Germany is also famous for wines, not just beer. I see now that the wine scene has grown, and it’s especially developed a lot over the past five years.
Are you a fan of natural, organic and bio-dynamic wines?
I would say I have happily indulged myself with these types of wines, hence our selection revolves around these farming philosophies. And when we started our business, the first collection was mostly organic and bio-dynamic. Today, all our range is natural—sustainable, organic, and/or bio-dynamic—and they are grouped under the umbrella of ‘FIN Naturally’. However, although these wines might be trendy nowadays, it doesn’t mean that all organic, bio-dynamic, or natural wines are good. It’s actually not that easy to do nice natural wines.
Who do you think has the best wine cellar in Bangkok?
I would say that there are many interesting wine lists in BKK nowadays. You can count on wide-ranging, well-curated selections at Mandarin Oriental and L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, while restaurants like Sühring have an extensive wine list to specifically pair with their cuisine (in this case wines from Germanic countries). For something more friendly and comfortably priced, with an interesting variety of both noble and native grapes, there’s Karmakamet diner on Sukhumvit Soi 24 (next to the Emporium).
What are some of your favourite Thai food and wine pairings?
The wine list at Bo.Lan is one to pay attention to, as it is adjusted and changed according to the restaurant’s ever-changing food menus. They aren’t afraid to offer unusual wines to complement their unique Thai dishes. Customers can feel at ease with the friendly and uncomplicated explanations the serving staff give concerning the food and wines, as the restaurant endeavours to create wonderful new dining experiences.
What are some of your personal favourite hangouts in Bangkok?
Bangkok has many things to offer and I would say there is something new all the time to try. Personally, I love to go to the flower market and work on my flower creations at home. I also love going to some authentic old establishment like Yim Yim, the old Chinese restaurant in Yarowat, or make a trip to Above 11 on Sukhumvit Soi 11, or even catch some live music at Saxophone at Victory Monument. Above all, I like to be spontaneous.