HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Family Money

Personal Directions

The Doctor's Consultation by Dr. Iain Corness

Agony Column

Camera Class by Snapshot

Recipes from Rattana

Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums

Perfect Match

Family Money: A two-way street

By Leslie Wright,
Managing director of Westminster Portfolio Services (Thailand) Ltd.

Any strategic investment is only as good as its implementation. The components of a portfolio at the asset class or sector level should be optimally diversified (to reduce risk further), and match the strategic objectives.

The time horizon of the portfolio also needs to be established: how long will this investment remain in place before the target date when the cash will be needed? How accessible is your capital, either for a regular withdrawal (like a pension) or in an emergency? What degree of flexibility is there for rearranging the component funds - perhaps drastically - as market conditions change? Some instruments which sound enticing under bear market conditions cannot be adjusted when equity markets return to favour. For instance, if you’ve bought one of the currently popular “Guaranteed Capital” instruments, you’re typically forced either to hold them till maturity (if the issuing company is still in business by then) or suffer a heavy encashment penalty.

Portfolio characteristics evolve over time, as do markets. For example, the asset allocation can be adjusted if market conditions are favourable and equities start giving higher returns than bonds. But as we have seen this past year, market volatility can quickly change the market mood, and the portfolio constituents can become more or less risky. A risk-management system provides a monitoring and reporting module that identifies portfolios that have drifted from the plan or that may be at increased risk from market events.

The investor also needs to understand that a long-term plan is a long-term plan, not a short-term one. If it was agreed during the fact-finding process that, for whatever reason or purpose, a longer-term plan was the most appropriate to that client’s identified needs and financial objectives, then the client should not be fretting to sell out 18 months or even three years into such a plan, or complaining about early redemption charges if he does so. On a train journey from London to Edinburgh the train may slow down for a while to cross a deep ravine - but you don’t jump off the train: you wait for the train to speed up again and reach its destination. Similarly with long-term strategic investments.

Once a portfolio has been selected, it is important that the client understands the role of the portfolio manager, and what degree of discretion he may exercise over the components of the portfolio. Is he empowered to buy & sell funds as he sees opportunities and danger signals? Or must he consult with the client before each such transaction? The latter ensures the client is informed, but opportunities may be lost while the client considers the action, or wants further detailed information before making a decision.

Many clients forget that they’re not the manager’s only client, and answering emails, conducting research and providing detailed information takes time - and time is money. Most clients never stop to consider how thinly a firm like mine’s very modest portfolio management fee is spread. In terms of time-value, it averages out to 22 minutes work per client per month. Some clients expect far more attention than this, and only a very few appreciate the time and effort that is devoted to their account. Many take it for granted, and some moan when I haven’t made them a profit, despite major markets having dropped an average of about 35% in the first 9 months of the year. If their medium-risk long-term portfolio dropped in value (on paper) by less than, say, 25% in the first 9 months of this year, this may not have made them very happy in absolute terms, but indicates that the risk-management system is doing its job within pre-agreed parameters: it beat the markets by 10%.

Adding value to the Advisor/Client relationship

It is equally important that the portfolio manager understands the needs of the client as regards reporting, meeting, and being available (at least by phone or email) to answer questions and allay fears when bad news appears in the press or on TV.

A risk-management system offers portfolio managers a unique opportunity to enhance the adviser/client relationship. Advisers who take the time and trouble to sit down with clients to discuss and analyse portfolio risk acquire a better knowledge of client needs. In the short term this will ensure their clients receive “best professional advice” and are recommended the investment instrument most appropriate to their needs and objectives, coupled to an appropriate portfolio with which the client will be comfortable at least until the next scheduled review meeting.

In the longer term, clients can have peace of mind knowing that no matter what the markets may be doing at this moment in time, someone is there to look after their best interests, and keep them informed of what is happening.

Most clients value the education that knowledgeable advisers can offer them. Regrettably few financial advisers are willing to spend the time necessary to evaluate and understand the needs of their clients, and educate them on at least the basics of portfolio management. Indeed, few financial advisers are knowledgeable or experienced enough to construct a strategic portfolio, and are rarely trained in this complex aspect of the financial planning process. Any idiot can look up the best performing funds of last year: the trick is to try to predict the best performing funds of next year!

Making sense of the risk landscape is not easy, and advisers who can act as trustworthy and comprehensive guides will always be at a premium.

May you and your family have a Happy & Prosperous New Year!

Personal Directions: What did you do with the year that you had?

By Christina Dodd,
founder and managing director of Incorp Trining Associates

The year is drawing to an end and soon we will be in 2003! It’s always at moments like these that we tend to reflect upon the past events of the year and think to ourselves, where did the year go? And as we look to the future year, we wonder what we achieved in 2002. What have we got to show for it? Why did so many things go wrong? Why didn’t we follow through on this and that to make it work? Why didn’t we try harder? A multitude of questions rush to be answered. For those of us who are slightly more mature in years than others, panic sets in as well as we start to count how much time is left to do all the things we want to do.

Of course there are people who do actually achieve what they set out to achieve and who can feel pleased with themselves at year’s end. But for the most part, most people do not come anywhere close to this. There have been numerous studies and tremendous amounts of research carried out over many decades as to why peoples’ lives are the way they are and why the majority of the population do not achieve their dreams or have a reasonably successful and purposeful life.

Why do people succeed in life and why do people fail? Why do some of us get things done and some of us don’t? What sets those who succeed apart from those who fail? We all want to have meaningful and comfortable lives filled with happiness and achievement so what happens along the way that results in most of us not making it?

There are a some factors to consider that are out of our control and may not put us on an equal footing with others. But if we go beyond this and start to just look at the human element, to look at ourselves first up, then a whole sea of reasons appears and it is difficult to place greater importance on one over another. However, based on my own personal experience and on my training studies and background, there are four reasons that seem to jump up all the time as contributing factors and answers to this question.

For starters, not taking responsibility for our own actions and choices is something that is almost endemic in our behavior. The constant making of excuses or blaming of others for our own failures and things that we caused ourselves is a serious flaw in our nature that can have the most negative affects. It’s the easiest thing in the world to point the finger at someone or something else when something goes wrong. How many times a day do you do this yourself? How many times a day do you hear or see others doing it? From the simplest activity of being late for work to not being able to complete an assignment, we all try to take the easy way out and lay blame elsewhere, avoiding our responsibilities. We go to great lengths to invent excuses rather than having the courage to accept the blame ourselves.

When you find yourself around people who do this to the extreme, then it becomes a very uncomfortable experience and you can see instantly why they don’t get ahead or even why they are so unhappy – they are too busy blaming other people for their own mistakes and decisions.

Secondly, not being true to who you are and pursuing what you want is another contributing factor to failure in our lives. So often we change our minds and give up on our own ideas and plans without real justification because we are easily influenced by others or circumstances. Hold steadfast and do the things you want to do. Chopping and changing just to please others or to suit a certain situation when you really know that you’d rather being doing what you originally set out to do, can create such a dilemma in our minds that if we do it enough, we don’t have any personal loyalty, belief or conviction. This is “discounting” at its worst and is harmful in the way that it can weaken character, as opposed to build and strengthen it.

Then we come to improper behavior and attitude. Doesn’t need much explaining does it? But it actually does when you consider how intimately it can affect every single moment of our lives. Both attitude and behavior are closely linked in that your attitude is reflected in your behavior, and your behavior reflects your attitude. There is no escaping this and it’s just too powerful, so why not adopt a positive approach.

The way we think or view things and people and the way we behave can impact those around us and have far reaching consequences. If we tune in negatively and adopt similar attitudes and behavior, then they are the kinds of results we will get.

And lastly, not having clear goals is perhaps the most critical factor when we talk about success and failure. If you don’t have clear goals, then you have nothing firm to strive for. You have no reason to excel and to reap the rewards life can bring. Goals have to be defined and solid, otherwise they are nebulous - like clouds. Most people don’t have clear goals, if in fact any goals at all and live life everyday without true purpose. They are simply existing and not using their potential to the full. They are living half a life at half speed with half the rewards. It’s like driving a car around and around without knowing where you are meant to be going. If you keep on driving, you eventually run out of petrol and end up nowhere.

All the best for 2003 and stay focused!

For more details about how Incorp can assist you or your staff, please contact me directly by email at christina. [email protected] or call Bangkok tel. (0) 2652 1867-8, fax (0) 2652 1870.

The Doctor's Consultation by Dr. Iain Corness: Insomnia and Counting Sheep

How many sheep did you count last night? If it were more than one thousand you may have a problem. If you do have a problem, then you also have plenty of friends, as the latest reports would suggest that 30% of the population over 40 years old suffers from insomnia, with males slightly more than females.

Medically we tend to split insomnia into two groups - Primary or Secondary. Primary insomnia we say is when you have a problem getting off to sleep, or maintaining sleep, for at least one month. On top of that, the insomnia has to cause clinically significant problems in daily social and occupational functioning.

Secondary insomnia, as the name suggests, comes after other problems such as anxiety or depression, drug use (both prescribed and illicit) or related to other disease states. Sometimes these people do not complain of insomnia, but rather of daytime sleepiness and fatigue.

There are those who believe that insomnia is a self-limiting problem. So what if you have a bad night tonight, you will be so tired tomorrow that you will sleep well and the day after you will be hunky-dory again. However, this is not really the true picture. When talking about real insomnia, with a duration of greater than one month, a very different picture begins to emerge. Insomniacs with symptoms of greater than one year, for example, have 40 times the chance of being depressed. That’s enough to make you depressed and lose sleep over it, on its own! Insomniacs also have more road accidents, go to the doctor more often, take more alcohol and are definitely more sleepy in the daytime, with a decreased mental performance.

So what should you do about this problem. Well, if it is a secondary insomnia, the obvious thing is to do something about the problem causing the insomnia. A general check-up is a good place to start, with specific treatment for primary factors like liver disease, depression and anxiety.

For Primary insomnia there are many behavioural therapies that can be tried. Relaxation therapy, using progressive muscle relaxation techniques, practised for 2-4 weeks can often break the insomnia cycle. Restrict your “bed” time to 6 hours a night only. Do this by prolonging the amount of time you stay up, not by getting up earlier. It may also be necessary to review some irrational fears about insomnia, such as the idea that you “must have 8 hours of sleep every night” which is not correct. This is called ‘cognitive therapy’.

But of course, there are those who still have problems. Now is the time for pharmacological intervention, done under medical supervision. Even in Thailand, with much available over the counter (OTC), hypnotics are not OTC and should only be taken as the last resort.

Finally, here are a few good sleeping hints. No coffee or alcohol just before going to bed. Put aside some time to go over nagging problems before you go to bed. Don’t take your troubles to the bedroom. That includes matrimonial disputes. Don’t sit in bed to watch TV or read books, do that elsewhere - keep the bedroom for sleeping. Your daily exercise should be done in the morning, not at night. Don’t make it a habit to sleep in - set an alarm and get up at the same time every morning.

Agony Column

Dear Hillary,

Here we are at Xmas time again and here we are spending heaps of hard earned cash buying useless Xmas and New Year cards, and sending them off to people who never contact you at any time other than Xmas. Why do we bother carrying on with this charade? Surely people realise by now that they are being conned by the stores. The original idea of Xmas spirit has long gone.


Dear Scrooge,

You really are the milk of human kindness, aren’t you! I wonder why people would even bother to send you a card at Xmas, you are such a misery bag. For the rest of us, Xmas is a time when we can remember friends and acquaintances and just send a quick note to say, “You are not forgotten.” If it is the cash that you object to, then you can always make your own cards or send an email, but I don’t suppose you have a computer and 60 baht in the internet cafe for an hour would be far too much. I hope you enjoyed your Xmas!

Dear Hillary,

My Thai girlfriend is perfect in every way, but one. When we go out for a beer she gets very ‘teary’ after a round or two and rehashes all the bad things that have happened to her in the past. As far as I am concerned, what’s in the past is in the past, so let’s not cry over spilt milk, as they say. She sees it this way too, until she’s had a skinful and then it’s back to the tears again. This then means no nooky for me that night. Have you any ideas what I can do to get her over this?


Dear George,

You men are all the same. Beer and sex, sex and beer. Don’t you think of anything else? Have you tried not plying her with drink? Beer is neither a stimulant or a muscle strengthener, but is a depressant and a muscle relaxer (ever heard of brewer’s droop). Neither of these items are good for your nocturnal pursuits, you know. Try sticking with soft drinks for the little lady - and a few for yourself won’t go astray either!

Dear Hillary,

I have an estate in the UK where I live for six months every year. My children are all grown up and are self supporting, and my wife is well covered in my will. The problem I am looking at now is the fact that I have invested in real estate in this country, and have a Thai friend who looks after my investment for me, collects rents and the like. I would like to make sure that he is looked after if I should die, and would want that my Thai real estate holdings go to him, and not my UK family which will be well off when I go, which I hope will not be too soon. How do I go about this, Hillary?


Dear Stewart,

Really it is not too difficult at all, but you have to follow Thai law in this situation. Hillary cannot give you all the details, but a good Thai lawyer can. Ask around your ex-pat friends for names of recommended lawyers, and if needs be get advice from more than one. I would try to keep your two sets of beneficiaries as separate as possible. There’s nothing like a death to bring a family together - to fight about who gets what! Add in another set of beneficiaries and you have a real catfight.

Dear Hillary,

I have a somewhat delicate problem, so you will forgive me if I do not sign this fax to you. I am a single man, working in the Sand Box and I come here regularly for many weeks at a time. On these trips here I generally find that there will be a young lady who indicates that she would like to take care of me, and a suitable arrangement can be entered into. This is great for a bachelor like me, but I also want to play the field a bit too. One young lady has really begun to sink the hooks into me, and I can see a problem coming up, because I own my own condo here. How do I get her to understand that this is not a lifetime relationship, and when I go back to work I will want her to leave the condo? I have four weeks left, Hillary, so a quick fix will be appreciated.

Sand Box Sam

Dear Sand Box Sam,

I think you have just found out that you can’t have your cake and eat it too! The way around this problem is to bring it out into view and it will cease to be such a worry for you. Since Hillary doesn’t know how good your Thai is, it may be better for you to have an interpreter, as it is important the young lady understands the situation. And understands it right now, not two days before you leave. She has been taking care of you, so now you must take a little care of her and her feelings. Now is the time to spell it all out, my Petal.

Camera Class: Background information

by Snapshot

How many times when you are taking a photograph do you look at the background? If you are honest, then the vast majority of you will reply, “Never.” Unfortunately, the wrong background, fussy, cluttered or “jarring” is a sure-fire way to spoil what could have been a great picture.

In your haste and eagerness to make the subject the “hero” you forget to look at the background, being so engrossed in making the foreground subject look good. However, there are many photographic techniques that can be used to get rid of backgrounds completely.

Take a look at the two photographs with this week’s article. The shot on the left shows a young girl sitting in a row of chairs, with an extremely “busy” and distracting background. On the other hand, the shot on the right shows the same girl sitting on the same row of chairs, but the background has degenerated into a blur of shapes. There is only one hero in this shot - the girl. The fact that these shots were taken less than 30 seconds apart, by the same photographer, using the same camera, shows that the control over the background is possible. It is not hit or miss.

One of the best techniques to master is the one that allows you to control the Depth of Field in any photograph. Depth of Field is merely the “sharp” area between the foreground and the background in any photograph. To isolate your subject in a snapshot you should try and get the sharpness region to begin just before your subject and end just behind the subject, your “hero”. Here’s how to do this.

For this technique, you do need a camera that allows you to select the Aperture, otherwise called the f stop. Look at the ring of numbers around your lens and you will see that they go from about 2.8 through to 22. You don’t even need to know what those numbers mean, but all you have to remember is that the smaller the number, the shorter the Depth of Field, and conversely, the bigger the number, the deeper the Depth of Field.

When you want to take a portrait, focus on the eyes and set a wide aperture - generally around f4 is satisfactory. Using a standard lens and shooting about 2 metres from the subject, you will get a Depth of Field, which will extend from around 200 mm in front to 400 mm behind. Anything further away will be gloriously out of focus, isolating your portrait subject from any distracting background, just like the photograph on the right.

Now let’s look at the other side of the coin. These are the times you want to have a huge Depth of Field, as in taking landscape photography, for example. To maximize the Depth of Field, go for the biggest number on the Aperture scale (generally around f22, though some lenses will give you f32). As an example, if the background is 1000 metres away, then focus on a point about 300 metres away. With the one third forward and two thirds back rule, you will get a good DOF from the foreground, right the way through to 1000 metres in the distance. Simple, isn’t it, after you understand the basic principles of these optical laws.

If you have an “Aperture” mode in your camera it is even easier. Select the aperture mode first, then select the f stop to give you shallow Depth of Field or deep Depth of Field and the camera will adjust the shutter speed to suit. Distracting backgrounds are now a thing of the past!

But what do you do when you have a point and shoot camera? Well, it isn’t the end of the world. First try and arrange your photo shoot location in a shadowed area. The automatic iris on the camera will automatically select a small numbered Aperture which will shorten the Depth of Field for you.

If all else fails, then just walk in close so that the subject fills the frame so well that there is no room for a background.

Recipes from Rattana: Soya Sauce Beef

This is a Vietnamese dish and is a reflection of the poorer agrarian society, since the prolonged slow cooking time allows the use of lesser (and more inexpensive) cuts of meat which can be used. Pork can be substituted for beef, where the Vietnamese leave the pork skin intact. It would be served with rice. It is a very simple dish that relies on the garlic and ginger for its flavour.

Ingredients Serves 4

Beef (chuck or sirloin) 500 gm

Garlic chopped 3 cloves

Spring onions chopped 6

Ginger root 2 cm

Light soya sauce 4 tbspns

White pepper 2 tspns

Cooking Method

Cut beef into large cubed pieces (around 4-5 cm) and place in a deep pot. Add garlic, spring onions and ginger. Cover meat with water and bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 2 hours. Ensure the meat does not boil dry. Remove meat from the pot and slice into smaller sized pieces. Sprinkle with soya sauce and white pepper and serve immediately.

Dr Byte's Computer Conundrums :Self Help Solutions to the most Common PC Problems for the Holiday Season

“My computer wont turn on!”

By Dr Byte, Citec Asia

If I have heard this phone call once, I have heard it 1000 times. It’s amazing how many friends I have when they are having computer problems. I try to help and what I have learned is that most people don’t do the obvious first, before calling.

So here’s my list of idiotic mistakes, some of which, I have to admit, I’ve made myself:

1. Is the computer plugged in?

This sounds simple enough, but you’d be amazed how often a power cord is the source of the trouble.

2. Are you looking at the right cord?

The corollary to the first item: If the computer starts but the monitor doesn’t, guess which power cord it is? That, or it’s the monitor cable if the monitor turns on but there is no picture.

3. Plug and replug.

And if the network, modem, keyboard, or mouse is on the fritz ... see where I am headed here? Until proven otherwise, it is always a cable problem. Turn everything off and unplug and replug all the cords and cables, and many problems will amazingly work themselves out.

4. Is there ink/toner in the printer?

It’s amazing how a lack of ink or toner can impede your printing efforts.

5. Are you sure the phone jack works?

When you plug a regular phone into your modem line, do you get dial tone? Is it noisy (listen for shhhhshshshshsh noises) when you pick up the phone line? Maybe its time to harass TOT to upgrade the line, or get a phone technician to check the line and connections inside the house/office.

6. What have you changed on your computer recently?

What new software have you installed? Does uninstalling, then reinstalling problem software fix things?

7. Where are you booting from?

If there is a diskette in the drive or a CD is trying to boot your computer, you can get really odd errors -so make sure all the drives are empty. When in doubt, reboot.

8. Finally, of course you’ve already rebooted the computer (more than once, if necessary) to see if it solves the problem. You have, haven’t you? You’d be amazed how many people stare at a frozen computer waiting for it to come back to life. After about 10 minutes of waiting, consider turning the computer off and then on again. Likewise, sometimes it takes multiple reboots to make a problem go away.

The mistakes I’ve made that are on this list include all the power cords - though I usually find them quickly enough - and being too quick to reboot when a problem might solve itself. This is particularly true with hardware installations on Windows ME which sometimes stare at me for an hour before magically completing.

I’d love to add some more common causes to this list, which I hope we can all use when troubleshooting other people’s computers - especially over the phone - or cut-and-paste into an e-mail response when the trouble report comes that way. Corporate IS people probably won’t get as much mileage from this as us common folk, being as it is hard to tell the CEO he’s computer-illiterate and needs to read a few Dummies books, even if it’s true.

A Happy New Year everyone and hopefully this list will help many resolve some of life’s more frustrating problems.

Dr Byte’s Computer Conundrums is a lighthearted but helpful approach to some of life’s frustrating moments, especially when there’s no tech around. If you have a question for Dr Byte, sent it to: [email protected]

Perfect Match

Marrying wine with food

By Ranjith Chandrasiri

Ninety percent of the time we drink our wine with food. As a matter of fact, food-with-wine is about as simple an issue as boy-meets-girl. Fortunately, what happens between food and wine is not haphazard. Certain elements of food react in predictable ways with certain elements of wine, giving us a winning chance at making successful matches. The major components of wine (alcohol, sweetness, acid and tannins) relate to the basic tastes of food (sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness). Some of the elements exaggerate each other and some compensate for each other.

Whether it is delicious Spanish Paella or a spicy Thai curry, you can always find a wine to compliment your meal.

“White wine with fish, red wine with meat.” That is the commonly accepted “law” for matching wine with food. Based on centuries of experience and tradition, it makes a lot of common sense: the subtle flavor of plainly grilled fish would be over-powered by a strong red wine, whereas it might be difficult to appreciate the finer points of a delicate white wine against the flavors of a rich beef stew. The reason we worry so much about choosing a wine to go with a particular meal is that without doubt the right food and wine combination can double the enjoyment of both.

The problem is that the simple “white-with-fish, red-with-meat” law doesn’t take into account many other factors, such as different styles of cooking, flavorsome sauces and accompaniments, or the influence of ethnic cuisine. More importantly, of course, it doesn’t take account of personal tastes and preferences.


Probably more rubbish has been written on the subject of matching wine with food than on any other aspect of wine enjoyment. The only sensible “rule” is to decide for yourself what suits your tastes - it might not be conventional, but your own, personal taste is far more important than convention. As we gain experience and learn more about wine, we think of it not just in terms of flavor, but also in other terms such as weight, power, aroma and length. One of the keys to choosing a wine to suit a particular dish is to take a moment to consider these qualities in relation to the food and then try to find a style of wine with qualities to match or to contrast.

For example, imagine a fillet of poached salmon with a rich, buttery sauce. The flesh of salmon is firmer, heavier and richer than some other fish and the sauce is rich and creamy. We could choose a full-bodied, big, buttery, oaked chardonnay to match the weight and character of the dish or we could choose a tart, fresh sauvignon blanc to contrast and cut through the heavy sauce. This all comes down to personal preferences, but either combination would probably work well. Alternatively, although it’s hard to imagine the flavors of this dish being helped by the tannins of a firm red wine, would the light body and fresh, fruity flavors of a young, delicate Beaujolais prove quite acceptable?

Many dishes need a full-bodied wine with an oak overlay and would suffer in tandem with a light, fruity wine. Smoked or wood grilled meats perk up with an oaky, California Chardonnay, the big, rich, vanilla-laden wines match perfectly with roasted chicken that drips with naturally buttery, fatty juices and are just wonderful with a holiday turkey that’s been cooked in a charcoal or wood roaster. And they do just fine with a rich lobster; on the other hand they totally lose out in pairing with crisp, acidic oysters, where a Chablis, a non-oaked Chardonnay, a Fume Blanc, or a Muscadet would make a wonderful match.

Are lighter style wines inferior? Hardly. There are wines that have proven their computability with local cuisines over the centuries, wines such as Sancerre in the Loire, Rioja in Spain, Chianti in Tuscany, and the lighter wines of the French and Italian Riviera.

They are light and easy on the palate, and palate fatigue is seldom a factor. They’re not burdened by the oak and high-octane strength linked with so-called serious wines and make for a pleasant match. On the other hand, the lighter reds would be lost in pairing with the beef bracciole, a favorite in the Piedmont, a dish that demands the muscle of a native Barolo or Barbaresco.

Do high acid wines make better food matches? I like Sancerres and Sauvignon Blancs and crisp Chablis with simply cooked fish. Those slightly acidic wines add sparkle to a fish dish, much like a squeeze of lemon and can counterbalance oiliness or fatness in food. They won’t, however, do well and will, in fact, taste thin and troubling when you’ve dressed up the fish with a rich buttery sauce. Fatty fish or well-sauced fish demands a creamier Chardonnay.

I’ve always been told to avoid wines with salads. Is that right? Partially. Lettuce and other greens coated with a strong, acidic vinaigrette can destroy a wine. But make your vinaigrette with a softer, rounder vinegar, a fine balsamic or a wine vinegar and you’ve got a different situation where the vinaigrette enhances the taste of the wine. Spike the salad with sweet onions or rich tomatoes or Roquefort cheese and match it with a fine, dry Riesling or a chilled rose’ and you’ve got a match made in food heaven. You’ve just got to think a bit harder when selecting wine for a salad.

Is there a wine for chocolate? You can bet a case of port or a batch fortified red wines on this match. Try a Ruby or Tawny port with rich chocolate and you’ll wish you’d started the meal with dessert. Try chocolate with other sweet fortified reds, Madeira or new-world ports made from non-traditional wines from Australia and California.

Guidelines - conventional combinations

Fish - (plain grilled or fried) dry or medium whites which shouldn’t overwhelm the fish and should help to cleanse the palate between mouthfuls.

Shellfish - crisp, dry white like Chablis, dry Riesling, sauvignon blanc or Champagne.

Poultry - pinot noir and mature cabernet sauvignon are delicious with roast chicken or turkey. If choosing a white, try something medium bodied chardonnay or medium-dry German wine. The richness of duck needs a rich wine (red or white) with full flavor.

Game & red meat - the classic combination is with full, mature, red wines of high quality - Burgundy, Bordeaux, Chโteauneuf-du-Pape or a new-world equivalent.

Lamb- a fairly firm, robust red with some acidity, like Chianti, Rioja or zinfandel.

Chinese food - spicy whites such as gewrztraminer or off-dry Riesling.

Indian or other spicy food - very cold, semi-sweet whites can be lovely pairings.

Cheese - there are many good cheese and wine matches - mature cheddar and mature red wine, port with stilton, goats’ cheese with sauvignon blanc, sweet wine with creamy cheeses are all classic pairings. Avoid reds that are very tannic and whites that are heavily oaked.

Dessert - the best sweet white wines are perfect partners for most desserts.

Some foods are regarded as “problem” foods for wine matching: eggs, tomatoes, vinegar, salad dressings and lemon are some examples that spring to mind, but again it’s all down to personal taste.

Now that you’ve been exposed to a whole new set of rules, just remember the basic one. It’s your taste that matters. If you like a wine, drink it with the food you enjoy and you’re bound to be satisfied.

Ranjith Chandrasiri is the resident manager of Royal Cliff Grand and the founder the of the Royal Cliff Wine Club, Royal Cliff Beach Resort, Pattaya, Thainad. email: [email protected] or [email protected]