April 25, 2020 / 8:23 AM / a month ago

Web over virus: Taiwan sommelier takes wine tasting online

TAIPEI (Reuters) - A young Taiwanese sommelier is taking his wine tasting classes online to keep his business afloat, as social distancing rules to contain the spread of the new coronavirus prevents large gatherings.

Peter Petrus, 37, a Taiwanese sommelier, conducts an online wine tasting class from his studio, during the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Taipei, Taiwan, April 24, 2020. Photo taken on April 24, 2020. REUTERS/Ann Wang

Live streaming from his studio in Taipei, Peter Petrus, the professional name he uses for his business, teaches the art of wine-tasting online to people across the island.

The containment measures have had a big impact on business, Petrus told Reuters.

“So I started contemplating if there might be a way to work around this situation - at the end of the day the company has to keep going.”

While Taiwan has been relatively successful so far in curbing the spread of the virus, with 428 cases and six deaths, the government has been promoting social distancing and discouraging large gatherings to keep the pandemic under control.

Online tasting has a few constraints - mainly around packing, maintaining the right temperature and sending the bottles on time to customers.

“The problem with wine is that it starts oxidation once you open the bottle,” said Petrus, who meticulously pours a selection of wine into smaller bottles and labels each before couriering.

Students who receive the wine samples join Petrus online to sip together as they flip through the course material.

Petrus, who films and livestreams via his smartphone, keeps his students engaged while he explains the finer points of each wine.

Candice Yang, a 32-year-old maths teacher, who joined one of his online courses this week, described the experience as ‘quite special.’

    “It feels just the same (as being there) with a bit of additional warmth and chill-out, because it’s so cosy at home.”

Reporting by Fabian Hamancher; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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