A Touch of Red or White: How Papua New Guinea Is Interested in Wine


With wine appreciation on the rise in Papua New Guinea. The sommelier of Loloata Island Resort, Kannapan Jayakumar, tells PNG now why wine has become such a sensation and why the Highlands might be a good place to start a winery.

The sommelier at Loloata Resort, Kannapan Jayakumar. Credit: Loloata Island Resort

Wine appreciation is on the rise in Papua New Guinea, so we asked Loloata Island Resort’s sommelier and food and beverage manager, Kannapan Jayakumar, what people drink and his favorite drops.

Jayakumar was born in India, but it was when he ended up working in a wine bar in Dubai that he discovered a passion for wine that became his career. In typical Dubai extravagance, the Oeno wine bar at the Westin hotel had over 800 bottles of wine to recommend and 80 different kinds of cheese to go with it.

After being promoted to Wine Supervisor, he moved to Savannah, Georgia, USA where he decided to engage in wine studies and is now a Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommelier in the USA. .

“There are more wine options available in the PNG market than ever before. “

Jayakumar is very happy with his role at Loloata. “This job is a dream,” he says. “Working on the island, especially in these difficult days when people can’t travel outside of PNG, and meeting new people every day and talking about wines and their travel experience, is the best part of a hotelier. “

Kannapan Jayakumar on …

More and more people in PNG are switching to wine from the usual culture of beer and cocktails. What is driving this change is that there are more varietals available in the PNG market than ever before. Additionally, many people learn wine from the expats they work with, at team dinners and cocktail parties.

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The biggest challenge has been to overcome the mentality that wine is for the rich.

Most wine drinkers in PNG prefer Australian and New Zealand wines, especially Shiraz, Cabernet, and Sauvignon Blanc. Most of the wines in PNG are imported from Australia, New Zealand and also some wines from South Africa. There is also a small share of European wines.

Penfold’s and Jacob’s Creek tend to dominate the market and are very popular in this part of the world as they have almost every varietal in their portfolio with a wide price range.

Customers also ask me for Pinot Gris, Viognier and some have even asked me for Californian Zinfandel. Zinfandel generally means a rosé or blush wine. It is a unique grape that I appreciated during my studies in the United States. It is light and rich in acidity and I like to have a drink with my rack of lamb.

My favorite wines at Loloata Resort (loloataislandresort.com) include Cloudy Bay pinot noir with salmon and Veuve Cliquot by the pool.

PNG has a diverse climate and rich soil in the Highland region. I would like to see someone who really has a passion for winemaking take the first step towards a local winery with small batch production

Wine course

Learn these well-known styles of wine and you are well on your way to becoming your very own sommelier.

Shiraz – Very popular in Australia, shiraz (or syrah) is fatty and fruity but is also known to be peppery. It goes well with spicy dishes.

Cabernet – This French grape is popular in Bordeaux and the most planted grape in the world. Cabernet is the wine of choice if you eat steak.

Sauvignon Blanc – Originally from Bordeaux, but popularized in New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc is crisp, dry and refreshing.

Pinot Gris – German grape variety of white wine, Pinot Gris is a spicy and full-bodied wine.

Violate – French white grape, Viognier is light and goes very well with seafood.

Zinfandel – Popularized in the United States, zinfandel has hints of strawberry or cherry and is excellent in the sun.

The article “A Touch of Red (or White): How PNG Hangs in Wine” first appeared in the October 2021 issue of PNG Now, PNG’s first lifestyle magazine.


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