Moving to Singapore

Richard Hemming selfie with wine.jpg

In eight days, I am moving to Singapore. Even written down, it doesn’t quite feel real. For the last few weeks - since most of our stuff was picked up for shipping over there - I have been in a sort of limbo, and the reality of relocating hasn’t sunk in yet.

But when my beloved piano was picked up today, off to be looked after by a friend in Oxfordshire, I got a definite pang. So I’m writing this post partly to reassure myself, and partly to explain my plans to everyone else, since quite a few people have been asking what I will be up to.

So here are the basics. In December last year, my wife was recruited as the headteacher of primary at NLCS Singapore on a three-year contract. We had been discussing the theoretical possibility of moving abroad for some time, and Singapore was top of our list, so when the job was advertised it was the ideal opportunity.

I will be continuing to work for, covering tastings in Singapore but also travelling elsewhere, including the Rhône at least once a year to cover primeur tastings. That will account for around 20% of my time, and I will continue some other UK-based work too - but I will also be finding new opportunities locally. At the moment, I have no idea what those opportunities might be (although I expect it to remain in the worlds of writing, judging, consultancy and teaching), so for the first six months or so I will be getting to know the Singapore wine trade and the people who work in it.

Leaving the London wine scene after 11 years as a freelancer is not a decision to be taken lightly, and I’m very conscious of potentially sacrificing the advantages it has brought me. It’s a world I know well, full of people I’ve become very friendly with, and the range of tastings on offer is second to none.

However it is also a very crowded market, and the routine of back-to-back huge tastings can get repetitive. It’s easy to get cynical about it. I have been hugely fortunate to work here, and taken advantage of every chance that has come my way, so it will be interesting to see how different Singapore is in that respect. From everything I’ve heard, it is still very much a burgeoning market for wine, so the timing of my move might be fortuitous (especially when a certain members’ club opens there next year … allegedly …)

I will be returning to England at least three times a year for various duties, so will stay in touch with the London trade, and hope to see lots of colleagues and friends as they pass through Singapore. That means you, so don’t be a stranger!