Meet the Founders: Amy Powell and Christina Lau Tam of TOASST
Meet the Founders:Amy Powell and Christina Lau Tam, Founders of TOASST
TOASST takes the guesswork out of wine buying to help wine lovers discover and taste better wines.
Amy Powell and Christina Lau Tam are passionate wine lovers looking to bring the best wines from around the world to Hong Kong by delivering a sommelier experience to your doorstep.
- Tell us a bit about yourselves and what inspired you to start TOASST.
- What sets TOASST apart from a traditional retail wine shop?
- What are some things that TOASST does to inform and inspire the journey to broaden wine appreciation?
- What are the biggest faux pas or things that make you cringe when it comes to wine?
- What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a new business so far and how have you overcome them?
- What are your top picks for easy drinking when wine o-clock hits at home?
They are on a mission to help wine enthusiasts live and wine better. Understanding what you like and how you like to drink it, TOASST is opening up a door to a wide world of wine, uncorking a story in every glass.
We spoke with Amy and Christina and they shared with us what makes TOASST stand out from a traditional wine shop, especially when it comes to the challenges they’ve overcome as a small business, and why wine is for everyone not matter your budget or wine knowledge.
TOASST has put the fun and adventure back into trying new things when it comes to wine.
Tell us a bit about yourselves and what inspired you to start Toasst.
Americans by birth, our paths converged in Hong Kong at a wine tasting at Michelin-starred Caprice and the rest is history.
As PR and marketing specialists by day and wine lovers in the after hours, we realised that we could pool our backgrounds in wine sales, certification and journalism to change the wine experience in Hong Kong. After years of giving recommendations and even ordering wine for friends, we realised there had to be a better way to help people who are short on time drink better wine. TOASST was launched in November 2019 as a way to open up the world of wine to Hongkongers.
What sets Toasst apart from a traditional retail wine shop?
Unless you have a trusted retailer, the wine shopping experience can be a lonely one. You can find yourself wandering an aisle with no way to distinguish one bottle of rosé from the next, or going down a rabbit hole of online reviews without the time to do the research or knowing who to trust.
TOASST takes the guesswork out of the wine buying process - we hand-select boutique and independent producers from around the world so you are guaranteed quality wine in every TOASST box. Then we deliver those wines right to your door. We carry wines on the wine lists of the top restaurants and hotels in Hong Kong so no more worrying about the “right” wines to pick up after work, or on your way to dinner at a friend’s place. Finally, we take that wine journey further by giving you the story behind every wine. Each TOASST box comes with tasting notes and food pairing suggestions so you can learn along the way. With TOASST you can join our wine club with 6 bottles of wine delivered monthly or quarterly, or you can select from a range of seasonal single box or gift box options that can be ordered through TOASST.CO anytime and delivered the same week.
What are some things that Toasst does to inform and inspire the journey to broaden wine appreciation?
We’re passionate about the winemakers and wines we represent. We source wines from around the world focusing on small producers, up and coming wine regions, and lesser known varietals. Through thoughtful, restaurant quality selections and down-to-earth recommendations, we aim to be your neighbourhood sommelier by offering beautiful wines meant for everyday drinking, delivered seamlessly, direct to your door. Each beautifully packaged selection of six bottles of wine comes complete with extensive tasting notes and food pairing recommendations.
What are the biggest faux pas or things that make you cringe when it comes to wine?
We rather feel the opposite - people should not be scared of the wine faux pas! Some people are so afraid of doing the wrong thing with wine it too often holds them back from trying new things. At TOASST we are trying to help wine lovers discover new wines in a fun, no-pressure environment so that the next time they go to a restaurant they don’t just order whatever New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is on the menu, but have the knowledge to pick a Sardinian Vermentino or a South African Chenin Blanc because they remember having tasted that before in a TOASST box and enjoyed it. Or they have the courage to talk to their sommelier and say “hey, I’ve recently been enjoying some aromatic whites like Rhone blends, can you recommend something new for me to try”?
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a new business so far and how have you overcome them?
Starting a new business is never easy, add in protests followed by a pandemic and we had more of a challenge than we anticipated. Someone once said, “never let a good crisis go to waste”, meaning difficult times are also an opportunity to try new things as a business. We did just that. While we had initially planned on lots of in person events to launch TOASST we pivoted to virtual events including live conversations with winemakers in South Africa and member exclusive tastings of seasonal promotions like our Endless Summer Box. As more people were drinking and entertaining at home, we expanded our offerings beyond our subscription service to wine party packs and custom concierge wine selection. Now we expect virtual winemaker visits to be a regular part of our in-person and virtual events and our seasonal, gift TOASST boxes have become highly anticipated events as we roll out new offerings each season.
What are your top picks for easy drinking when wine o-clock hits at home?
When it comes to wine o-clock this time of year in Hong Kong and in honour of Father’s Day, we would recommend easy wines that take you from aperitivo to dinner. Suggestions include the Sigalas Barrel Fermented Assyrtiko from Santorini from our limited edition Somm Box where a whiff will whisk you away to the Mediterranean. Organic and barrel aged with extra texture and richness, well-balanced and mouth-watering acidity, it’s wonderful on its own and stands up against richer dishes like curry, grilled or roast meats.
Red lovers will enjoy a delicious treat in this month’s June TOASST box. The Vilafonte Seriously Old Dirt 2018 is an accessible Bordeaux blend of Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc from the Western Cape in South Africa. The brainchild of winemakers from Opus One and Robert Mondavi, behind the fun label is a full-bodied wine with silky round tannins, velvety finish, well structured, balanced acidity with notes of bright cherry fruit, cassis, vanilla, spices and coco with savoury, herbal undertones. A big wine still very much drinkable now and a perfect companion with a juicy flank steak, pulled pork sandwiches or grilled portobello mushroom burger.
To find out more about TOASST or to sign up to receive their wine subscription boxes which are delivered monthly or quarterly visit their website. You can also select from a range of seasonal single box or gift box options that can be ordered anytime and delivered the same week.
Also, now through June 11, 2021 at 11:59PM HKT, you can enter our Retykle Father's Day Giveaway, for the chance to win 8000HKD worth of items including a TOASST Mixed Box, worth 2100HKD (includes 6 bottles of wine), and 1 nights staycation at The Upper House! Click here to join.