There is no shortage of wine shops in Sai Ying Pun, but Crushed Wines stands out from the pack.
Crushed Wines was founded last year by four energetic women with a combined few decades of wine, restaurant and marketing experience. They work only with winemakers who share their values of sustainability, humanity and community.
Sustainable wine is not necessarily organic or biodynamic. Instead, it focuses on the bigger picture in order to preserve the surrounding environment so as not to harm the natural habitat, even aiming to make it better. Humanity is all about treating farmers and workers fairly, while community involves supporting the entire community.
Obviously, Crushed Wines does not bring in just any wine that possesses these values – first and foremost, the wine must be tasty. With Crushed Wines, you can rest assured that you are buying something delicious while contributing to a better world at the same time.
Having said that, Crushed Wines does not oversell their values, possibly putting off people. The only telltale sign of these values is a notice in the shop – a collection point for Feeding Hong Kong, a charity that redistributes surplus food to those in need.
The wines offered by Crushed are categorised by style, not country, using layman’s language such as “playful”, “bold”, “easy-breezy” and “flower power”. There are around 50 SKUs, enough to offer good choice, but not too many to intimidate. Most of the wines are from the USA, South Africa and Italy owing to the connections the founders have with these countries.
The majority of the wines are small batch and off the beaten track, so you are unlikely to recognise any of the labels. But Leigh-Ann, one of the Crushed founders and the face of the shop, is always ready to lend a helping hand. She is knowledgeable but won’t bore you with technical details (unless you insist!). As a matter of fact, there are customers who drop in regularly just to have a no-nonsense wine chat with Leigh-Ann.
When I visited the shop, I came across a few quirky wines. One is piquette – petit vin, or little wine, made by refermenting leftover grape skins after the first wine has been made. There is still sugar in the skins, and the resulting product is a naturally cheerful, low-alcohol wine best enjoyed chilled slightly. There is a growing demand for low-alcohol wine, and most are artificially made by removing some of the alcohol from normal wine, resulting in wine that is often watery and unbalanced. Piquette is much more agreeable.
We’re told piquette has been a big hit in the USA and is being served at some of most fashionable wine bars in New York. Constant Crush Limited Edition Piquette 2020 is a refreshing wine made in Oregon featuring notes of red berries and black pepper. It’s made from Cabernet Franc and Grenache and has 7.8% alcohol.
Then there is Ampeleia UNLITRO, a one-litre Italian red blend of Carignan, Mourvèdre and Sangiovese from Tuscany. It is a tradition in the Tuscan countryside to pour a one-litre flask of wine into tumblers to share with friends, a symbol of conviviality. This wine expresses the joyful, carefree nature of being with friends.
What I like most about Crushed Wines is that except for the core wines, the rest of the bottles change regularly, so there is always a surprise to be found. Weekend tastings are available, and you are welcome to drop by and explore.
35–37 First Street, Sai Ying Pun, 5597 8774 (open Tuesday–Saturday, 12–9pm, and 12–8pm on Sunday)
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