My first stop during my winemaking gap year was Quinta de Roriz, home of Chryseia, one of the best still red wines in the Douro region of Portugal (available at Watson’s Wine). Due to its remote location, most of the winemaking team members, including me, lived on site and had meals together. At every lunch and dinner, there were always a few pitchers of wine on the table and we would each have one or two glasses to wash down the food. The wine was straightforward and served in tumblers – nobody sniffed or swirled. The winemaker drank the same wine.
Most Portuguese have wine with every meal. Nearly every snack bar (similar to Hong Kong‘s cha chaan tengs) serves wine. This everyday wine is simple and inexpensive but pleasant. Only occasionally will they have a more expensive, serious bottle. The wine journey of Portuguese – and, in fact, most Europeans – starts with drinking a bottle they like and then perhaps later learning more about the wine. They drink and appreciate wine of all levels.
This is a big contrast to us here in Hong Kong. We only drink occasionally, and when we do, most of us tend to choose more expensive wines ($250 and above) and go through the ritual of sniffing, swirling and sipping. Moreover, we tend to first learn and then like, but very few of us drink wine every day or even once a week. We brag about wine labels and shun everyday wine.
I’m pretty sure Hong Kong wine lovers have more wine knowledge than most Portuguese, but I wonder if we truly like and enjoy wine as they do. Pleasure and enjoyment often come from small and humble things. Just think about our favourite street-food snacks: curry fish balls and siu mai. They are simple and inexpensive but delicious. These words are what I associate with everyday drinking wine.
I always hope our cha chaan tengs and fast-food chains will include wine with their meal sets, but for some reason, nobody wants to take the first step. However, I recently discovered someone who shares my belief. Ho Chuen BBQ (好串), a new Hong Kong snack place tucked away on Luen Fat Street in Wanchai, serves our favourite local snacks plus more. And here’s the good news. Good-quality, everyday wine that costs less than a soft drink is also available. Check it out. It may be the beginning of Hong Kong‘s true wine journey. Hopefully, other cha chaan tengs and fast-food chains will soon follow suit.
Going back to my winemaking stint in Portugal, Chryseia is only made in limited quantities for special occasions. However, it has two siblings, Post Scriptum and Prazo de Roriz. Retailing at $128 per bottle at Watson’s Wine, Prazo de Roriz is exactly the everyday drinking wine I’m talking about. Try it with your lunch box, fried noodles or burger!