Uncorked: Tony Wang

Tony Wang has been the head sommelier of STAY by Yannick Alléno in Taipei for one year. He has over 17 years of experience in the restaurant business – six of them as head sommelier – and since his time at STAY, has revolutionised the wine menu and helped the restaurant win Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence in 2013. He speaks to db HK about the worst things a customer can say to him and the sommelier 10-second window…

Tony WangWhat vintage are you? 

1974.

What bottle sparked your love of wine?

Wow, so many to think of. From a mature Burgundy, Rioja, Barolo to a beautiful Champagne – these wines catch my heart.

What would you be as a wine?

Me? I’d like to be Champagne, you can drink it anytime and everyone loves it.

Where are you happiest?

Anywhere where I am near wine. In cellars, wine shops, wine seminars and wineries. I am greedy for anything wine-related.

What’s your greatest vice?

It is hard to say. I always end up giggling whenever I have to do a blind tasting for some reason and I can’t explain why!

Best advice you ever got?

As a sommelier, you have only a ten-second window to work out what a customer wants. If you get it wrong, you’ve had it. In my previous job at D.N Innovacion, I met so many wine experts who really inspired me and gave me ideas that I have carried on to my current job.

Most overused word?

I find myself saying this a lot: “Sorry, we DO charge a corkage fee.”

Your cellar’s underwater, which bottle would you dive in and save?

This would be very difficult because I can’t swim! If I could, I would go with our fragile, sensitive, expensive and vintage wines. But the top priority would be the wines kept by our VIP customers – even if they are kept for free…

What’s the best and worst thing about the wine business?

The best part: When guests trust in me on wine recommendations I make, and give me free rein for pairing their wines for dishes without any budget limitation!

The worst part: When a customer come in and says, “I know your boss, I am a good friend of his, how dare you charged corkage on me and/or my friends? Where is the manager?” Fortunately, it doesn’t happen so often.

What’s on your wine bucket list?

It’s a long list! An example would be: Grower Champagne to unknown Bourgogne, Rioja, Barolo, Babaresco, Germany’s TBA, Sauternes, Vintage Port, V.O.R.S Jerez, and more…

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

My dear mom, sweet girlfriend and good friends.

Personal satisfaction (Parker points – out of 100)

It could be anywhere from 61-99pts and a much wider range than Parker points! My guests should be the ones rating me, in fact.

Which wine would you like served at your funeral?

A few rare magnums of Champagne and vintage wines, such as Bourgogne, Rioja and Barolo and self-made wines labelled Château or Domaine Tony Wang.

3 Responses to “Uncorked: Tony Wang”

  1. Reminds me of what – a few years ago – Allied Domecq used to call the 10 second waiter test.
    What can the waiter say to the client in 10 seconds that will convince the client that a product is worth tasting/buying?
    It could be amusing, wacky, geeky, poetical or whatever, but if the attributes of the product could not be summed up in 10 seconds and communicated in a simple and convincing way by the sommelier/bar tender then the potential new product never got launched.
    Worth remembering today

  2. Mark says:

    Tony def is a great Somme in Taiwan, always enjoy the moment with his wine service!

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