Uncorked: Yvonne Cheung

Swire Hotels’ director of wine, Yvonne Cheung, on different uses for a walk-in freezer, rescuing the biggest bottle from her cellar and loving wine. Yvonne studied in California and New York before working in Napa Valley. She was previously head sommelier at The Upper House before becoming director of wine for Swire.

yvonne cheungWhat Vintage are you?
1982

What bottle sparked your love of wine?
Impossible to list just one experience, but early on, a Luis Pato Bairrada 1988.

Ambition or talent?
Passion – it glues ambition and talent together.

What would you be as a wine?
Something a touch fickle… but ultimately, a bottle that improves with time.  Keep me at a cool temperature.

Where are you happiest?
Depends…on a really busy night of crazy running on the floor, the walk-in freezer is a pretty safe bet.

Otherwise, I’m actually quite the introvert in my personal life, and I’m very happy to be at home with my books, a glass of wine, music and comfort food. It’s a rare occasion. Boring, I know, but it thrills me!

What’s your greatest vice?
Greatest as in most significant or one that has a positive outcome?

Best advice you ever got?
Don’t mistake kindness for weakness.

Your cellar’s underwater, which bottle would you dive in and save?
I guess the biggest bottle!

What’s the best & worst thing about the wine business?
Worst thing: the hangovers.
Best thing: the part just before the hangovers.

That is, officially, a joke.

In all seriousness, the best part is to be immersed in something we love, to meet different people who are likeminded, and to find enjoyment in sharing something wonderful.

Sounds idyllic, and sometimes it is but there’s so much work involved as well – most of it is never glamorous – and if you really are fortunate to love what you do, than that part isn’t so bad either. What else? Well, it wouldn’t be hurt to be paid more.

Personal satisfaction (Parker points)
90

Desert island vine?
Desert island wine might have to be grand cru red Burgundy.  And assuming I don’t get off the island, a good recent vintage to last me through the decades.

One Response to “Uncorked: Yvonne Cheung”

  1. An interesting and inspiring read abut Yvonne Cheung, whom we highly respect in our industry. Our favourite statements by Yvonne are the ones about the definition of passion and the diplomatic approach on her remuneration, which can echo having worked in the F&B and hospitality scene before. Bravo Yvonne, we look forward to read about you soon again and thank you for sharing your thougts and points of view!

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