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What’s the most popular wine by the glass in Hong Kong?

For a long time a restaurant’s wine by the glass programme was an afterthought, a quick and convenient way to dispose of half opened bottles or make a bit of extra money out of cheaper wines; a chance to make a quick profit from drinkers who didn’t want to commit to a whole bottle. But that’s not necessarily the case any more in Hong Kong.

It’s generally established with a respectable restaurant or a wine bar that a good mix of diverse, novel and quirky wines are not just there to please, but surprise and even challenge patrons.

In restaurants, depending on the size of the operation and focus, wines by the glass can vary from a a mere handul to a few dozen, but it’s commonly acknowledged it should a good mix of sparkling, white, red, fortified and sweet wines.

But what works for a good wine-by-the-list programme without sacrificing quality or profit? We asked a few sommeliers and bar owners in Hong Kong about what works and what doesn’t. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Sauvignon Blanc is the white grape variety that seems to be the main crowd-pleaser on many lists, and Pinot Noir straddles both the Old World and the New.

Click through the pages to check out what they have to say.


Zuma, a Japanese fusion restaurant in Central, is the go-to place for office workers and where head sommelier, Juwan Kim, is currently curating a list of 29 wines by the glass, including six wines using Coravin, three Champagnes, eight whites, two rosés, seven reds, two dessert wines and one fortified wine.

What is the best selling wine by the glass at your restaurant? 

Juwan Kim: “Definitely Sauvignon Blanc (Seresin Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Marlborough, New Zealand) and Pinot Noir (Two Paddocks 2015, Central Otago, New Zealand). Because we are indicating grape varieties first instead of regions, guests can choose varieties that they feel familiar with.

“It doesn’t seem to have the same format as other wine-by-the-glass lists but we know guests will appreciate it if they find familiar grape varieties and regions from our wine programme.

“As mentioned above, guests prefer wines which they feel comfortable with especially if it’s only one or two glasses. And we know which style of wines it should be: fragrant, light and crisp Sauvignon Blanc that’s easy to drink, and also beautifully structured Pinot Noir. That’s why those wines are popular.”


The contemporary Cantonese outpost on Duddell’s street in Central has been steadfastly serving up classics on the wine list as well as some quirky, if not controversial natural wines since its knowledgeable sommelier Derek Li took the helm of its wine list earlier this year. The charming restaurant now curates 30 wines by the glass including some selections of Coravin, but for now Burgundy dominates its most popular choices.

What is the best selling wine by the glass at your restaurant? 

Derek Li: “For white, Chateau de Maltroye Clos du Chateau de la Maltroye Monopole 1er Cru, Chassagne-Montrachet 2015. For red, Geantet-Pansiot Gevrey-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes 2011.”


This fine dining French restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong is an all-round hit among thirsty wine lovers. For the wine by the glass programme, head sommelier Mathieu Marchal selected four Champagnes of one producer in different styles (blanc de blancs, blanc de noirs, rosé and prestige cuvée) and five whites and reds by the glass, covering the major grapes varieties such Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Sauvignon. 

What is the best selling wine by the glass at your restaurant? 

Mathieu Marchal: “I have worked in many different countries and of course the guests’ preferences differ. But people love Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay and for the red, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. I think these are the common grapes varieties that customers know well. I am not surprised because Burgundy is in fashion now and people are drinking more Burgundy wines than before; and Bordeaux, has always been one of the most famous regions in the world.

“From our end, we select popular types of wine and grape varieties, but what we really try to do is to surprise our guests with some extraordinary but relatively unknown winemakers. To give you an example, everyone knows the taste of classic Sauvignon Blanc, but if you go deeper into an appellation like Sancerre, you can find some vineyards and winemakers that make special types of wine. We now have the Sancerre Les Monts Damnés from Pascal Cotat 2016 in our selection and this is a Sauvignon Blanc that has a much stronger and more floral aroma and is very fruity. Guests are often surprised by the quality of this wine and they say that they did not expect a Sauvignon Blanc to be so attractive. This kind of good surprise is what we want our guests to experience. This is one of the most popular wines for us I would say. 

“What is most important for us is to give diversity to our customers. There are some wines they are familiar with and it’s important to have the classic grape varieties. In addition, we have our wine pairing with the dishes, where a major part of the selection is not listed on our wine-by-the-glass list, so it gives us an opportunity to increase the range of wine-by-the-glass options.

“If we feel that our guest is ready to discover some new wines, we love to let them pair with our more adventurous wines such as Château Simone white, Vin Jaune, Passito di Pantelleria, Marsala etc. This is when you can really make the wine pairing and tasting exciting.” 

La Cabane

The first wine bar in Hong Kong to feature organic and natural wines, La Cabane is a pioneer in many senses. This small wine bar on Hollywood in Central is a good place to go for something unusual. Serving between 15 and 20 wines by the glass all year long, the bar generally has five or six whites and reds, two to four sparkling wines and Champagne, one or two orange wines in addition to Vin Jaune, says its co-founder Cristobal Huneeus.

How often do you change the wine list?  

Cristobal Huneeus: “The list changes regularly. No real pattern here but at least two or three times a month we remove or change some wines. We rarely change the entire list in one go.”

What is the best selling wine by the glass at your restaurant?
CH: “For the category and colour, we usually see a pattern of more reds in winter and whites in summer with also more rosé in spring and summer. We tend to showcase wines with different textures, deep and light red. Often from different regions in France; right now we have one Languedoc (a light Grenache); one Rhône (a Grenache Syrah Mouvdre blend); one Bordeaux (fruity typical blend of four grapes); one Burgundy and a foreign wine, which at the moment is a light and crazy blend of Pinot Noir and Syrah from Nelson, New Zealand).
“For the white, again we try to have a regional approach with representation of wines from Loire (Sauvignon Blanc – yeasty and fruity), Northern Burgundy (dry Chardonnay), Alsace with a Pinot Gris and a Rhône (typical but very mineral and not fatty made from Viognier, Roussane, Clairette) and finally a Riesling from Barossa Valley.
“Orange is a distinctive new category which is extremely popular among our regulars and we love to play with these skin contact wines.”

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