Uncorked: Reeze Choi
Reeze Choi, a young and dynamic sommelier hailing from Hong Kong, has emerged as one of the brightest stars in Hong Kong’s wine circuit recently. Having worked at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Upper Modern Bistro and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Choi made an usual career move last year, quitting his full time job to focus on ASI World’s Best Sommelier Competition. His efforts and dedication were eventually rewarded when he was announced as the runner-up of the ASI Asia-Oceania Best Sommelier Competition 2018, and finished with a 16th at the World’s Best Sommelier Competition in Belgium earlier this month, a new record for Hong Kong’s sommelier community. Chatting to dbHK, the young sommelier shares his sources of joy from the service floor and intensive wine competitions, his desire to visit more wine regions, and his greatest vice, like many of us – social media.
What vintage are you?
My vintage is 1988, not an exceptional one overall. But you may find some good bottles from Côte du Rhône and Madeira.
What bottle sparked your love of wine?
It should be Château Angelus 2009. There was a half bottle leftover from a wine dinner. The guest gave it to me. I put the cork back to the bottle and I tasted it again after two days. The tannins had softened. The aroma became so generous and complex. After that, I realised that wine was full of life and possibility.
What would you be as a wine?
A young Bordeaux red wine. It has potential, and a lot of room for developing.
Where are you happiest?
On the service floor or at a sommelier competition. I love serving guests in a restaurant, seeing their happy faces after a nice dining experience that I have provided. It makes me feel satisfied and happy.
On the other hand, I love competition. It pushes me to learn more and to keep studying. I also earn friendship from around the world and have the chance to meet all the great sommeliers during the competition. The most meaningful part is that it gives me a chance to prove to the world that we, Hong Kong – such a small city – have the ability to stand on the international stage.
What’s your greatest vice?
Youtube, Facebook, Instagram
Best advice you ever received?
“A sommelier has to be humble.” It’s by the 2016 winner of Best Sommelier in the World, Mr. Jon Arvid Rosengren.
Your cellar’s underwater, which bottle would you dive in and save?
I laughed when I read this question, because I don’t even have a cellar or a bottle of wine at home…
What’s the best and worst thing about the wine business?
The best part of the wine business is that it brings people closer. It provides the bridges for people of the same interest from all over the world to connect and learn about each other’s cultures. The worst is how part of it is overly turned into a speculative business.
What’s on your wine bucket list?
It will be a long list. To be honest, in these eight years of learning wine, I only had the opportunity to visit wineries in Alsace and Austria. It would be great to keep exploring the world, like Champagne, Piedmont, Burgundy, Mosel, Madeira, Barossa, and New Zealand, etc.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Everyone who has helped me, inspired me, taught me, and been by my side along the challenging sommelier journey.
Personal satisfaction (Parker points – out of 100)?
79. I am very difficult to be satisfied. I still have a long way to go before achieving my goals at competitions, finding a fitting job, and being a great sommelier.
Which wine would you like to be served at your funeral?
I would say Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires 1995. But how dare you drink it without me?!