Not a fan of mass-market wine retailers and unreliable e-commerce operators? For a better wine-buying experience, check out these thoughtful and well-stocked specialty shops.
While there’s no shortage of outstanding wine bars and restaurants with extensive wine lists in Hong Kong, that same level of excellence isn’t so easily found when it comes to the city’s wine retailers. Sure, you’re never far from a supermarket with a sizeable selection or even a big retailer with bottles from all over the world, but shopping at such places feels transactional and a bit joyless. Similarly, an increasing number of online stores offer variety and convenience but little guidance — it’s impersonal and uninspiring.
But then there are a handful of wonderful specialty wine shops where you can chat with passionate staff, expand your knowledge and challenge your palate with unusual and intriguing selections. If you enjoy going to wine stores where the experience is edifying and enhances your love of vino, head to these unique boutiques.
La Cabane Wine Cellar
Unwaveringly focused on natural and biodynamic wines, this stairside shop carries around 700 references from both New and Old World producers that tend to be small and artisanal. The knowledgeable staff can extol the virtues of unfiltered, additive-free wines before recommending funky skin contact wines and bottles of Pét Nat. Unfortunately the biweekly tasting events ceased in mid-March and have yet to resume, but buying one of their curated wine boxes is a smart way to sample unfamiliar styles and vineyards from the comfort of home.
La Cabane Wine Cellar, 10 Shing Hing Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2517 0816
A temple to one of the world’s great winemaking regions, this sophisticated shop houses a selection of more than a thousand wines and access to an inventory of over 6,000 labels — one of Hong Kong’s biggest Burgundy wine collections if not the biggest. Don’t worry if you’re not an expert on this wine region’s geography, however, because the shelves are organised by appellations, from all-important Côte de Nuits and Côte de Beaune to Chassagne-Montrachet, Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet and beyond.
Burgundy etc, Shop 108, 1/F, Central Building, 1-3 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2812 2009
Billing itself as a “wine library,” this utterly charming and cosy shop carries more than a thousand French labels and is run by the third generation of a wine-loving family. The idea is that, similar to pulling a book from a shelf, you can pick up any bottle of wine here and learn something from owner Martin Perino and his talented team. Come for the reasonably priced wines — the markup here is two times rather than the typical three to five times found in most retail outlets — and stay for the welcoming, non-pretentious vibe, which spills out onto a lovely little terrace in the back.
Premier Cru, 15 High Street, Sai Ying Pun, Hong Kong, +852 9522 5267
Deepen your knowledge of Australian winemaking at this shop specialising in organic, biodynamic and small-batch wines from Down Under. Linked to a Melbourne-based exporter that mainly sources bottles from the Victoria region and passes its knowledge on to the Hong Kong team, this stairside boutique is the perfect place to learn more about the differences between wine from the Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, Beechworth and beyond. The selection changes regularly, so you’re bound to find something new each time you go back.
Oz Terroirs, 2 Mee Lun Street, Central, Hong Kong, +852 6147 0460
Helmed by Olivia Lee, a trained sommelier with a diploma from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, this store celebrates innovation and the craft of winemaking while featuring labels that can’t be found anywhere else in Hong Kong. The shelves are stocked with small-batch bottles sourced from top-notch artisanal producers across France, including female winemakers, a relative rarity in the industry. The team here can tell you the story behind any bottle of wine, so ask away or learn more during one of their regular tastings and workshops.
Penticton, The Mills, Shop 121, 45 Pak Tin Par St, Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong, +852 2111 2621
Is there a reason you’re not drinking more Riesling? If it’s because you’re only frequenting stores focused on countries like France, Italy and Spain, then it’s time to explore the wonderful wines of Germany, Austria and Switzerland at this shop, which has a sister location in Quarry Bay. These countries are most often associated with white wines, but you’ll find reds, roses and even sparkling wines on the shelves of this well-stocked shop, so be adventurous and your palate will be rewarded.
Schmidt Vinothek, Yuk Sing Building, 1-9 Yuk Sau St, Happy Valley, Hong Kong, +852 2838 2818
With a name that means ‘the empress,’ you might expect this handsome shop to only sell wines priced for royalty. Fortunately that’s not the case, but the well-curated selection is very fine indeed, with a primary focus on up-and-coming producers employing organic or biodynamic techniques, as well as outstanding examples of traditional winemakers. This is a great place to expand your knowledge of under-appreciated French wine regions such as Jura, Savoie and Languedoc-Roussillon, in addition to artisanal grower Champagnes.
L’Imperatrice, 56 Hollywood Road, Central, Hong Kong, +852 5345 3582
Avize Wine Cellar
There’s much more to the world of Champagne than Krug, Dom Pérignon and Veuve Clicquot, as you’ll learn firsthand at this shop specialising in labels from the world’s most famous sparkling wine region. Yes, you can find those big names here (including hard-to-find vintages from past decades), but take advantage of the overwhelming variety to try something new. Whether you’re looking for a bottle that costs less than HK$500 or more than HK$15,000, you’re sure to find a sparkler that suits your taste here.
Avize Wine Cellar, G/F, 17 Moreton Terrace, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2567 0883