Header image courtesy of James Suckling Wine Central
Originally published by Inès Fung. Last updated by Beverly Ngai.
Wine bars have been making a comeback in Hong Kong, now with a focus on rare labels, affordability, and sustainability. Wine bars have bloomed around the city like ripe grapes ready for harvest, and we all know it’s not good to keep things bottled up, so check out our picks for the best wine bars in Hong Kong and start making some pour decisions. If you end up ordering a carafe, well, sip happens.
A neighbourhood secret just a few steps away from bustling Stanley Market, Bubbles & Wines feels like a friend’s living room—one which happens to have great champagnes and wine, along with tasty cheeses and charcuterie to pair! Founder Evan Horsman envisioned the wine room as a “home away from home,” where guests can unwind and savour the simple pleasure of superb wine and friendly conversation. Every detail of the intimate space—from the houseplants to the comfy sofas and floral curtains—is designed to make you feel cosy and welcomed.
Matching the atmosphere, the food and drinks menu is equally impressive. With imported Italian cold cuts, 30 kinds of European cheeses, and wines carefully handpicked and sourced from small boutique wineries, diners are spoiled with a world of wine pairing combinations!
Bubbles & Wines, 26 Stanley Main Street, Stanley | (+852) 5721 6161
Exclusively serving up artisanal biodynamic wines from small-scale sustainable vineyards, La Cabane stands out from the sea of boozy bistros for its environmental consciousness and true French passion. If you’re unsure of what biodynamic wines are, they are wines made employing biodynamic methods during both growth and harvest to produce unfiltered and unrefined wines with low or no addition of sulphur dioxide. You’ll find the wines at La Cabane to be light to medium body, fresh and fruity.
Stepping into La Cabane feels like stepping into an intimate bistro off the streets of Paris. The staff are knowledgeable and welcoming, and the food is a charming blend of Chinese and French flavours made from exclusively imported fine ingredients from producers all over the world. There’s no service charge or bookings here, so come early and get stuck into some fresh wines and a killer charcuterie board, and be sure to tip well. Want to take some natural or biodynamic wines home? Order your favourites off their website or at their cellar down the road.
La Cabane Wine Bistro, 62 Hollywood Road, Central | (+852) 2776 6070
Shady Acres has taken Soho by storm with their impressive boutique wine list, deceptively stiff drinks, and convivial vibes every night. The owners Ryan Nightingale and Mike Watt are both seasoned mixologists and Hong Kong nightlife veterans, and since great minds drink alike, Shady Acres was born with a focus on global wines from the old world and new and pop culture references.
Wines at Shady Acres are imported based on their dynamic terroirs, and there’s no need to be intimidated by the wealth of diversity. You can expect a handpicked shortlist of more than 20 by-the-glass options, as well as cellar access to hundreds of unique bottles.
There are more than just your basic Pinots here, with varietals divided by flavour profile and terroir, spanning from Aussie-made Italians to Pétillant Naturels (a natural sparkling wine made with pre-Champagne methods). There’s even a whole page dedicated to just Rieslings, and the whole list changes from time to time, so you’ll always discover something new. The special ‘break-even bottles’ are a good choice when you can’t make up your mind, and they are limited to one glass per guest.
The food at Shady Acres is also notable, with bar snacks like eggplant tacos ($70) with pumpkin and capsicum salsa and hearty plates like the Impossible cheeseburger ($125) to help keep you going. On the right side of the bar is also a library of wines available for retail.
Now for the bad news: Shady Acres is strictly no reservations. On a good night, you’ll find the crowd spilling out on the entirety of Peel Street. The good news is that Shady Acres provides a great bang for your buck as well, as not one, but two happy hours take place here (5 pm to 7 pm and 11 pm to 1 am), so come early and come often.
Shady Acres, 46 Peel Street, Central | (+852) 9176 7500
Co-founded by world-class barista champion Scottie Callaghan, Fineprint brings a taste of the laid-back Aussie lifestyle to Hong Kong. It’s a great cafe for a solid cuppa and brekkie (their homemade sourdough is pretty close to perfect) during the day, but as night falls, Fineprint offers a curated wine, beer, and liquor list to get the party started.
Wine is available by the glass or bottle at affordable prices, featuring reds and whites from Australia, France, South Africa, Italy, and Spain. In addition, there’s a smaller selection of sparkling, rose, and dessert wines if you’re thirsty for something sweeter.
Check out the specials board for more seasonal options, and take advantage of their generous happy hour that runs from 4 pm to 8 pm on Mondays to Saturdays. Sometimes, Fineprint will even host your favourite winemakers too, so wine not stop by? The Peel Street location has a perch perfect for people-watching, while the more spacious Tai Hang location is perfect for a chill wine-down with your mates.
Sommeliers Romain Loroit and Jean-Benoit Issele met when they were both out sipping wine one night, and they’ve been inseparable ever since. One might even call them… partners-in-wine. After their respective stints working for Alain Ducasse and Black Sheep’s Belon, Loroit and Issele saw a gap in the market for a serious-but-affordable wine bar and decided to combine their discerning palates to create ThinkWine.
A classy French joint filled with plush velvet seats and art and decor graciously donated by the owner’s families, ThinkWine may look cosy, but they mean business. Stocking over 600 types of wines with an emphasis on unique varieties and rare finds, you are spoiled for choice, especially if you love bottles from the Burgundy and Languedoc-Roussilon regions of France.
Wines by the glass start at $60, with a good majority of bottles priced under $500 and $1,000 as well. Loroit and Issele can usually be found behind the bar, so you’ll have suggestions straight from the experts.
Unlike its counterparts, ThinkWine accepts reservations if you have a group of four or more! As an aside, if you ask nicely, you might even get to sneak a peek at the gorgeous handmade wooden wine cellar that houses ThinkWine’s 3,000-plus bottle collection.
ThinkWine, 2/F, LL Tower, 2 Shelley Street, Central | (+852) 2886 3121
Le Quinze Vins is a wine shop and bar that’s made a comfortable home in Hong Kong, with three shops that feel like they’ve been transported directly from Paris. As a stalwart for the wine lovers in our city, you’ll find the cosy brasserie-inspired locations packed to the rafters on any weekend.
Le Quinze Vins has a comprehensive wine list of over 1,000 French wines, ranging from the basics to legendary vintages. You’re highly encouraged to sample the more serious wines by the bottle, which are decanted for your enjoyment. Don’t worry, you can still sip with LQV even if you’re not an aficionado, as there are about a dozen wines offered by the glass from $90 to $130.
There’s bound to be a bottle at LQV to suit every palate, with a concentration on the famed Burgundy and Languedoc regions, as well as indie French producers. Wines are served in their appropriate glasses, which elevates the sommelier experience to the next level. Book in advance if you want a table, as not only does LQV have an astounding wine list, they also have the most decadent cheese selection and excellent oyster night deal on this side of the island. There’s no wine left behind.
James Suckling Wine Central was founded by and named after Asia’s foremost international wine critic, James Suckling. Its wine showroom and restaurant stands out amongst the wine bars in Hong Kong for serving an exclusive list of wines that have been rated 90 points and above.
Presenting probably the most innovative wine program in Hong Kong, an abundant offering of nearly 300 wines by the glass can be found here. Daily tastings and regional wine highlight events (like Great Wines of the World) are hosted by expert somms and sometimes even Suckling himself.
There are also over 500 references by the bottle from around the world, with an emphasis on Italy, in addition to Bordeaux and Port. Those who are looking for something more particular can dive into the ‘cellar selection’, comprised of wines from Suckling’s private cellar in Tuscany.
Connoisseurs will adore the 100-point list that features only the wines that Suckling has rated a perfect score during his four-decade career as a revered wine critic. Those with an appreciation for detail will delight in the glassware as well: customised Lalique stemware bearing the James Suckling name, as part of an exclusive collaboration with the famous French crystal maker.
Suckling’s wife Marie and business partner Francesco Lee of Moyo are both Korean, and Suckling reckons Korean cuisine pairs wonderfully with the great wines of the world. Tuck into authentic Korean fine dining from a kitchen helmed by the former head chef at Jinjuu London.
James Suckling Wine Central, 2/F, 22 Staunton Street, Central | (+852) 2539 7999