“The food chooses the wine.”
A prestigious wine program at a fine dining Chinese restaurant used to be almost unheard of. When Wine Buyer Christine Parkinson began her journey with Hakkasan Group she had concerns, not knowing if guests would acquire a taste for wine, and more specifically premium wines, whilst enjoying the restaurant’s cuisine.
In 2001 Parkinson joined Hakkasan Group, determined to find the best products. On this journey she found that guests responded well to pairing the Chinese fare with premium wines. Now, more than 10 years later, Hakkasan features nearly 400 wines as part of its extensive wine program.
Parkinson soon discovered that there was no one body of knowledge in existence that spoke with authority about the rules of wine and how to pair it with Chinese cuisine. Inspired by this opportunity for innovation Parkinson set her own rules and standards, which later turned into the ethos of Hakkasan’s wine program. Her rules were simple – each product had to be excellent quality and work well with the cuisine. From here, Hakkasan’s wine program was born.
Since its inception, Hakkasan’s wine program has set a standard for the classification and selection of wines used. With wines categorised under “Curious Vines: distinctive wines”, “Genius without a Château: the new classics” and “Spiritual Wines”, guests are given a look into why these wines were selected. For example, “spiritual wines” signifies the biodynamic production of the wine, reflecting how the vines are treated during the harvesting process.
Hakkasan employs what is known as the “Tuesday Tasting” where all sommeliers gather to taste current and potential wines accompanied by items from the dinner menu, to ensure a harmonious tasting experience. Tuesday Tastings have become ritual for Hakkasan, taking place at each restaurant. The tasting process is extensive, as each sommelier’s perspective is taken into account and used to formulate the ultimate decision about each wine. During this process, the theory of “The food chooses the wine” takes precedence.
Although the selection process for Hakkasan’s wine program is an extensive one, the goal is quite simple – find wines that work well for guests. Christine Parkinson, who herself has been named “one of the most creative wine buyers in the UK,” by Jancis Robinson MW on her Purple Pages, is confident that guests will have a remarkable experience no matter which wine they choose, for the simple reason that each and every wine offered goes exceptionally well with Hakkasan’s Chinese cuisine.