Find out more about J.C. Viens, a wine educator from Hong Kong who joins Decanter's judging panel for the fifthAsia Wine Awards taking place in September.

Biography:

A gourmand and a storyteller, JC is deeply passionate about wine and other pleasures of the table. Always looking for quirky and unusual wines, he regularly travels to various wine regions around the world to meet the people behind the labels.

A WSET Approved Program Provider, he is also a Vinitaly Academy Italian Wine Ambassador. Creator and host to a popular wine course “How To Taste Like A Pro”, he holds regular classes on wine tasting techniques and on Italy.

Interview:

Tell us a little about yourself – Where are you based and where do you work?
I have been living and working in Hong Kong for twenty years and I host regular wine workshops as well as WSET classes at Berry Bros & Rudd’s Hong Kong Fine Wine Center, as well as privately to friends and corporations in Hong Kong and China.

How did you first become interested in wine?
I have always liked wine but it was when I first met my wife’s family in Italy that I really caught the bug. I will always remember the dinner when her brother and cousin introduced me to an incredible diversity of flavours and taught me how to appreciate them the Italian way.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a wine educator?
That no matter how complicated it all seems, wine is really about pleasure. The more one learns about it, the more hedonistic the experience of wine becomes.

Is there a person or producer you particularly admire within the wine industry?
As a wine educator, I was particularly influenced by Pierre Casamayor. His book ‘How to Taste’ was a godsend when I was preparing for my WSET Diploma practical exam. Now, for my MW studies, I consult most of his books on a regular basis.

Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment?
As it is hot and humid right now in Hong Kong, there are two bottles open in my fridge: Les Crêtes Chardonnay 2009 and Venica Sauvignon, Collio Ronco delle Mele 2011 – both lip-smacking and refreshing!

What are your favourite food and wine combinations?
Moscato D’Asti paired with the famous Pavlova at M-on-The-Bund in Shanghai. I have a sweet tooth.

Who was your most memorable customer, and why?
I love it when workshops are full of interactions with and amongst the participants. One in particular was a tutored tasting I led with Fabien Henry from Champagne Besserat de Bellefon to prepare candidates for an upcoming WSET Diploma exam. The participants were all so much into the ‘zone’ that it lasted double the amount of time we had planned for it to take. It was a fascinating learning experience!

Is there a strong wine scene in your city?

Hong Kong has a super exciting wine vibration at the moment. So many people are curious and want to learn. There is no place in the world I would rather be.

Have you noticed any new trends emerging? What are customers asking for at the moment?
Everyone is talking about how Burgundy seems to be taking momentum over Bordeaux. However for me, I have noticed a firm and steady increase of interest for Italian wines of all kinds and I would not be surprised to see statistics next year showing a serious spike in popularity for these wines.

Finally, what are you looking forward to most about judging at the Decanter Asia Wine Awards?
To taste alongside an amazing group of judges and gain first-hand insights from wine legends such as Steven Spurrier, Jeannie Cho-Lee, Gerard Basset and Andrew Jefford.

Written by Decanter