With Decanter's first Asia Wine Awards taking place in September, find out more about new judge Claudio Salgado, the hotel manager of the Grand Hyatt Macau.
Tell us a little about yourself – Where are you based and where do you work?
I live in Hong Kong and work in Macau, as Hotel Manager of the Grand Hyatt Macau. I have been with Hyatt Hotels Corporation for the last 18 years.
How did you first become interested in wine?
My interest for wine started at home, as my father was a ‘bon vivant’ and a passionate of good eating and drinking. As good wines were not easily accessible in Brazil in those days, it was only later, when I was studying at the Lausanne Hotel School in Switzerland, that I was able to learn more about wines and to really start developing my tasting skills.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a sommelier?
Listening skills. A good sommelier must also be a good psychologist!
Is there a person or producer you particularly admire within the wine industry?
Jean-Michel Cazes, of Château Lynch-Bages, who inspired me and welcomed me into the Commanderie du Bontemps at a very young age.
Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment?
Being responsible for the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne in Greater China gives me a good excuse to regularly drink Champagne at home. I have been exploring several small, lesser known, grower Champagnes. The selection available in Hong Kong nowadays is amazing and prices are also very competitive, making it easy to drink well.
What are your favourite food and wine combinations?
Peking duck with Pinot Noir and scallops tartare with Blanc de Blancs Champagne.
Who was your most memorable customer, and why?
When I opened the mezza9 restaurant at Grand Hyatt Singapore in 1998, at the beginning of the wine boom in Asia, our customers were very eager to discover new wines and open to new experiences. Those were very exciting times to be on the floor and recommend wines.
Is there a strong wine scene in your city?
Absolutely! Hong Kong is perhaps the most dynamic place on earth these days when it comes to wine.
Have you noticed any new trends emerging? What are customers asking for at the moment?
With the level of sophistication we have reached in Hong Kong, wine drinkers are keen to venture out of their usual comfort zone and explore lesser known appellations and different grape varieties. Consumption of white wine is growing.
Finally, what are you looking forward to most about judging at the Decanter Asia Wine Awards?
Sharing experience and information with other judges and hopefully be surprised by the quality of the wines participating in the competition.
Written by Decanter