With Decanter's first Asia Wine Awards taking place next month, find out more about new judge Ronny Lau, a wine writer based in Hong Kong.
Tell us a little about yourself – Where are you based and where do you work?
I’m a freelance wine writer based in Hong Kong. I started writing wine columns in the 1980s, and I now write for around ten magazines and newspapers in Hong Kong, mainland China and Malaysia. I’m the Chairman of the Greater China Wine Critics Association and the author of five wine books: “In Love with Wine,” “Le Dialogue du Vin ,” “Around the Wine World,” “All About Wine” and “It’s a Wine, Wine World.” My latest project, “Music & Wine – The Perfect Matching,” is a six-CD compilation boxset pairing music with wine. I’m also a tutor for certified wine courses operated by the Hong Kong Vocational Training Centre and Institute for Tourism Studies in Macau.
How did you first become interested in wine?
When I was nine-years-old, my father passed me his wine glass and brought me to an eye-opening new world.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a wine writer?
Wine articles are not for the writer to show how knowledgeable he is, which can drive people away, but rather to evoke his readers’ interest in wine.
Is there a person or producer you particularly admire within the wine industry?
Mario Ercolino from Italy, not only is he the person who brought Campania to the wine map, but also he gave me a chance to produce a wine together with him. It was the most amazing and rewarding experience of my wine career.
Which wines are you drinking at home at the moment?
Wines made by passionate growers and winemakers.
What are your favourite food and wine combinations?
I’m not that into food and wine pairing, I think wine is kind of food, we don’t have to pay too much attention to the pairing. We all have different palates – a person who loves spicy food may not like to taste a sweet wine which neutralises the spiciness of the dish, although spicy food and sweet wine is said to be a good combination.
Is there a strong wine scene in your city?
After the wine tax was abolished in 2008, the wine scene is stronger than ever in Hong Kong – there are major wine auctions every month and wine events almost every day. Hong Kong is now the wine hub of Asia and the gateway to the huge mainland China market as well. Both markets have shown tremendous growth in the past few years and Hong Kong consumes the largest amount of wine in Asia, even more than the Japanese.
Have you noticed any new trends emerging? What are customers asking for at the moment?
More than 80% of wine sold in Hong Kong is red but over the past few years there has been a gradual growth in the sales of white wine. Actually, white is more suitable for the long hot summer in Hong Kong but chilled wine cabinets or ice buckets were not common in restaurants and it prevented the popularity of white wine. The growth in white wine sales means that restaurants are now better equipped with wine accessories and it also reflects that the market has matured.
Finally, what are you looking forward to most about judging at the Decanter Asia Wine Awards?
I was a writer for the Chinese edition of Decanter and I always wanted to see a major event hosted by the magazine in Hong Kong. There are many wine competitions in Hong Kong, but all focus only in this city, however Decanter Asia Wine Awards is one for the whole Asian region so not only is it more important, but also it confirms Hong Kong as Asia’s wine hub. I’m really glad to be taking part in the first Decanter Asia Wine Awards and to have a chance to meet and work with wine experts from Asia and all around the world.
Written by Decanter