Grapevines and wine country usually go hand in hand, but Hong Kong is not your average wine destination. What it lacks in viticulture, the city makes up for in lifestyle: You can drink your apéritif in a cozy neighborhood bar, uncork a precious Barolo in a sky-high, five-star hotel or bring your own bottle to a cha chaan teng (tea restaurant) to pair with food—dim sum with Dom Pérignon, anyone? Beyond the glass, you’ll discover the compact, jagged landscape that necessitates Hong Kong’s high-rise urbanism. It’s natural beauty parenthesized by a glittering cityscape. —Debra Meiburg, MW
Where To Dine
Hong Kong’s signature cuisine, dim sum, can be served hot from mobile trolleys or haute with harbor views. Lee House Restaurant is famous for dim sum with a twist, utilizing non-traditional ingredients or cooking techniques. For fresh, modern French cuisine coupled with a constantly updated wine list, go “backstage” in the Wan Chai market district for a Michelin-starred meal at Serge et le Phoque. Craving escapism? Journey to Ting Kau Village and enjoy farm-to-table fusion at Margaret Xu Yuan’s beachside kitchen, Yin Yang Coastal.
Where To Stay
Hong Kong is the spiritual home of the Mandarin Oriental, whose flagship property opened in 1963. Clipper Lounge serves a wonderful afternoon tea, and the hotel’s luxurious pillows are the perfect antidote to the city’s frenetic pace. At The Upper House, famous for Café Gray Bar’s wine list, marvel at the subtle opulence achieved. Across Victoria Harbour in Tsim Sha Tsui (TST), Hullet House nods to Hong Kong’s colonial past. The quirky interior design at nearby Mira Moon celebrates the Moon Festival, its harbor view aglow from Hong Kong’s skyline.
Hong Kong’s futuristic sky-scrapers might form cinematic backdrops to dystopian fantasy films, but the country’s private side is far more idyllic. Experienced hikers will enjoy the Pat Sin Leng Nature Trail, with views of Plover Cove Reservoir. If half a day in Hong Kong’s heat seems overwhelming, Lantau and Lamma Islands offer leisurely walks with cooling breezes.
Hong Kong is well connected by affordable transportation. Take MTR public transit to see Victoria Harbour up close on the Star Ferry. You can also ride a double-decker bus to Stanley (opt for the top deck, front-right seat for the best views) to shop for local arts, crafts and souvenirs.
Where To Taste
As recently as a decade ago, Hong Kong’s wine lists spoke only French. Today, they match the city’s multiculturalism, though a love of French bottles still runs deep. Neighborhood bar Le Quinze Vins serves an excellent selection of bio-dynamic and boutique wines. At La Cabane Wine Bistro, patrons enjoy natural wines in a cozy setting alongside France’s other popular export, cheese. AnOther Place has a no-corkage policy and stellar global-wine list complemented by a French-Asian menu designed by Michelin-starred Chef David Myers. Fancy an extravagant nightcap? Head to ultrachic Mizunara: The Library for 150 Japanese whiskies and a lavish cocktail list in an intimate Ginza-esque lounge. At Saké Central, Elliot Faber’s new bar in the reinvented Police Married Quarters (PMQ), rare sakés and whiskies are served in delicate glassware and ceramics alongside otsumami (snacks).
When To Go
Visit in April or November, when you can enjoy a walk along Hong Kong’s streets and trails without fear of melting into them.
If Hong Kong had a “national wine,” it would be red Bordeaux—it’s near impossible to find a wine list without substantial listings from France’s iconic winegrowing region. Other big players include robust Australian reds, Chianti and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Token wines from key regions like Rioja, California, South Africa and Argentina also feature regularly. Few wine lists, except those in Michelin three-starred restaurants, contain exciting off-beat wines popular in other city markets, but talk up the right sommelier and you might score a sip of Austrian, Georgian or award-winning Chinese wine, like one from Grace Vineyard.
Local in the Know
When she’s not exploring the eclectic mix of galleries, restaurants, cafés and bars that line Ship Street and the Starstreet Precinct of Hong Kong, Anty Fung, general manager at Hip Cellar and AnOther Place, takes a hike from the city’s frenetic pace. “My perfect HK day starts with a breakfast of buttered pineapple bun, followed by a section of the MacLehose Trail,” says Fung. “Post-hike, I might chillax in the evening with a good traditional Chinese massage and cupping therapy.”