Grape expectations

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 October, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 October, 2003, 12:00am

Here is a pick of the best places in Hong Kong to kick back and relax with a decent glass of wine:

Annexx (4/F California Entertainment Building, 34 -36 D'Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central, 2877 9779). Inspired by the lifestyle of the rich and famous in Hudson Valley, New York, this venue serves fine food on fine china. Happily, there is also a separate bar area for tasting fine wines. An extensive selection is served in three sizes: taster, glass and bottle. Wines include those made from better-known grapes, such as sauvignon blanc and shiraz, as well as lesser-known grapes like white zinfandel and sangiovese.

Boca (65 Peel Street, SoHo, 2548 1717). This is definitely one of the best people-watching spots in town, and it doesn't hurt that it has an extensive wine list with a selection of traditional and non-traditional tapas to go with it. Try to book a table by the entrance and sip a glass of Freixenet Cava as you watch the world go by.

Cafe Deco (L1-2, Peak Galleria, 118 Peak Road, The Peak, 2849 5111). There are so many things to remember about this restaurant - great location, great view and great food - that people forget the fact that there is a nice bar area with live music here as well. The wine list is extensive, with choices listed by the region and many by-the-glass options. There is also a premium wine selection that tops with an Opus One 1998-99.

DiVino Wine Bar & Restaurant (73 Wyndham Street, Central, 2167 8883). Having been around no more than a year, this venue has already established itself as one of the city's favourite wine bars. Given DiVino's Italian connection, many of the choices are, not surprisingly, from Italy, spanning regions including Piedmonte, Umbria and Sardinia. The New World is also well covered on the wine list. The antipasto make for a perfect complement to the wines.

The Wine Bar - Felix (28/F The Peninsula, Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2315-3188). Yes, the divine fish dishes by Chef Dee Ann Tsurumaki, the commanding view and the Philippe Starck-designed interior are all good reasons to come here, but so is the wine bar. This wine connoisseur's corner features the hotel's biblical wine list, which goes on for pages, starting from a white Bordeaux for $300 a bottle to a $110,000 Chateau Petrus (Cru Exceptionnel Magnum) 1961 from the Peninsula Collection. And what better time than now to take hold of that bottle as the prestigious hotel celebrates its 75th anniversary by offering restaurant customers a 25 per cent discount on their bills until the end of the year.

La Bodega (42 D'Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central, 2524 7790). A new addition to the Fong, La Bodega is the kind of place where you sit on high stools and shoot the breeze with friends over tapas and wine. Eleven of the 32 choices are available by the glass, and they include Chilean cabernet sauvignon and Italian pinot grigio. The fried olives in chorizo crust with romesco are an imperative.

The Mezz (Shop M20-M28, Prince's Building, Central, 2523 8989). A popular happy-hour watering hole among the Central office clones, the bar area of this restaurant serves up funky bar snacks to go with its small but adequate wine-by-the-glass list. Try the Wyndham Estate shiraz with the five-flavoured spiced pork belly and sticky chilli caramel. And if there are more than three of you, why not open a bottle from the 33-strong wine list?

One Bar and Grill (L4 One Exchange Square, 8 Connaught Road, Central, 2522 2246). Besides being a good restaurant, this venue, featuring a separate bar area, is also a good place to visit for an antidotal wining session. The wine list has just been revamped, and it features the best of regions, such as riesling from Alsace and South Australia, pinot noir from New Zealand and Tasmania, and classic dry whites from Western Australia.

Oyster and Wine Bar (18/F Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel and Towers, 20 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2973 6611). Oysters and wine, especially white and sparkling, are a perfect match, and this restaurant makes an example of it. Take a seat at the oyster bar and watch the action while slurping freshly shucked molluscs with your favourite vintage. That's what we call happy hour.

Tapas Bar (LL Kowloon Shangri-La, 64 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, 2733 8756). Boasting a list of more than 30 New World wines from nine countries and with 40 of them available by the glass, this glass-enclosed hangout is definitely the place to be for wine lovers, novice or old hand. The globalised tapas menu serves up both traditional and innovative nibbles. Full coverage of the Rugby World Cup matches will be broadcast here until November 22.