Ask the Foodie: Jordan Choy
Jordan Choy is a wine writer and educator and a restaurant consultant, but has one eye on a Master of Wine certification. He's part way through a diploma course that could lead to that credential. With an accreditation from a body run by Bordeaux winemakers - the Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux (CIVB) - he's also a recognised lecturer. Only three accreditations were awarded out of more than 100 applicants that year. How did your interest in wine begin?
I was seven, and my father would occasionally cook a steak, which he'd match with some red wine that he'd bought from the supermarket. The wine he gave me to try was a Spanish wine that you can still buy today. It had a little bull on the outside of the bottle. An early job was as a food and wine journalist, which further piqued my interest. But back then I was more interested in the stories behind the wine rather than the taste of the wine itself. It was a course in Bordeaux that led you into teaching
In 2009, I was lucky enough that the CIVB invited me to take the L'école du Vin de Bordeaux exam, because the school doesn't accept just anyone. It picks the students to become wine educators, not the other way around.
The prize was spending one week at the school in Bordeaux. They took me to visit different wineries and wine regions, and I was given some wine theory instruction. After I earned the accredited lecturer diploma, I returned to Hong Kong and started teaching.
What's next for you?
I will continue studying. At the moment, I am studying for the WSET [Wine and Spirit Education Trust] diploma, which is an internationally recognised course. A person is eligible after they have finished levels one, two and three of the WSET. It will take two years if I pass all of the exams on the first go. But, it could take three to four years. It's a distance learning course, though there are some classroom courses in Hong Kong.
After you get the WSET diploma, you can go for the Master of Wine. But there are only about 300 of them in the world. The exams are really difficult. You have to know about chemistry, soil, how to plant, vinification ... it's very technical. It's also expensive to do - not the exam, but all of the plane tickets to travel around which are extra, and the many wines you have to taste. Language is also very important for the Master of Wine. You have to be very good at English.
As wine becomes more popular, will local eating places such as cha chaan teng serve alcohol in the future?
Most don't serve alcohol and won't because it requires a licence. It's not expensive to get, but it is troublesome as there are a lot of requirements. One is that you have to close at a certain hour, as police are afraid of unrest if people have been drinking. People who want to drink would rather go to a bar.
What's in your wine refrigerator? I have a lot of different wines - French, Spanish, German - and a lot of champagne. I drink everything, but not every day. I like to drink with food.