Simon Berry has an offer you can't refuse. Give him $1,000 and he will let you buy his wine. If such a notion appears outrageous, the amiable seventh-generation member of a famous family of London wine merchants has a persuasive explanation. For that up-front fee, you join the Berry Brothers and Rudd Fine Wine Club. This has been formed to service the extensive customer base they already have in Hong Kong. For that $1,000, members can attend monthly wine classes and tastings, sipping the elegant wines for which the company has been known for 301 years. In addition to the famous black-painted facade of its three-century-old shop and cellar in St James, Berry Brothers and Rudd operates a hugely successful outlet at Heathrow Airport. It is largely from Hong Kongers ordering cases of wine as they boarded their planes that the idea came to open an office here. Mr Berry says the Asian wine market is like London in the last years of Queen Victoria. It's becoming a lot more sophisticated. Queen Vic used to sip hock with seltzer, a popular drink in its day, he says. Mr Berry and wine club director of sales Nicholas Pegna say they seek to supply good wine and persuade people to like it. Mr Pegna (fax: 2114-0996) will conduct regular educational tastings of up to a dozen wines. 'I don't think you should talk to people about wine without giving them something to drink,' he says. One tasting might be a comparison of various shiraz. Another might focus on a specific year, say, 1989. The background and histories of the wines will be explained. Berry Brothers and Rudd have a reputation for reliability as solid as Victoria Peak. They aim to fill the niche between Hong Kong's elite wine outlets, which offer superb wines at high prices, and the supermarkets with their enormous range of affordable wines. Basically, that means the wines Englishmen traditionally love; their list is a Who's Who of Bordeaux, with a passing nod at the remainder of France and a jolly wave to the rest of the world. A noble wine, and let's take the Chateau Beau-Sejour-Becot ($395) as an example, has to be stored properly. If you owned a genuine work of art, would you prop it up in a cupboard? Of course not, Mr Berry says indignantly. Same with a valuable wine. 'We will not let you drink anything unless we know where it's been,' he pronounces, reaching for a glass of fruity Italian white. 'Provenance is vital. You're selling a 25-year-old Bordeaux? Well, where has it been for the past 20 years? 'It's as important to know who has stored the wine as to know who made it. Our reputation is guarded very carefully.' He waves the wine list . . . 'Most of this stuff, we've had in our cellars for years.' Not all the wines on the club list are vastly expensive, although you can order, should you wish, a Chateau Margaux at $2,988.