Hong Kong may not have vineyards of its own, but everyone from casual quaffers to serious oenophiles have an increasing number of wine-tasting events and venues where they can gain a greater appreciation of the best drops the world has to offer. Since the wine tax was scrapped in 2008, not only has the city become one of the world's top fine-wine auction hubs, but - with heightened publicity around wine and an increase in the number of suppliers in town - its general popularity seems to have soared. There is also the perception that, with more choices available, Hong Kong wine lovers' palates are becoming increasingly sophisticated. 'A lot of wine started coming into Hong Kong and everybody wanted to get into the wine business,' says Casey Lau, who last year co-founded winebuzz.hk, a site that features a calendar of wine-related events and information on the Hong Kong wine scene. Hong Kong now even has its very own winery. The 8th Estate Winery in Ap Lei Chau opened its doors in late 2008. Its aim is simple: to source 'incredibly high-quality grapes' from around the world - which have so far included Italy, Australia and the US - and make fine wine, says its Canadian founder, Lysanne Tusar. The grapes are flash-frozen and shipped to Hong Kong, where they thaw and are left to age in French and American oak barrels. The winery holds semi-regular wine parties in its main barrel room and outdoor terrace - where patrons can also drink in a stunning view of the ocean - and guided tastings on Saturday afternoons (bookings required on 2518 0922). Many bars in town provide the opportunity to explore wines in relaxed, casual settings. Tastings Wine Bar in Central (tel: 2523 6282), Den Wine Bar in Wan Chai (tel: 2838 9022) and the Sky Lounge at the Sheraton in Tsim Tsa Tsui (tel: 2732 6909) each offer wines dispensed from Italian Enomatic machines in 25ml, 75ml and 150ml portions. The machines stop oxidation in opened bottles, keeping the wine fresh for up to three weeks, and provide access to dozens of wines at the push of a button. Tastings portions start at HK$9 at Den Wine Bar, which opened last month, and HK$17 at Tastings and the Sky Lounge, which have used Enomatics since mid-2008. Full-glass portions range from HK$50 to HK$90. Sky Lounge also features a wine room with access to more than 500 wines. Beyond tastings, some of the top restaurants in town have sommeliers who can help you pair wines with fine cuisine. Many hold wine dinners hosted by winemakers. With more than 3,000 labels, Michelin two-star L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Landmark, Central, claims to have the most extensive list in town. Cepage, in Wan Chai, has more than 2,300 wines and its sommelier, Gon Leung Chi-hang, is confident it has the 'best Burgundy in town'. The head sommelier of Michelin one-star Petrus, at the Island Shangri-La, Nicolas Pierron, says that while the restaurant's 1,800-plus wine list is naturally strong on Petrus vintages, they have some nice wines from smaller wineries for under HK$1,000. Amber at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Central (tel: 2132 0066) offers more than 1,100 wines and weekend wine lunches featuring cuisine from Michelin two-star chef Richard Ekkebus and wine selected by its new top sommelier, Herve Pennequin. French sommelier Benoit Allauzen, who joined L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in April last year, says Hong Kong is 'the place to be [for wine]. In Europe, they are drinking less, and in Asia, they are drinking more. The big names, the great vintages, are being sold in Asia,' says Allauzen.