Are we drinking more wine in Hong Kong? There seems to be more independently owned wine retailers springing up in the city in the past two years.
The latest one to set foot in Sheung Wan is Leeder Quay. Located on the ground floor of a historical building on Wellington Street, the shop is deep and has a very high ceiling. Wines and spirits are displayed in refrigerators and shelves on both sides. The back of the room has a long table for tastings, separated from the main area by a Chinese wooden screen.
The wines are not cramped together with no space between them but are arranged in a well-thought-out manner on the shelves made from wooden wine boxes. At the corner is a hi-fi system with a turntable and pictures of old Hong Kong as well as the owners. There is a nice open space in the middle, further amplifying the airy feel. Not only is the setting inviting, but Leeder Quay also welcomes guests with an open-door attitude that I really like. Curious shoppers peeking in from the street are likely to be invited inside by the staff to browse around. Most wine shops have closed doors that deter casual shoppers from entering.
The focus of the shop is mainly on wine from South Africa and Italy, but it also stocks craft beers and spirits like mezcal (similar to tequila from Mexico), Jamaican rum, Japanese whisky and gin. Selected wines are available for tasting every day, but there are also more serious regular tasting sessions with winemakers and local sommeliers. The product mix, friendly staff and professional hosts are magnets to wine lovers. I can imagine new visitors quickly becoming regulars. I was recently at the Sheung Wan shop, and a regular customer dropped in for a chat just because he had 15 minutes to spare.
Actually, Leeder Quay is not a complete newcomer to Hong Kong. Its first wine shop is in Mui Wo on Lantau Island just by the pier, which its owner, Solomon, calls a shack. Simple it might be, but it has the same sociable atmosphere that draws people in. It’s a pit stop for beachgoers and hikers and the unofficial bar for the surrounding seafood restaurants. If you can’t make up your mind, you are welcome to taste the wine before you buy it, and there are always chilled sparkling and white wines available. Opened in 2019, the shack quickly became popular, and in 2020, Solomon opened his second Mui Wo shop – Leeder Quay Wine & Liquor Store – with a focus on spirits, mixers and exotic beverages.
Solomon is understated yet passionate and professional, and these attributes are reflected in all three shops – unpretentious and welcoming, with high quality-to-price-ratio products. Leeder Quay is one of the very few wine shops around town that has succeeded in becoming a community store.
When I go to Lantau for a hike, I often try to finish at Mui Wo so that I can chill at Leeder Quay – and probably pick up a case or two of wine (they deliver!). With this new shop, I now have another pit stop in Sheung Wan.
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