Wallace Lo is the Head Sommelier for the Le Comptoir Group which has a repertoire of Hong Kong’s hottest restaurants (Bibo, Hot Shots, Tri, Ocean, and Cabana) . Young, passionate, and incredibly knowledgeable, Wallace recently won the 1st runner up of best sommelier in Asia Oceania 2015. We investigate what makes this top Somm tick.
What’s the most important aspect of a wine list? Is it breadth, intrigue, diversity…?
Wine is one of the most diverse beverages in the world, and I think that it is our job to show drinkers what is new or has never been seen before and to make it into an experience. So I think no matter how big the wine list is, that is very important to keep it unique and to echo the concept or cooking styles in the food menu. In Hong Kong there are too many wine lists that look the same.
Who else in HK has a great wine list?
One of my favorite wine lists is 121BC. They only have Italian wines and show one of the more interesting sides of wine. It is not about expensive stuff, but about bottles that go with your meal and about being able to taste something that [you can’t find elsewhere]. They have the guts to carry delicious wine that nobody else carries, and you can feel that they are so proud to introduce you to [something new].
What’s the most memorable food and wine pairing you’ve experienced?
One of the most memorable food and wine pairings was in an event called “botrytis forum” in the hotel I used to work for. [The concept was] to put a traditional Cantonese food menu with all kinds of dessert wines. One of the most difficult and interesting pairings was with the vegetable dish in the menu. I paired a Tokaji Szamorodni with a Braised Tianjin Cabbage with Yunnan Ham, and it worked perfectly.
Is there a person or place you look for inspiration when it comes to wine and food pairing? And what pairings have you created recently at Bibo?
I love cooking. Usually when I am trying to do a pairing I will imagine that the flavor profile of the wine is a sauce or ingredient in the dish, and usually it works quite well.
Recently I put a natural wine called Domaine de l’Ecu ‘Mephisto’ which is a Cabernet Franc from Nantes, a Vin de France, with our signature 50 day dry aged Cote de Boeuf.
Originally I thought the wine would be too light with not enough body to pair with such an intense piece of beef, but the energy and the acidity in the wine were so vivid that they amplified the flavors in the beef and made it taste even more complex.
And finally, it’s your last dinner on earth; who’s invited and what are you serving?
I will invite my family and my best friends. I will have my mother as the chef because after working in this industry for so long, the time I treasure the most is dinner time with my family and my girlfriend. And my mum cooks the best!
For wine, who cares!? Since it is my last dinner, just bring the best of the best. I love Barolo, Taurasi, Chianti, Burgundy, lots and lots of good Champagne, and Tokaji to finish with!