Tell us about the moment you first became interested in wine
For me, it wasn’t some eureka moment. I just fell into the wine world. I joined The Witchery by the Castle in Edinburgh, which has an extensive wine list. I hadn’t thought about wine until then, but seeing the wine team’s passion and level of interest, I fell in love with it. My mother is from Southern India, so cooking, flavour and texture have always been a big part of my life. I was fortunate to be able to turn this towards the world of wine.
Tell us about your wine list at A Wong
I look for versatility over anything else. The cooking and eating style are focused on sharing lots of dishes, so you have an array of flavours, textures, spice levels, and acidity. I look for wines that play a part in this and really bring out the flavours of the dishes.
Over the course of your career, have you had any wine-related disasters?
Oh yes, I have. Dropping a double magnum of Roda 1 Rioja. The sheer amount of liquid looked like a horror scene on the cellar floor.
Name your top three restaurant wine lists
I often find that the sommelier or front of house’s passion can contribute far more to an overall experience than just the wines on offer. However, Noble Rot always has exceptional wines, and Remedy (in Fitzrovia) also has a great offering from Coravin.
Who do you most respect in the wine world?
Winemakers who go against the grain and tradition.
What’s the most interesting wine you’ve ever come across?
So many, the list changes daily. One that stands out is Nicolas Joly, Clos de la Coulee de Serrant (from the Loire). I remember trying an older vintage and being stunned, trying to understand what I was tasting.
What are the three most overused tasting notes?
Structure, mineral, elegant. These terms have a place, but I am tired of hearing these words thrown about at restaurants or tastings without any context whatsoever.
What’s the best value wine on your list at the moment?
Lots! I try to have an alternative to the expensive appellations. For instance, if you like white burgundy but don’t want to pay the hefty price tag, I strive to have other options that suit your budget and palate. Value for money is essential.
What is your ultimate food and drink match?
Dim sum and kabinett riesling.
Old World or New World?
What is your pet hate when it comes to wine service in other restaurants?
Constant upselling, which I think is counter-productive to a sommeliers job and often taints our profession.
Who is your favourite producer at the moment, and why?
Not a wine producer but a brewery. The Wild Beer Co. is based down in Somerset and is making some exciting beers. They are a great fit at A Wong. We use them at lunch for our ‘Touching the Heart’ dim sum menu as part of the beverage flight. It’s good to challenge preconceptions about what pairs well with Chinese food, particularly dim sum, as there’s so many different flavours, textures and mouthfeels.
Which wine producing region/country is currently underrated at the moment and why?
I think South Africa is sometimes viewed as a producer of cheap bulk wine. In reality, there are more producers pushing boundaries and championing innovation there than ever before.
It’s your last meal, and you can have a bottle of any wine in the world. What is it, and why?
Screaming Eagle. It is one of America’s most coveted and highly-priced wines and one that I have never tried. One day...