Level Up Your Wine Game

By Lynn Yen 2021-05-06 12:36:16

Go beyond the red, the white, and the sparkling.

Whether it's knowing what bottle to bring to a dinner party, sending a gift to a client, or drinking for your own social consumption, you can level up your wine game for all occasions.

I talked with Emilie Steckenborn, wine educator and consultant, to get the pro tips on the wine scene. We walked through her suggestions on where to drink, where to buy, and where to learn about wine. She is an experienced guide having worked in the industry for 10 years and hosts her own podcast “Bottled in China” about the world of food and beverage.


Level 1: Where to Drink

Our guide Emilie recommended these bars and restaurants for kicking back and drinking by the glass. They all have extensive menus and are great places to expand your wine palate.


Bar à Vin

Bar à Vin is an industry insider favourite. It has a bistro- style menu and a buzzing atmosphere. An entire wall is lined with every style of wine you could hope for from Grower Champagne, Champagne grown and produced on the same vineyard, to bottles from interesting and rare wine regions. Make sure to book a week in advance as it gets packed. As a bonus, the owners have bought over the French restaurant Le Saleya and revamped the menu. It’s a good date spot with a Parisian-style setting and intimate atmosphere.

Address: 87 Jiashan Road
Tel: 137 6440 5071
Le Saleya Address: No. 1, Lane 570, Changle Road Le Saleya Tel: 6426 1262



SOiF is focused on the in vogue natural wine, where grapes are grown organically without chemicals like pesticides and no additives like sulfites are used. This is a small and cozy wine spot reminiscent of a Melbourne wine bar and favoured by a hip crowd. Natural wine has taken the Shanghai scene by storm. The wines are rustic, funky, and sometimes a bit wild.

Address: 550 Wuding Road

Tel: 5266 5536



RAC, your favourite brunch spot, also has an amazing wine list. They offer a selection of varied wines from classic growing regions such as France, but also up and coming regions like Austria and even wines from China! Grab a seat outside in the evening and enjoy a good bottle.

Address: 320 Anfu Road

Tel: 136 3659 5172


Le Bec 62 Epicerie & Caviste

The wine bar of the French restaurant group Le Bec is a casual place to shop for wine or to sit down and enjoy a glass. French wines are featured heavily, and if you are looking for something fancier there is a special section in the back.

Address: 62 Xinhua Road

Tel: 131 6646 2624


Level 2: Where to Shop


Wine shopping is tricky. With imported wine, it is important to buy from official distributers for maximum transport condition security.

Emilie use to pack bottles in her luggage but alas, international travel isn’t so easy anymore. But, there are value finds everywhere and with today’s competitive wine trade, prices are nearly as good as abroad.

Here are the places to shop to intrigue even the most experienced wine connoisseur.

EMW Wine Shop on WeChat (EMW- GreaterChina) offers a broad selection and every type of wine. With good service, it’s a good place to start.

Boutique importer Le Sommelier often supplies the bars and restaurants previously mentioned and they always have excellent flash deals. Make sure to follow their WeChat (le-sommelier) to buy delicious wines for under 100 RMB.

For fans of Burgundy or Champagne, Muyi (L’Imperatrice) is the place to go for fine, expensive wines. Follow their WeChat (Imperatricewine). The online store has French wines sorted by region. You can also get in contact with their direct to consumer sales.


Pudao Wines has locations at Shankang Courtyard and Ferguson Lane. Pudao is the retail arm of importer Summergate Fine Wines & Spirits. They have their own brands but also source from other importers. Follow their WeChat (Pudao_Wines) to see featured specials or hop over to the wine bar and grab a bottle to go.

Jiu Yun Wang (wineyun) is Emilie’s secret. She has bought nearly 180 bottles last year. The shop does flash sales on old vintages, rare producers, and high-end Bordeaux Grand Cru Classe. The downside is the app is in Chinese, and you could wait anywhere from one week to a few months to receive your wine. If you are patient, this is the ultimate online wine spot as the selection changes daily. It’s also a source of resentment for brands and sellers in the trade because they price the wine so low. But hey, good for you!

Also, Shanghai has convenient one-hour delivery from platforms like DrinKuaidi, FirstCellars, and Epermarket.

Level 3: Where to Learn

Start learning about the science behind winemaking and you will begin to see why so many people are fanatics. Hone your skills to blind taste and pinpoint the grape variety, region, vintage (year), all the way down to the grower.

For in-person learning, Pudao stores offer regular seminars and tasting events run by the Summergate team. The environment is fun, enjoyable, and social.

Grapea (grapeainstitute) is for the true wine nerd with quality instruction. Classes are generally in Mandarin.

Dragon Phoenix Wine Consulting (DPputaojiu) is run by a group of Master of Wine certificate holders. They offer in-depth courses in a classroom-like venue. If you’re serious about learning then this is a good place to start.

Online learning options include the Wine Scholar Guild that focuses on wines from France, Italy, and Spain. Also online is the popular WSET program. Until recently WSET classes were available in- person, but physical instruction in China is on hiatus.

Emilie’s “Bottled in China” podcast is a great place to learn about China-based wine. Find the podcast on iTunes and Spotify.

Whether you are starting from zero or already a sommelier, there is a robust wine culture where you will fit right in.