At the end of Decanter’s “Discovering the Chinese Wine Lover” conference at Vinexpo 2012, where he spoke as a specialist on wine consumption in Chinese restaurant, I caught up with Yang Lu, Sommelier of the Peninsula Restaurant in Shanghai, to discuss with him the topic of digital wine lists. Our interview follows.
My name is Yang Lu and I am the sommelier for Peninsula, Shanghai. This is my own humble opinion: I think if you have a digital wine list, it helps a lot on the customers’ side, because right now in China, in the hospitality industry, the people working in restaurants, the staff, their knowledge is not up to the international level. So to have digital wine lists to show a bit of detail and increase the profile of the wine, it could definitely help the consumer to choose a wine. However, that being said, I think that digital wine lists is not for every single restaurant. In some hip, trendy, chic restaurant digital wine lists are perfect. But for some more traditional, more classical, more established restaurants, I think I’d still go for a paper wine list.
Would you say a trendsetting restaurant would prefer a digital wine list?
Depends on what kind of trendsetting you want to talk about. If you want fine dining, traditional style restaurant, we have all kinds of different styles of restaurants. For a very classic fine dining, which is what I’m working at, I don’t think digital wine lists is the way to go, I like the classic style, I like to feel the paper.
And do you feel like wine consumption is more in fine dining, traditional restaurants here in Asia or is it more the hip, happening new restaurants that are growing in consumption?
Well, I cannot tell in terms of Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a completely different market than Shanghai. In Shanghai, the hip restaurants, they’re doing very well because they’re cheaper. In terms of price, they’re cheaper, and I think younger people like to go there, less stuffy, normal, casual. But for those restaurants I think having digital wine lists is actually perfect. It helps sales and it helps the consumer understand more the wine.
Check out the full video of our interview here: