By Brian Yao
A couple of weeks ago, I visited a customer in the suburb of Xingsha in Changsha, the capital city of Hunan province in south China. I love this place and find the local spicy food to be quite good. I stayed in the Venice Hotel, which has a good restaurant and some decent wines. Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed so I was unable to eat there and try a bottle of wine. Instead, I ended up eating in the lobby and drinking a Tsingtao beer.
The next day, I decided to search for a place to eat near the hotel. I found a restaurant called Sun Young, which had a poster outside featuring Spanish wines. The restaurant serves Western and Chinese food and, to my surprise, has a focus on wine. It even has a sommelier – Lv Hao Hao – to help customers if they want to pair a bottle of wine with food.
I ordered a spicy dish and a vegetable dish. I also ordered an Italian Merlot, which did not pair well with the spicy dish. At this point, the sommelier brought over a Loire white and two glasses. Friendly and generous, he invited me to share this wine that came from his personal collection. It was properly chilled, served in the right glasses, and had fresh pear aromas, a medium body, and nice acidity. We finished both the Loire white and the Merlot, and had a good chat about wine.
Lv Hao Hao is very friendly and passionate. His boss chose him to be the sommelier because of his personality and he is learning more about wine. The next time I travel to Changsha, I will probably bring a bottle of Grace Vineyard to share with him.
Overall, I was satisfied with the food and the wine in Xingsha. I believe it would be hard to find a restaurant even in downtown Changsha that served drinkable wines and had a sommelier.
Note: Sun Young has a cellar with about 50 wines from importers in south China, particularly from those in Guangzhou. and hosts monthly wine tastings.
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