Many laugh about Chinese wine culture, often bringing up the example of fine wine being mixed with Coke, but during my 7 days in Shanghai I did see no such thing. On the contrary, Shanghai even has a nice little wine scene, with a panoply of shops (many with the so loved Lafite wines as crown of their selection) and also a few very cosy wine bars. Two times we visited Le Bistro du Dr. Wine, a hip wine bar with bistro flair on Fumin road, it charmed us with its stylish yet unpretentious ambiance and an appealing wine list.
First of all, the atmoshpere’s just nice. A little dark, which means it’s a good meeting spot in the evening: both group of friends and couples are sitting at tables and counters. Many expats can be spotted and especially the French languague comes to my ears a few times. The interior’s a tasty mix between heavy wooden tables, French bistro-antiques and Chinese roof-tiles. A walk-in wine cellar is a beautiful eye catcher as is a long communal table on the first floor. The ground floor mainly hosts a bar counter with a little more buzz going on.
The Food menu turns around cheese- and charcuterie-platters, as well as bruschetta and small portions of warm dishes. Hence the wine clearly is at the center of attention and with a list that comprises all possible price ranges and several focus countries. Of course, France is duly represented with a generous collection of Bordeaux’ but also with many Southern growths (including Clos des Fées). And so I enjoyed a solid glass of Grenache Blanc (or was it Viognier?) on the first evening.
But as I can easily get a hand on those Euro-wines back home and for lesser money, I always tend to use trips to Asia as an opportunity for drinking “New World” wines. And so, with our next visit, we directly stumbled on one of the nicer bargains of the list: Billi Billi Shiraz by Mount Langi from the Victoria region of Australia. A delicious Shiraz that is very much on the fruit but not as jammy as some of its equivalents, showing a good balance and representing a solid value at about 250 RMB a bottle.
Then, we were also impressed by this Argentinian cuvée of Malbec, Cabernet and Tannat contained in a bottle of Gran Reserva by Bodega Septima in the Mendoza valley. It is a dark and powerful wine that doesn’t come without fruit, but certainly brings forward a mystical feel of of depth first, also with some fine-grained and grippy tannins. It needs some time to open up, so rather make sure to ask for a decant at the beginning of your meal and start drinking it after having waited an hour at least (Price was around 500 RMB if my memory is correct).
Nearly every restaurant in the city also features Chinese wines on their list, and even Dr. Wine seems to await a delivery of Cabernet’s from the Ninxia region. I have to admit though, that I didn’t have a taste of Chinese wines during my entire trip. And the specimen I saw at the duty free shop of Shanghai airport -my “last chance” for Chinese wine – seemed overly expensive.
So if you happen to be in Shanghai and are in need of a relaxed place with a diverse wine-list, or a fix of European cheese, Dr. Wine certainly is the right choice!
Le Bistro du Dr. Wine
177 Fumin Road near Julu Road, Jing’an, Shanghai, China
Phone: +86 21 5403 5717