Photographer: Dennis Yong Venue: Angel’s Share
Hong Kong Film Award-winner, Anthony Wong, is a powerhouse actor, embodying charisma on-screen, and – as Cru finds out through a casual chat over wine – a candid yet perceptive disposition off-screen.
A personal favourite of mine, Anthony Wong has appeared in over 200 films but never shows signs of pretension –demonstrating his acting finesse from roles such as the crafty Johnson in The Justice of Life, grunge-cop Tung in Beast Cops, and of course the uprightly macho Superintendant Wong in the critically acclaimed Infernal Affairs, Wong is undoubtedly a pillar of acting strength in Hong Kong’s film industry.
“Now that’s beer!”
Wong admits he never gave beer much thought until he attended boarding school in the UK, whereupon purchasing a couple of British beers, he promptly realized, “Now that’s beer!” Returning to Hong Kong, Wong was disappointed to find that apart from the creamy Boddingtons, nothing else quite compared to what he had experienced in the UK, so he now opts to imbibe in the occasional Tsing Tao, though he adds that the extra-chilled porcelain bowl is essential! Whiskey on the rocks also used to be a beverage of choice for Wong, though due to his hectic work schedule and the toll such alcohol can take on one’s body, it is now enjoyed in moderation.
“My interest for wine started with some close friends of mine,” recalls Wong, “Sean Lau and Francis Yu are both wine lovers – from collecting and drinking to thorough research – they really know it all, so I often drink with them. I did try my hand at really learning about wines once, but I felt it was a bit too troublesome –all I want is to enjoy some good wine! Sometimes I’ll find something I love, and after figuring out the year, brand, and region, I’ll realize that I can’t even buy it because they’re sold out, so I have to start the process all over again –it really is quite a time consuming process.”
French Bordeaux, a personal favorite
Deciding to forgo the effort of learning about wines, Wong now simply joins his wine aficionado friends at wine tastings, trying wines from Australia, Chile, Italy, etc. However, he pledges his loyalty to French wines, or Bordeaux wines to be exact, stating his theory as never considering a wine’s label, year, or region, but rather, if it’s something he enjoys, then it’s a good wine. We offer him three types of wine to taste including a Bordeaux, an American Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Chinese Merlot. Without knowledge of which glass is which, Wong still manages to single out his favorite Bordeaux. “I think Bordeaux is still most suited for my taste,” he says, “It’s a solid wine with a certain something that I can’t find in other wines – even wines that try to emulate French wines can’t match their robust, full-bodied intensity.” When it comes to critiquing the other two wines, Wong simply says, “No,” or “Tastes like an alcoholic Ribena…” Would he consider a trip to Bordeaux, then? “Not a good idea,” Wong replies – to visit Bordeaux would mean a seven-day drunken stupor where he would refuse to move at all, probably content to just sit around all day admiring the landscape!
Le Bon Vivre!
How does Wong buy his wines then? “I check out the price and the wine label – if the label isn’t too weird and the wine is priced at around four to five hundred dollars, then it usually isn’t too bad with meals. The seven to eight hundred-dollar wines are often quite good for sipping and savoring, but when it comes to wines over a thousand dollars – those usually have quite distinct characters and are not to be trifled with. These should be carefully selected as not all will be suitable for your personal taste.” When he has time to spare from his hectic work schedule, Wong truly enjoys life – one of his favorite pastimes is cooking while savoring a nice glass of wine; his specialties include steak, lamb and the occasional chicken and pasta (all of which pair quite nicely with Bordeaux, of course!). “Pizza, though, must be paired with Italian wines,” Wong advises, “French wines really don’t match!” Wong also enjoys the occasional evening with fellow wine loving friends, where they will easily enjoy six to seven bottles of wine accompanied by good music and lively conversation.
Surprisingly, Wong’s tolerance is not as high as we had originally expected, though I am impressed with his work ethic – he pauses his drinking halfway through our conversation, concerned that he would not be able to fully follow through with his photo shoot. His attitude towards wine is also admirable – though he may not be fully versed in the art of wine appreciation, he still maintains a personal standard and taste that is, like his character, solid and unwavering.
(From the March 2011 Issue of Cru Magazine. 刊於《釀．生活》2011年3月號。)