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Meet Chek Wong, Our Newest Sky Premium Advocator!

Apr 01 2021 - Blog

If you’ve had the chance to attend some of our invite-only events, you’ll be well familiar with Chek Wong! Chek Wong has led some of our exciting events, such as the Kan Sushi x Sky Premium: Sake & Sushi Masterclass.

Chek Wong is a veteran in this field, being a Certified Wine and Spirits Educator, Writer, and Sommelier, with 11 years of experience. Join us as we chat with him, and find out more about what set him on the path to his current success:


As a sommelier, what inspired you to embark on your current career path?

Like many people, I started out in an office environment. In my case, developing and implementing IT solutions for banks and government agencies. It was challenging work, but unfulfilling on a personal level. With all the myriad experiences life has to offer, I felt that I was missing out.

Moving into wine provided the opportunity to visit some truly exotic locales, and opened up a whole new world.

 

How did you become a qualified sommelier? What does the role involve?

Fortunately, my background in IT did not go entirely to waste, as it taught me to be disciplined and systematic when learning about wine. I completed the WSET Diploma in Wines and Spirits in 2013 and, from there, started taking on various wine-related assignments.

When we think about the word sommelier, we tend to think about restaurant service and F&B, but that’s just a part of it. Sommeliers can also be competition judges, educators, brand ambassadors, and writers. Some have even taken the leap into making their own wines. There’s a lot of grunt work behind the scenes though, things such as inventory management, updating of wine lists and, most importantly, the need to constantly keep current with changes in the wine world.


What sparked your passion towards wine/sake?

I think that once a person has gained a solid foundation, it’s a natural step to start specialising in certain areas. Because otherwise the world of wine is just too big, and it’s extremely difficult to become an expert in all areas.

For example, in Singapore, we have smaller retailers who specialise in Portuguese, German, or South African wines, and wine bars that specialise in natural wines. They do these niche businesses really well, and are able to offer a great selection by drilling down into their area of expertise.

Sake is both similar to, and very different from, wine. Although they are both fermented, sake has a totally different flavour profile, and can pair better with food. It has been an exciting experience pairing sake with different cuisines, and seeing how taste elements, such as sweetness and saltiness, change the flavour of the sake.

 

How would you describe your experience as a sommelier throughout the 11 years? Are there any challenges to overcome along the way, and how can we learn from your experiences?

Has it already been more than a decade? I feel like I’m still just scratching the surface when learning about wine, sake, and spirits. Each region has a slightly different feel. When I visited South Africa a few years ago, it was such an invigorating experience. The winemakers there are doing things their own way, and making unique blends that the world has never seen before. Just recently, Penfolds released a wine made from both Californian and South Australian grapes.

So the world of wine, sake, and spirits is constantly changing and, for us as consumers, it’s a very exciting time. Keeping an open mind is important; if it’s new, we should at least try it before deciding if we like it or not. Conversely, there are reasons why some things are done traditionally, and it’s worthwhile to understand that.


If you had to choose between red/white wine, sake, shochu, champagne, gin, whisky etc – which would be your all-time favourite pairing? And why?

There’s something magical about a glass of champagne that goes beyond just being wine. It’s a drink for celebrations and special moments. It is versatile enough to go with Western dishes, such as baked lobster; or Asian dishes, such as dim sum.

 

What’s your current favourite type of alcohol?

There is a lot of interest in sake right now, thanks to the number of Japanese restaurants that have sprung up. I think that it’s also partly driven by the fact that we can’t travel overseas due to the pandemic, and are just yearning for something that connects us to other countries.

 

Is there any alcohol which holds a special meaning in your heart?

My most memorable wine was a 1982 Château La Lagune that I had with some close friends to celebrate a special event. The cork was so old that it has the consistency of soft cheese, and was very difficult to pull out. We were all relieved that the wine was still in good condition after so many years.


What’s the most recent pairing that has got you the most intrigued?

It was during the recent Sake and Sushi masterclass organised by Sky Premium in collaboration with Kan Sushi. Pairing wines with oily fish, especially red wines, can often result in a clash, but pairing sake with raw fish creates a delicious sensation of savouriness; and, at the same time, tones down the fishy flavours. It was quite a revelation.

 

In your free time, do you continue to try out new pairings that you’ve not tried before?

I love the challenge of pairing wines with local foods. Because sometimes what would seem good in theory, often doesn’t work out in practice. Depending on the cuisine, the dish can also be oily, spicy, or sweet, which makes it trickier to pair with wines, and calls for creative matching.


Could you provide us 3 top sake picks that Sky Premium’s eStore currently carries?

The Dassai 45 Junmai Daiginjo – Dassai has attained justifiable fame due to its slick packaging, and easy-to-understand label. Previously known as Dassai 50, the new label adds an extra 5% polishing rate to differentiate it from other Junmai Daiginjos. Its broad appeal and clean, refined flavours make it a suitable jumping off point into the world of sake.


The Shigemasu Junmai Daiginjo – This is a very smooth and mellow sake that unfurls slowly with every sip. The sake hails from Fukuoka, and one of the reasons why this sake is so light and delicate is the brewery’s use of local water, which is very pure and iron-free.


The Takasago Matsukutsuru Junmai Daiginjo – This is an interesting sake with a long history. Sixth-generation owner Tadayoshi Onishi has crafted a sake that’s more in line with modern tastes, while, at the same time, maintaining time-honoured traditions in the brewery. This sake is made from premium Yamada Nishiki rice, which is known for producing very fragrant and elegant sakes.


Together with your vision in life, what is your definition of living THE GOOD LIFE?

To me, the Good Life is about appreciation. Whether it is the sights and sounds of a unique getaway, the effort a chef goes through to prepare an outstanding meal, or the companionship of family and friends. I also strive to take care of my mental and physical well-being, so as to be able to enjoy the Good Life to its fullest.

 

Join us as we, together with the esteemed Chek Wong, embark on a journey of experiencing all of life’s best pleasures.

 

Be part of Sky Premium's invite-only community today and enjoy more things you’ll love with our suite of exclusive benefits. A world of shopping and dining privileges, wonders and experiences awaits!

THE GOOD LIFE beckons.