In One For The Road, we speak with the best bartenders and spirit guides to get to know them better. Here, Mason Ng of Park90 talks about the industry shifts, wine culture and what people should drink more of
Take your wine seriously or think of it as a fun endeavour, and Mason Ng will be there for you all the same. The Park90 Group Wine Director prides himself on humility, hard work and passion, and at Park90 at the new Conrad Singapore Orchard, he only seeks out the best and most interesting stuff to drink. Which means every time you visit, you are likely to find something new and exciting, served by someone who can do its story justice. Someone who also happens to be the recently crowned Best Sommelier of Asia & Oceania (a first for Singapore), and if the cards fall his way, will be Best Sommelier of the World 2023.
What is your origin story?
I started my wine journey at 13, tasting wine from my uncle and reading all about it. I eventually skipped university to pursue a career as a sommelier and have not regretted that since. I started my career at La Strada before joining Park90, a special place with a fun team of sommeliers and one of the best-priced wine lists in Singapore.
How do you see yourself shaping the wine world?
I don’t know about the world, but I would like to start in Asia, promoting wine as a career or elevating the region’s standards. I’d love to conduct some sommelier classes and spread the joy and awareness of this industry.
What has been the most important shift in the industry and what are you excited about moving forward?
The most important shift is the consumption of natural wines. A lot more people are more willing to wine when it is approachable and without frills. Natural wine-drinking advocates having fun, relaxing and allowing flavours to express themselves without much human intervention. This, I think, is the main attraction, and here we are. Sustainability is the way to go.
People engage in all sorts of conversations about all sorts of things. But when it comes to wine, it’s often considered pretentious. Have you thought about negating the pretentiousness of wine culture?
There are many wine drinkers out there who are snobbish. To that I have to say, start with yourself and be the change you want to see. Share your knowledge, share your wines, be humble and be open. Never look at a label and judge a bottle immediately.
What’s an underrated wine you’d like to rescue?
I’m not sure if it is underrated, but not enough people are drinking sherries. They are amazing, complex and unique.
Some say that the best wines often come from the worst soils. True or false?
Yes. Vines like hardy soils, so they can work hard to dig for nutrients. The more fertilised the soils are, the less work the vines need to do, and the less complex the wine would be. The best minerality exists deep down below the top layer of soil.
What regions would you consider adventurous?
I like to keep an open mind at blind tastings. However, in my opinion, the most exciting (but misunderstood) regions would be Germany, Austria and Hungary. These countries have great wines with so much minerality, acidity and value.
It’s late at night and you want one last drink for the road—name that wine.
If it’s a bad night, I’d often sip a few glasses of freezer-chilled vodka straight, like Beluga Gold Line. If not, I’d do a whisky highball or a nice bottle of Beaujolais!
Photography by Park90 Group