If only every trip to the doctor was like this one: chic decor, a laidback atmosphere and wine. Lots and lots of wine. Hardly surprising given the name, and the fact that co-owner Vincent Landais cut his sommelier teeth with three-star Michelin chef Alain Ducasse, but this newcomer to Fumin Lu is a real wine specialist with over 100 varieties on offer. Less obvious, but something that Dr Wine does very well, is the atmosphere – it could all so easily be intimidating or snooty, yet not only is there a good spread of prices (wines by the glass range from 38-65RMB; Champagne is 95RMB; bottles start at 120RMB), but the ambiance is refreshingly relaxed.
Understated French chic abounds in the decor, with beautifully brushed wood floors and large vintage poster-style paintings. Some walls are made of old wine bottles and exposed brick salvaged from Shanghai demolition sites. The ground floor hosts a few black leather sofas and a small island bar, manned by a friendly member of staff, while upstairs is home to more sofas and a large dining table for around thirty people. The second floor even boasts a special room just for Grand Cru, ensuring that the wine is kept at the perfect temperature. All of which makes it easy to while away a few hours in Dr Wine, sampling some exceptional wines. By the bottle, they have 63 varieties of red and 28 whites (going from 118RMB for a Cabernet Sauvignon to 45,000RMB for a 1982 Chateau Lafite) together with a single Prosecco (the smooth Prosecco Del Star for 190RMB) and six kinds of Champagne (from Duval Leroy Brut for 530RMB to Dom Perignon 1995 for 2,600RMB).
There are also a couple of dessert wines and a singular rose (Domaine Roman 2008 for 120RMB). The selection is naturally dominated by France, but there are also plenty of options from other countries, including China, which provides two white wines (Grace Vineyard Tasya’s 2004 Chardonnay, 280RMB, and a Symphony Series 2004 Muscat, 380RMB) and a red (the Family Reserve What 2006, 500RMB).
If such a range sounds a little overwhelming, attentive staff are on hand to help you out with a few tips and guide you through it all.
Dr Wine is essentially doing for wine what El Coctel has recently done for cocktails – offering serious drinks for novices and experts alike, but without any snobbish trappings. And that should mean regular checkups with the doctor.