Group head of wine Hakkasan Group
When your kitchen catches fire in the luxury hotel in which you work and the newly jilted head waiter runs amok with a cleaver just as the general manager walks in with his young family for lunch – and it’s Christmas Day, you want someone like Christine Parkinson on hand to steady the ship. A tried-and-tested industry veteran, Parkinson was on course for the world of astrophysics (she studied maths and physics) when she fell, as so many do, into the world of wine and hospitality. Starting as a chef, then a food-and-beverage manager, Parkinson created the first wine list for modern Cantonese restaurant Hakkasan when it opened in 2001, followed by one of the first saké lists in the UK for Japanese restaurant and bar, Sake No Hana in St James’s. Hailed by Jancis Robinson MW as “one of the most creative wine buyers in the UK”, Parkinson is the head of the Hakkasan Group’s wine and saké buying worldwide, juggling an extraordinary portfolio of labels and flavours in one of the most lauded restaurant groups anywhere in the world. Her lists have been similarly praised by a wide variety of publications – not least Wine List Confidential, which described her list as deep and detailed with quirky titles such as ‘Curious Vines: Distinctive Wines’, and for Champagne, ‘Late Disgorged’. A consummate wine educator, not only of the staff under her charge but the trade and public at large, she is a certified WSET educator, and has run wine and saké courses for the staff at Hakkasan’s restaurants on three continents. When not sipping on Honey Jun – the “Champagne of kombuchas” – Parkinson is never happier than with cheese on toast and a glass of blanc de blancs Champagne.