In September 2011, Praelum opened at 4 Duxton Hill. Gerald Lu has been there since the beginning.
Lu, who is a partner of the bistro wine bar – multi-tasks as manager and sommelier. He takes it all in his stride and sets a manifestly casual and friendly atmosphere. The Singaporean’s work clothes are a pair of Bermudas and a T-shirt. A ready smile completes the combo.
The wine list, though, is serious.
Praelum has between 300 and 350 labels. And – via Coravin – 50 wines by the glass. Ninety-five percent of those 50 labels are also available by the half-bottle as Lu is more than happy to needle out the equivalent of 375 ml.
At Praelum, a glass pour is 150 ml or five glasses to the bottle. As for BYO, customers are only allowed to do that if they accept a 1 for 1 bottle policy.
Sixty-five percent of the selection at Praelum is European. All major wine regions of the world are represented.
“Anything tasted for the MS (Master Sommelier) and MW (Master of Wine) exams will be listed,” Lu elaborated.
Gerald Lu is a two-time Sommelier Champion of Singapore (2010 and 2017) and the current President of the Sommelier Association of Singapore. He also judges at Decanter Asia Wine Awards which, no thanks to Covid, the Hong Kong competition has skipped the 2020 edition.
Lu is also a certified Sake Sommelier and, at one time, had listed several of the Japanese rice wine at Praelum, but found his customers not receptive to sake.
Perhaps it has something to do with the cuisine.
“When we started in 2011, we were a very French bistro offering homely food. We have evolved but remain European focussed.”
Gerald Lu picks up ideas on his travels. One of the most memorable discoveries was in a market place in Cape Town, South Africa. The chef – whose name was appropriately “Gift” – was so good as to impart to Lu the special rub he lavishes on the meat.
1/2 Rack Smoky Braai Back Ribs Brown-Butter Corn (S$35++) is a wildly popular Praelum signature. So too Tarte Flambe with Crème Fraiche which has been on the menu from the very start.
Here are three pairings recommended by Gerald Lu.
PRAELUM WINE BISTRO
4 DUXTON HILL
TEL: +65 62 38 52 87
Open Six to Midnight (up to 10.30 pm now because of Covid)