SOMMELIER TALKS: AN INTERVIEW WITH A SOMMELIER MICHELE CARNEVALE
Have you ever wondered what’s it like to have a career in wine industry? Or maybe you’re just a dedicated wine lover, who wants to know more? We put a spotlight on professional sommeliers and asked to tell us about their background, funniest stories and failures.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT YOU, WHAT DO YOU DO?
My name is Michele Carnevale, I’m Italian and I work as a Sommelier at the Savoy, one of most iconic hotels in London. The restaurant where I’m working is the Kaspar’s which is the main restaurant inside the Hotel. We are focused on modern seafood cuisine and our wine list is traditionally focused on old world wine with some of the best wines from all over the world and some new upcoming wine regions.
What was your background before you became a sommelier?
Before becoming a Sommelier, I have studied Political science and international trade in Italy (BoA). I used to work for a multinational company, in my country, in retail where I felt in love with all the food and beverage world and I started studying wine in details, which was one of my biggest passions thanks to my father who passed me this interest.
A while after studying wine, this one was not anymore just a hobby but it became my job. And every year I’m continuously learning about this fantastic world where you will never stop exploring.
Did you know what is it going to be like when you just started? Do you remember your first day?
Honestly, at the beginning, I never thought about becoming a professional sommelier in London and that this job could be so interesting and challenging at the same time. The expectations of you as sommelier are always over the top because you need to find the perfect balance recommending and serving wine for your guests.
I can’t forget my fist day at work but it was a trial. And as normal as trial I was doing my best so that my performance was good enough to get a special recognition from a guest and get the job.
Have you had any failures so far and how did you get over it?
Obviously, I’ve had failures. And I think that without these failures I wouldn’t be the same man and professional that I am today. If you want to grow and succeed you need to failure before and then keep going stronger.
What is the funniest story ever happened to you at work?
I would like to say that there are several stories considering all my jobs, there isn’t one funnier that another one. Also because we need to stay as professional as possible. For sure meeting people from all over the world sometimes can be funny and tricky; how they spell the name of wines, so you really need to be careful to bring the right one.
Any practical advice for people who are considering to become a sommelier?
The best advice that I can probably share with you is to be constant, because in this hospitality and wine industry world you will never finish learning from anybody, so you need to be constant in studying and constant in performing. That for me is the secret. And always smile because it’s probably one of the most exciting jobs in the world!
Bonus question: If you could only buy one bottle to drink in December, what would it be?
As long as the festive season has started, I will probably buy a bottle to share with my wife this Christmas is Marques de Murrieta, Castillo Ygay, Gran Reserva 2007 from Rioja (Spain), a typical red from Rioja powerful and elegant at the same time.
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