SOMMELIER TALKS: AN INTERVIEW WITH A SOMMELIER Sara Rossi
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.
What was your background before you became a sommelier?
I studied tourism in Italy and then in 2010 I decided to move to London, to improve my English , only for one year. My first job was in a natural wine bar, where my wine passion came-up and I am still here!
Did you know what is it going to be like when you just started? Do you remember your first day?
I was working in a restaurant before, but only as waitress. When I started to work as commis sommelier (trainee sommelier), it was difficult at the beginning, cause you have a different prospective on the floor and different duties as mise en place. (French: to gather and arrange the items and tools needed for serving)
It took me few months to learn how to do it and in the end I loved it.
Have you had any failures so far and how did you get over it?
I had few failures in my life, but the one which is very important for me is the guest satisfaction. When someone leaves the restaurant unhappy with the wine pairing or wine service, I consider that a failure.
I am taking this as chance to improve and learn from my mistakes for the future.
What is the funniest story ever happened to you at work?
I was inside a five star hotel penthouse and I needed to open a very expensive wine. I was nervous cause I broke the cork and I didn’t know how to open the bottle. The guest was looking at me and suddenly stood up saying: ‘Look, you don’t need to be fussy!’. He took my bottle opener and he pushed down the cork inside the bottle.. I was shocked. The guest was laughing and he offered me a glass.
Any practical advice for people who are considering to become a sommelier?
If you want to become a professional sommelier my advices are the followings:
– Find a good place to work, where you believe the concept that there is behind;
– Work with a good mentor, who can teach, motivate and improve your skills;
– Be ready to sacrifice your time off for tasting and master classes, which are very important for your personal knowledge;
– Work very hard and, the most important, STUDY, STUDY, STUDY, cause knowledge is everything!
Bonus question: If you could only buy one bottle to drink in December, what would it be?
November and December is the season for Barolo! I would say then Barolo Accomasso ‘Vigneto Rocche’ 2008.
To learn pairing wine with food like a pro, download Wine Picker, a wine app for Android and iOS, that comes handy for finding the right wine match!