Sommelier Talks: An Interview with a Sommelier Valeria Petrella
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 Valeria Petrella, I have just completed my adventure in Park Chinois as Chef Sommelier and soon will start a new commitment as Beverage Manager at Monkey House ( MNKY HSE restaurant in Mayfair, London).
What was your background before you became a sommelier?
Before becoming a Sommelier, I was a Psychology student back home.. quite strange right?!
Did you know what is it going to be like when you just started? Do you remember your first day?
My first day..mm..good question! I remember my first interview in Berners Tavern with Stephen Raducki (Moët UK Young Sommelier of the Year Award 2012). I had no idea where I was and that this place will have to be my hospitality and wine school!
I was challenging a part-time position because was studying Event Management at the college at the same time. The funniest memory I have is when Stephen asked me to bring some flutes (flûte à Champagne – Champagne glass) to the private dining room at the upper level. There was a dark spiral staircase and I was not very confident with the tray… That’s what they call experience…Was totally scared but I made it!
It is also the same place where I opened my first Petrus.. here on the picture, I was so over the moon..!
Have you had any failures so far and how did you get over it?
Failures, I don’t tend to call it this way. But you have a bit of hard feeling when one of your sommeliers leave, like a baby going away from mama. Or when you don’t manage to make the guest totally happy.. I guess this is life, it can happen, yes.
Best way to get over it, in my opinion, is to accept that people can take different paths to develop and guests can be made happy adding something more positive to whatever happened earlier.
What is the funniest story ever happened to you at work?
The most joyful that recently happened to us in Park Chinois was a wedding proposal. Like in every girl’s dream, the gentlemen stands up and goes to the mic in the middle of our band stage.. starts to talk, ask the future wife straight away and.. magic, everyone in the restaurant started to clap and shout to the love, literally like in a movie. Great vibe!
Any practical advice for people who are considering to become a sommelier?
Practical advice I always give to any hospitality career beginner is to follow the heart.. in the guest relationships, in the wine-tastings, in the bottle suggestions and in the smile. Don’t smile because it’s part of the uniform but because it comes naturally from you.
Bonus question: If you could only buy one bottle to drink in October, what would it be?
A bottle I would buy in October.. Chassagne Montrachet Morgeot Marquis De Laguiche 2008 maybe?
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