Antonio Palmarini

How long have you been at the restaurant?

I have been working in the restaurant business since 2005. I started in Italy and then moved to London in 2010 to work as a waiter. In 2014, I started my career as a Sommelier in a Michelin starred restaurant, Jason Atherton’s City Social, I then worked in a 3AA rosette restaurant called Skylon and at the end of 2015 I become a Regional Sommelier for Individual Restaurants. I proudly joined the Royal Thames Yacht Club in June 2017.

What attracted you to become a sommelier?

My long experience in the hospitality business mixed with a passion of wine attracted me to start a new career as a Sommelier

Where did you do your training?

In London. I did the WSET level 2 in 2013 and now I am now studying for WSET Diploma. I think that formal wine training is never enough so I attended many events such as Imbibe, The London Wine Fair and Bellavita Expo to name the most important ones.
Then I have travelled to Barolo, Barbaresco, Valpolicella, Champagne, Chianti, Franciacorta, Montefalco and all around my region of provenience which is Abruzzo, visiting many producers that each teach you something of viticulture and winemaking. I am gaining experience and knowledge daily through working with wines.

What would you say were the essential skills required to be a sommelier?

Possess extensive knowledge, great understanding and a big passion for wine.

What wines compliment your personal favourite three course meal and why?

All depends on the food as I do not really have a ‘favourite 3 course meal’. Usually I would go for a Riesling Grosse Gewachs from Gemany as it is food friendly. It has a complexity and great acidity which makes the pairing good with lots of dishes.

What are your thoughts on the “Red wine with red meat, white wine with white meat and fish” age-old debate?

The Wine pairing is something much more complex than that. Yes big tannic reds go well with succulent steaks but also light, soft tannin reds go well with white flesh fish. It also depends on the on the ingredients, sauces and cooking method of the dish. The wine must have a perfect balance with the weight of the food.

How does the choice of the right wines complement the different food courses served?

The right wine can enhance a dish to perfection.

What’s the best part of your job?

This is my dream job. In addition to pouring and recommending wines, being in the wine trade gives you the opportunity to meet lots of people and travel to many places.

And the worst?

I can say there would never be a ‘worst part’ about this job as my PASSION for wine is in my blood.

What is the unusual wine that you have ever tasted and why?

Quite few, the most recent was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec from Ecuador that gives 2 harvests a year due the subtropical climate. Also a while ago I tasted a Retsina wine from Greece, a white wine infused with pine resin that really tasted odd.

What is the most money that you’ve ever seen spent on a single bottle?

New Year’s eve 2015, where a costumer asked for Chateau Margaux 1986 for £710. Actually that wine could be sold for more because it was just EXCEPTIONAL.

How many wines do you have?

In Royal Thames Yacht Club we have around 150 bins and stock holding of over 3000 bottles.

How often do you find that customers complain about wine being corked and – in your opinion – how often do you think that they are right?

I do smell it before pour for a customer.
Unfortunately during my career once in a busy service I missed one faulty bottle and the customer realised it. I just apologised and changed the bottle straight away as a customer is always right.