How long have you been at the restaurant?
I’ve been in Hawksmoor Guildhall for just over six months, but have worked in Hawksmoor for a lot longer.
What attracted you to become a sommelier?
Initially I wanted to learn how to make cocktails, because I wanted to learn to drink better drinks. Working behind the bar lead to having to learn about wine. I guess I caught the wine bug while working in a Spanish restaurant.
I like how sociable this profession is. That, and the fact that it also involves food and traveling.
Where did you do your training?
Mainly in Hawksmoor.
What would you say were the essential skills required to be a sommelier?
Curiosity, passion and a bit of charm.
What wines complement your personal favourite three course meal and why?
At the moment they would be dry Sherry, Alsatian whites, northern Rhône reds and Madeira to finish. I like the freshness on these styles of wine and how they’re versatile enough to go with a wide range of food.
What are your thoughts on the “Red wine with red meat, white wine with white meat and fish” age-old debate?
I think it’s a guideline only, not a rule of thumb. Not all wines are equal, not all wines will have the same effect on food. I remember vividly having a white Grenache with a fillet and thinking it was pure bliss.
How does the choice of the right wines complement the different food courses served?
It’s a balancing act between flavours and textures, it makes the eating and drinking a lot more enjoyable.
What’s the best part of your job?
Talking about wine. That being with customers on the floor, with suppliers and winemakers at a tasting, with colleagues and friends outside the restaurant.
And the worst?
Surely the working hours. Working on Friday nights is not very cool.
What is the most unusual wine that you have ever tasted and why?
A blend of Merlot with raspberry wine. Had never seen raspberry wine before, let alone blended with (grape) wine.
What is the most money that you’ve ever seen spent on a single bottle?
I spent £150 in a bottle of Palo Cortado. So good…
How many wines do you have?
At Hawksmoor Guildhall we have just over 200 wines.
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?
More times than not. It’s less common, now, to have a customer complaining about a wine being corked when it isn’t.