With the ASI World Championship for Sommeliers being held in Belgium (Antwerp aka the most beautiful city in the world 😉 ) in 2019 I thought is was time to put another key person of a restaurant in the spotlight… I mean it are always the chefs that are put in the spotlight, but to create a full gastronomical experience it takes so much more than only food, the beverages that accompany the dishes for example are as essential for the experience! So time for a change I’d say and put that spotlight on the sommeliers. They deserve it !
I know you might find it strange that I am putting this job on a pedestal even though I’m not a sommelier myself… but let’s say that there are 2 persons to blame for me finding a passion that is not my profession 🙂 My Dad and William ‘Pato’ Wouters (who I met through my dad 20 years ago) 🙂 🙂 My dad because he introduced me into the world of good wines (and food in general) and William for helping me widening my horizon ad showing me different aspects in the world of wines and introducing me in the world of Sommellerie. A few years later I’m a board member of the Belgian Sommelier Association , Co-organizer of the ASI Sommelier World Championship and being as much as possible busy with wine and sommeliers … so you could say it has found a way to my heart.
What is a sommelier? I know that around this topic there is a lot of confusion. Most people think that a sommelier is only responsible for serving wine, but they do much more. A sommelier is a trained (HoReCa) professional with deep knowledge of how food and wine, beer, spirits soft-drinks, cocktails, mineral waters, and tobaccos work in harmony (on top of what the job of a waiter implies). It is their mission to give an extra dimension to the meal you are having :-).
In the past year I’ve been fortunate enough to have done over 80 interviews with TOP sommeliers form all over the world (and I will continue interviewing) from the great Gerard Basset to Arvind Rosengren to Sören Polonius.. . FYI It does me great pleasure to see that many Sommelier Associations from other countries have taken over these interviews and translated in their local language and even started putting more of their own sommeliers in the spotlight… so basically spreading the word and making the job of sommelier more popular.
What I learned from all the interviews I did is that in bigger cities like London, Paris or Brussels or countries like Japan or the US the job of Sommeliers is mostly valuated as it should and most restaurant owners understand the added value of having a sommelier in their restaurant. But what surprised me maybe even more was that in many ‘smaller’ countries or countries you won’t expect the job of sommelier is taken serious the situation improving as many new Sommelier Associations are founded and many are also joining the ASI (International Sommelier Association)!! What Sommelier Associations do is giving chances to young people to discover the a wonderful world, to build an International career and bring together people with the same passion. There a many examples of sommelier whose life changed and turned 180° thanks to their local sommelier association.
Anyhow I can only advise you to check out the interviews with the sommeliers and let them be the shining star for a change 🙂 You can find the interviews (English) via following link