Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight: Yanick Dehandschutter

Yannick Dehandschutter is the next sommelier to answer my 10 questions. Yanick is the sommelier/owner of wine restaurant Sir Kwinten where I personally like to go a lot. I met Yanick when he was competing for the title of “Best Sommelier of Belgium 2013-2014” or better, I was one of the judges grading him ūüôā What I liked about Yanick was his smoothness of doing everything and his strong social skills, he won that year so I guess I wasn’t the only person with that opinion.

Yanick best sommelier of belgium

When you ever have the chance to eat at his restaurant you’ll see that when he gives you more info on the wine he serves it is like he is reading you a story or poem! He also likes to surprise his guests, he sometimes serves a wine without telling¬† what it is for you to find out what it is… time over time you’ll be surprised about which wine it turns out to be. With me one of the greatest discoveries was a white Belgian wine, I literally bought the vineyard’s last bottles of that wine afterwards ūüôā

Crutzberg

Next to the title of Best Sommelier of Belgium Yanick has lots of other awards and prices that he can show off with ūüôā Not that he does it, but fi I would have that many awards I think I would ūüėČ ūüėČ . What I admire in people like Yanick (and all other top sommeliers), is their passion!!! Passion is always the best drive for success!!!

Yanick

What maybe not every knows yet is that Yanick will also be making his debut on the national cooking channel NJAM! The sky is the limit I’d say.

Yanick op Njam tv

The questions:

What is your favorite wine region to work with?

I’m of the principle that a good sommelier must be ‘open’ for everything that gets made. That’s why I obligate myself to serve/pair wines from totally¬†different regions with our menus.

As long as the wines were purified with respect for the terroir and local grapes I’m happy :-). I notice that I’m usually more tempted in staying in Europe with y choice of wines and less with wines from outside of Europe. For the moment my favorites to work with for white wines is Austria and for the reds Piemonte.

What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?

Knowledge of wine regions, grapes and vineyards are the base for a strong/good sommelier. Next to that ‘social skills’ are very import for me.

A sommelier should be able to pass the correct information to the customer in a pleasant understandable way. I think that it is also important to be able to estimate a customer’s ‘wine profile’, is a customer more classic or does he rather prefer something new, does he like a lot of info or non… you should feel it.

Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?

No, not to my opinion. Today people are much more ‘gastronomically educated’ and know that it’s not an easy sector. It demands 200% of passion and dedication. Because our sector gets put in the spotlight more often people do get more respect for the job and the people doing this job.

Especially the young generation seems very interested and shows a lot of respect for all we do. It must also be said that the knowledge about culinary products in general has improved enormously amongst people and they’re able to valuate/appreciate the quality.

When and how did you get the passion for wine?

My Parents are already in the restaurant business for more than 30years, so I basically grew up in it. For my 10th birthday we went to a Michelin starred restaurant and it really rocked my world, from that moment it became my favorite hobby ;-).

During my period I spend in hotel management school I didn’t really had a preference, I like both working in the kitchen as serving people in the restaurant. It was at the age of 14 that I started tasting more wines and that’s when I knew this would become my favorite ūüôā . After my specialization year in hotel management school the passion only grew…

Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?

I have lots of respect and admiration for all passionate winemaker on our planet that make it possible for us as sommelier to serve and offer a wonderful product.¬† I also believe more and more in a better cooperation between sommelier and winemaker. We as sommelier can help blending and advice the consumer’s needs , a winemaker from his side can give us much ‘extra’ technical knowledge that in the end makes us a better sommelier.

What is your approach for pairing wines (or other bevrages) with dishes?

Taste and most of all testing. It has occurred lots of times that the things that seem obvious actually don’t work together/match¬†and vice versa. I think that this is the point where a sommelier has the liberty of playing around and should dare to innovate and make unexpected matches.¬†¬†It speaks for itself that before you serve this pairing to your customers you should be 100% behind this decision. This is definitely one of my favorite subjects, but¬†it is obviously something personal and¬†complex.

Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?

Pi√ęmonte, beautiful region, top gastronomy and the wines obviously!

For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?

It is always a unique experience to be allowed to taste Selosse Champagne after a long aging in the cellar at the right time. To my opinion a remarkable product!

Selosse champagne

What is you most wonderful memory of hotel management school?

During my specialization year I was allowed to participate in the C√ītes du Rh√īne Challenge in Avignon,¬†together with my teacher¬†Jos√© Lemahieu, a man for¬†whom I have an enormous respect (especially for this passion and knowledge about wine! We won¬†1st place, I¬†was only 17 years old and it is something I will never forget.¬†Truly a wonderful experience!

A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides having a meal in your restaurant, shop, winery , etc…?

Skiing ¬†is a one of my favorite hobbies, preferably in Austria. I just love it to sit on a sunny terrace after having skied a few hours and open a top bottle of¬†¬†Paul Achs, a Prager or Knoll I recommend to everybody ūüôā

Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight: Eric Boschman

For my French speaking readers the name Eric Boschman will sound more familiar as Eric already appears for many years on French TV shows, radio shows, magazines,¬†columns in newspapers,¬†etc…. Eric’s ambition is sharing his passion for wine with as many people as possible.

Eric Boschman

What many people maybe don’t know is that this former “Best Sommelier of Belgium (1988)” before all his media work has walked quite the path like working¬†in former 3 Michelin star restaurant Chez Bruneau¬† (at that time he worked there it still had its 3 stars), own his own restaurant,¬† write many books on wine/gastronomy, won many prestigious prices and has coached lots of sommeliers that participated to European and World championships. So you could definitely say he knows what he is talking about. If you would ever meet Eric Boschman, you will notice that he breaths wine, he talks wine (and food) and always looks very colorful:-)… to say it in a few words: a very passionate man when it comes to wine/gastronomy.¬†For me passionate people are always my favorite people to listen to as¬† they always want to transmit their enthusiasm/passion to you in every possible¬†way. it is also from these kind of people that you’ll learn most. I asked Eric, just like with a few other top¬†sommeliers or wine personalities, to answer 10 questions to¬† give us a sneak peak in the world and life of a top sommelier.

Eric Boschman2

What is your favorite wine region to work with?

It is really complicated to talk about just one. My life is made up from¬†my passion for wine since I was born; and also since I was ‚Äú born in wine‚ÄĚ ;- I love to taste new flavors, meet producers I’ve never met before. My favorite is probably to become, but I¬†really¬†loved all the ones I’ve visited and tasted before. To be¬†honest, in Alentejo,¬†Peloponnese, Champagne, Bordeaux, Swartland, Piemonte, Bourgogne, Luxembourg, Wallonia, Douro, Valais, Mosel, Rioja, Central Valley, Curico, I felt like at home ūüėČ ūüėČ ūüėČ

What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?

He must be an open minded guy; speak English and French fluently (the 2 languages of the wine industry in the world), and be able to discover a new taste¬†every day. He must also be an honourable cook, to understand what is a menu and be able to match the wine with the the food. A good sommelier must have a large library, because a lot of information isn‚Äôt found on the web, and that web is not always¬†really accurate. I¬†believe that a good sommelier must have a heavy and large “cultural background”; he has to travel, to meet other cultures, felling(feelings?),¬†characters, male,¬†female, and different¬†approachs to wine. The worst sommelier is a sectarian, a guy who believes that a good wine have only one form. Exactly like the moment stream(?) about “vins natures & vins oranges”, it’s¬†ridiculous to close his mind just because of a technical way to vinifiate(?).¬†At least, a good sommelier is a sharer, a story teller. We are not talking about wine or technology, we are sharing human stories and feeling. If it’s just a job or a¬†business, go to work in a bank or any administration because it’s a time-consuming job and we’re never enough paid for what we give; and that’s normal…

Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?

The sommelier is¬†really¬†underestimated. We are more artist than the Chefs, because we never repeat the same combination¬†between food and wine, because the circumstances are changing all the time. We are comedians, we are acting. Nobody goes to a restaurant just for eating; no one. If you’re hungry, you eat a sandwich or any fast food. When people go to a restaurant, they ‘re looking for a complete “experience”. If the food is gorgeous and the service wrong, you never go back to that restaurant, but if the food is just “average” but the service give you some “love& fun” you’ll be back and give a second chance to the chef. It’s just a general climate that the media create about chefs since Paul Bocuse decided (for private reasons) to “kill” the¬†service, everyone seems to¬†forget that the waiters are¬†fundamental and the sommelier can¬†easily kill the dinner by matching wrong wines to the food…

When and how did you get the passion for wine?

I hate “routine”, I’m probably the worst person in terms of administration and repeating moment. Since I was in the¬†hotel school, I was¬†confronted by that state of mind. Wine is a daily source of rebirth. That was the only way to survive in that job that I love ūüėČ

Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?

Eric Baumard. Is a real genius, a man with one of the biggest knowledge I know. But he stays human, never pretentious, just sharing his passion for life, wine and fun. And for him,there is a goal at every moment: have fun ! He Is the best sommelier of Europe, vice world champion, to summarise his titles; and is the actual restaurant director of the 3 Michelin stars George V restaurant in Paris. He’s¬†handicapped since he was 18 following a crash, and he rebuilt his life¬†completely after that terrible moment. HeIs more than an example, he‚Äôs one of my best friends.

What is your approach for pairing wines(or other beverages) with dishes?

I’m following 2 or 3¬†different approaches. One is the most important:¬†following my instinct, I can not explain exactly, but it works ūüėČ I¬†feel the wine and I imagine the full taste of the dish. I try to establish(?) found a king of complicity between the taste and¬†flavors, and I’m looking for a “structural opposition” to give some volume.

My second way is to combine by¬†color. Clear food needs a white wine or a blond beer, dark food needs a red or dark beer; it’s a¬†base to go further

Eric Boschman3

Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?

Go to Douro, because it’s the most¬†beautiful¬†scenic landscape in the world and the wines are gorgeous. I love Port, it ages more than anyone (any other), and better than a lot.

For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?

Chateauneuf du Pape Marie Beurrier from Henry Bonnot on a really old vintage

Dom P√©rignon 1964 on magnum, because I’ve already drunk it twice and I want to taste it again and again

Chartreuse Tarragone 1964 Yellow because it’s the one my ex wife and I keep ¬†to¬†drink the day she decides to pass the way by asking her ¬†active euthanasie. And I don’t want to finish the bottle.

Eric boschman by VW magazine

What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school?

Work at the Royal Palace when Francois Mitterand was on his official visit to Belgium. My last day at school was also a great moment, for different reasons.

A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop, winery, etc..?

I’ve no commercial issue with public, but I’ve created the first Wine Man Show in the world. It’s a stand up show during around 1h45 to 2h, following the atmosphere. Before coming, people just need to be¬†ready¬†for surprises. They don’t need any experience or wine¬†knowledge

Eric Boschman4