In Medieval Provençal times they were saumaliers, animal pack drivers who evolved during Middle French kingdom to become court officials charged with transportation of supplies. So what does a modern day Sommelier actually do? Well, Wikipedia outlines as such, “A sommelier or wine steward is a trained and knowledgeable wine professional, normally working in fine restaurants who specializes in all aspects of wine service as well as wine and food matching. The most important work of a sommelier is in the areas of wine procurement, wine storage, wine cellar rotation, and expert service to wine consumers.”
A reasonably accurate job description although perhaps a little parched as our new-age sommelier has evolved to a higher learning with a wine Jedi cognizance and a seventh sense that can psychoanalyse a diner, marry the person, the dish and the wine in seconds. They are now the gateway to wine discovery equipped with clairvoyance in food and wine trends, inspiring thirst around the world.
Feared by winemakers, loathed by wine distributors as the arbiters’ of wine lists, the restaurant patron should embrace their knowledge, skills and talent as they are hopelessly and passionately obsessed with wine and will take you on journey of gastronomic enlightenment. And our new-age sommelier is no longer confined to fine dining and can be found in casual eateries, wine bars, gastro-pubs, winery restaurants, wine stores and you’ll even bump into an air-sommelier at 30,000ft these days. Some have hung up their waiters-friend and metamorphosed to the wine trade as brand ambassadors, distributors or consultants, but once a sommelier, always a sommelier.
This column explores the gustatory and olfactory manifestations of sommeliers all over this planet. We take a cross section of the sommelier’s stomach and intestines to reveal what and where they eat. And we dissect their taste buds and dopamine receptors as they relent to the Wandering Palate narcosynthesis and confess to their personal vinous pleasures and closely-held secrets – this is The Sommelier’s Palate.
Jean-Michel Deluc, France
Where do you currently practice your sommelier skills (restaurant, hotel, consulting etc)?
Internet site : www.lepetitballon.com Schools: Institut De Chimie Oenologie de Paris , Le Cordon Bleu Paris, Institut Supérieur Clorivière, Centre Européen de Formation Professionnelles Pour Adultes (Strasbourg)
Where have you dined recently (restaurant) that impressed you?
Market’s Paris (Avenue Matignon)
Where have you dined (restaurant, wine bar) that you were mightily impressed with the wine list and service?
Lasserre (Paris )
Where is the most memorable restaurant meal you have had?
Louis XV in Monaco when it was the only Alain Ducasse restaurant then.
Do you have a favourite regular restaurant?
Le Coin 88 rue du Rocher 75008 Paris (bistrot)
Do you cook at home and is there a dish you have perfected?
Yes. Chou Farci
Do you have a favourite wine bar?
Le Rubis in Paris
Do you have a favourite wine merchant?
What wine are you drinking at the moment?
Champagne Moncuit 2004 Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Mesnil sur Oger
What’s your latest wine discovery – new region, variety or style?
Aureto Le Petit Miracle 2012 AOP Lubéron
Tell us what is your ultimate wine bargain discovery in terms of price/quality rapport? (i.e. does not have to be cheap but over-delivers in quality for the price)
Domaine Sarrabelle Laurent et Fabien Gaillac Tradition 2013 “L’en de l’El” ( at 2.52 € buyer’s price)
Tell us about an inspirational wine and food pairing that has you have experienced recently.
Almaviva 1999 (Chile) and roasted rack of lamb with pommes sarladaises
What is the most enthralling wine region you have been to in terms of dramatic scenery, inspiring vineyards and good eating?
Alsace ( France)
Select a six pack of wines that you think are absolutely outstanding and inspirational, and that will set people on a journey of vinous discovery and enlightenment.
Champagne Moncuit “Cuvée Hugues de Coulmet
Château Destieux 2006 Saint-Emilion Grand Cru
Corton 2009 rouge du Domaine Chevalier à Ladoix-Serrigny
Saumur Puy-Notre-Dame 2010 “Tamino” Domaine de la Paleine
Vendée “Bel Canto 2009 Prieuré La Chaume
Château Palmer 2006 Margaux