The Sommeliers Palate – Judith Cercós Terrés – Head Sommelier at Mandarin Oriental Barcelona and true ‘wandering’ palate

“New Zealand is a very interesting region for the grape culture, I find the kiwi wines super interesting and with a great character.” Sommelier Judith Cercós Terrés

(pronounced suh-mal-‘yAy)

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.”

Judith Cercós Terrés, Head Sommelier at Mandarin Oriental Barcelona

Judith Cercós Terrés, Head Sommelier at Mandarin Oriental Barcelona

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.


Judith Cercós Terrés, Country Barcelona/ Spain


Where do you currently practice your sommelier skills (restaurant, hotel, consulting etc)?

I’m the Head Sommelier at Mandarin Oriental Barcelona, focusing in signature restaurant Moments Restaurant ( 2 ** Michelin Stars)


Where have you dined recently (restaurant) that impressed you?

In the Celler de Can Roca for my first wedding anniversary, even though it wasn’t my first time here, it’s always magic.


Where have you dined (restaurant, wine bar) that you were mightily impressed with the wine list and service?

Daniel Boulud (restaurant, wine bar) in London, it was the great dinner! I had the opportunity to go there in our EMEA meeting with the Head’s Sommeliers of Mandarin Oriental Europe.


Where is the most memorable restaurant meal you have had?

Le Doyen in Paris. My firth 3 Michelin Stars experience! It was unforgettable, my husband (then my boyfriend) and I went through almost the whole menu ordering half portions of the a la carte items. It is still the best dining experience of my life so far.


Do you have a favourite regular restaurant?

Yes, el Magatzem del Port in a neighbourhood here in Barcelona called Barceloneta that is on the beach side, definitely the best “paella” in town


Do you cook at home and is there a dish you have perfected?

I must confess that even I’m a food lover I don’t cook at all! My husband is a chef so he’s the one in charge on the kitchen at home, he is very caring and always spoiling me with great food, I love eating black truffle risotto in the winter and having juicy rib eye steaks on the barbecue, if I eat outside I love Japanese food it has become my day off ritual ( I CAN’T GET ENOUGH!).


Do you have a favourite wine bar?

Il Vino in Paris
Texture en Londres
Monvinic en Barcelona


Do you have a favourite wine merchant?

Golden Vintage, their specialty is to search for unique wines and special vintages so that make my job easier.


What wine are you drinking at the moment?

As Sortes 2012 to Rafael Palacios, this is from a region called Valdeorras in the northwest side of Spain, made with the fantastic Godello grape.


Is there a wine that totally moved you – like no other wine – a revelation and motivation for you to pursue you wine obsession?

More than a wine, I’ve always been fascinated by the art of cooking and the Service in the front of the house, always trying to learn more I started to be interested in the wines in general to a point that it became my passion. If you look in the library of my house there is only books of wine and cookbooks


What’s your latest wine discovery – new region, variety or style?

The style of California white’s grapes, I love the American Oak in the white wine also Napa red’s it gives a powerful taste and a buttery aroma. Also New Zealand is a very interesting region for the grape culture, I find the kiwi wines super interesting and with a great character.


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)

The Alsatian wines; I went there last January in fell in love with those vineyards. I was in Colmar, their wines are among the category of the ‘ big unknown’ being not necessarily expensive but with great quality, they have: Riesling, Sylvaner, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir… that I really loved when I was there so I went back home with 24 bottle of wine!!


Tell us about an inspirational wine and food pairing that has you have experienced recently. 

Sea Bass citric sauce, celery, apple and herbs – a pairing with Belondrade y Lurton 2006. Verdejo 100%. It’s very simple but absolutely delicious!


What is the most enthralling wine region you have been to in terms of dramatic scenery, inspiring vineyards and good eating?

Burgundy! I’m very lucky case we have a small property in the heart of the region, the landscape is fabulous full of peace surrounding by vineyards, and pure nature. It’s perfect to get lost with no cell phone or internet only with your sense, I got there at least once a year when I need to relax and disconnect.


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.

1- Viña Tondónia Blanco1961
2- Domaine Trapet A.O.C. Latricières 2007
3- Chave A.O.C. Hermitage 1998
4- Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains 1998
5- Bollinger R.D. 1990
6- Vega Sicilia Único 1960



You might also like:

Our ‘Wandering’ Sommelier, Karim Boulet, blogs on his recent trip to Thailand and Cambodia
The Sommelier’s Palate – Ned Goodwin MW
The Sommelier’s Palate – Olivier Gasselin, Head Sommelier for Hakkasan in the Middle-East (Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha) and China (Shanghai)
The Sommelier’s Palate – Inspiration from Sydney Sommelier, Lara Caraturo
The Sommelier’s Palate – On Her Majesty’s Sommelier Service, Please Salute Erik Simonics, Sommelier at Savoy Grill (Gordon Ramsay) London

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