The Sommeliers Palate – Rasmus Marquart, Sommelier at Atelier M, Dubai

(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.”

Rasmus Marquart, Sommelier at Atelier M, Dubai

Rasmus Marquart, Sommelier at Atelier M, Dubai

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.


Rasmus Marquart, Denmark         


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

Atelier M, Dubai. Located in Dubai Marina in Pier 7 tower. We are a 3 floor venue (restaurant, lounge and rooftop). We are able to fit more than 420 guests at once. Mediterranean cuisine. The wine list is focused on European wines, with the indigenous varieties.


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

Recently dined in Zuma, Dubai, which served all the dishes with high precision, simple and perfectly balanced.


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

Le Sommelier, Copenhagen. Endless wine list, with everything your palate would wish. They have a big focus on French wines.


Where is the most memorable restaurant meal you have had?

First visit at Fabio’s in Vienna. Came to the restaurant without any expectations. Heard good thing about the restaurant, so we decided to give it a visit. One thing I never regret. Italian cuisine as it should be, décor and ambience was in top. And the wine list was fantastic.


Do you have a favourite regular restaurant?

In Dubai I really enjoy visiting La Serre. Traditional French Bistro with super quality and service.


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

I have always enjoyed cooking, everything from fresh fish dishes to heavy meat dishes. I think it is very important to cook when you are sommelier, to perfect your food and wine paring.


Do you have a favourite wine bar?

Cave, Conrad Hotel, Dubai. Beautiful interior, great wine by the glass.


Do you have a favourite wine merchant?

I like going to small niche merchant who are specialists in theirs products. I prefer small Vinotheks where you are able to have a glass or tastings while shopping.


What wine are you drinking at the moment?

I am trying to drink something new every time. I like tasting different style of wine, smaller and less known grape varieties.


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

Château Clinet 1986 – I received 12 bottles of the Clinet 1986 from my father to celebrate the year I was born. My sister received 12 from her Vintage (1980). We open one of each vintages. The ’86 was still very young in the expression. I was very surprised of the smooth palate.


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

Charetto from Sardinia.


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 first Austrian Blaufränkisch. It was Scheiblhofer Jois 2006. 100% Blaufränkisch, would never imagine the complex of the wine. It is one of the top wines from Scheiblhofer.


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

While doing the new menu food tasting at Atelier M, we had a Haddock croquette which was perfectly matched with Páres Baltá – Blanc de Pacs


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

I have been very privileged when I was young. At the age of 7, I visited 4 out the 5 big Bordeaux wineries. This summer I was finally back in Bordeaux, beautiful city, and amazing small restaurants and of course delicious wines.


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.

NV Armand de Brignac Rosé (Champagne)

2002 Domaine Leroy – Auxey-Duresse (Burgundy)

2011 Cloud Chaser rosé MAGNUM (Provence)

2005 Philipe Pacalet – Gevrey-Chambertain (Burgundy)

2007 Sadie Family – Columella (Swartland, South Africa)

2004 Hans Thscida – Sämling Trockenbeerenausles (Burgenland, Austria)


By Curtis Marsh | The Sommelier's Palate | Related to: , , |

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