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My ‘wine-changing’ moment – from the sommeliers

We asked sommeliers which was the bottle that got them seriously into wine...

My wine moment – from the sommeliers

For Confessions of a Sommelier in Decanter magazine, sommeliers were asked ‘what bottle stopped you in your tracks and got you serious about wine?’

What was the bottle that got you seriously into wine? Let us know in the comments below.


Mathieu Ouvard, speaking to Decanter when the head sommelier at Gleneagles Hotel, said ‘In 2000, when at the Hotel du Vin in Tunbridge Wells, I tasted Domaine Coche-Dury’s Meursault 1985. It’s the ultimate expression of white Burgundy.’

‘I’ve tasted a lot of good red Burgundy. But Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s La Tâche 2006 absolutely blew my mind,’ said Johan Andersson, head sommelier at Restaurant Mathias Dahlgren in Stockholm. ‘After that, nothing was the same.’

wine moment

Domaine Armand Rousseau Chambertain. Credit: Arnold Jerocki

Christian Thorsholt Jacobsen, speaking when head sommelier at MASH in London, said ‘It was Armand Rousseau’s Chambertin from the early 1990s. Just the smell of it made me want to know more.’

‘When I first came to London three years ago from my hometown of Malmö in the south of Sweden I tried the wines of Philippe Pacalet, who was the winemaker at Domaine Prieuré-Roch in Burgundy until 2000,’ Maria Wallèn, head sommelier at London’s Coya. ‘His natural, terroir-driven wines opened my senses and my mind and made me understand the beauty of winemaking.’

David Vareille,  head sommelier for Bar Boulud in London, ‘Armand Rousseau’s Chambertin-Clos de Beze 1988. I was lucky enough to try this rare wine at a friend’s party and I immediately bought myself a case.’

Funniest moments on the job – from the sommeliers


Stéphane Morand, sommelier at Le Cercle à Bourges said ‘When I was a sommelier intern, I was lucky enough to taste Château Margaux 1979. It was pure beauty and cemented the idea that working in wine was the right career path for me.’

‘It was a Château Latour 1928, chosen by a restaurant guest (he’d drunk the 1929 a few days earlier but didn’t like the colour!),’ said Richard Bernard, head sommelier at Le Saint-James, Bouliac. ‘The complexity and beauty of the wine was a revelation.’

wine moment

Château Margaux

‘My bigggest faux pas’ – from the sommeliers


Stefano Petta, speaking to Decanter when who was working at Hotel Schweizerhof Bern in Switzerland, said ‘Bibi Graetz’s Testamatta from Tuscany. It’s a very powerful Sangiovese with incredible density. It was the first time I tasted perfection – I can still remember it. The label is also unique – Bibi is the artist.’

wine moment

Testamatta di Bibi Graetz

‘It was a cooperative-made Langhe Nebbiolo,’ said Arvid Rosengren, speaking to Decanter when wine director at Copenhagen Concepts restaurant group. ‘In hindsight a fairly simple wine, but at the time I was blown away. How could all these aromas come from a glass of wine?’

Rosengren was named best sommelier in the world in 2016 and is wine director at Charlie Bird in New York.

Worst customer habits in restaurants – from the sommeliers


mosel vineyards

Vineyards on the banks of the Mosel in Germany.

‘Not just one, but several vintages of all the single-vineyard Terrassen Mosel Rieslings of Heymann-Löwenstein, tasted at the winery. Incredibly perfumed wines with fine minerality,’ said Marinela Ivanova, beverage manager onboard The World, Residences at Sea.

Ali Rasouli Nia, speaking when he was head sommelier at Michael Wignall at The Latymer, Pennyhill Park Hotel, ‘I grew up in Germany, and when I was 18 I tried an eiswein from Schloss Johannisberg. From that moment, I knew wine was my passion.’

Nightmare food and wine matches – from the sommeliers

…and the rest

Alvaro Palacios

Alvaro Palacios, Decanter Man of the Year 2015.

Wayve Kolevsohn, speaking while sommelier at The Test Kitchen, said, ‘The Sadie Family’s Palladius 2006. With every sip it would evolve, and I was blown away.’

‘Most of the wines I liked in my early days aren’t favourites anymore,’ said Gal Zohar, speaking to Decanter when wine buyer for the Ottolenghi restaurants. ‘But one wine that is, is Alvaro Palacios’ L’Ermita from Priorat in Spain.’

‘It was a Peter Lehmann Shiraz a few years ago – it was like I’d been kissed by an angel. I was still thinking about it long after I finished the wine,’ said Bhatia Dheeraj, speaking to Decanter when he was head sommelier at The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong. He is now head sommelier at Penfolds Magill Estate.


‘On my first tasting as a young apprentice, I went with my restaurant manager to meet a supplier who had lined up wines I could not even pronounce: Tignanello, Sassicaia, Masseto, Grange, Vega Sicilia and Opus One. I finished every glass with no further consideration. Later I researched the wines’ prices…’ said Tobias Brauweiler speaking to Decanter when he was head sommelier at The Ritz in London.

He is now head sommelier at Hakkasan Hanway Place in London.

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