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Confessions of a sommelier: Tobias Brauweiler

Decanter speaks to sommelier for The Ritz, Tobias Brauweiler, about the best wine he's ever drunk and the lessons learned throughout his career. As published in Decanter's January 2014 issue.

Tobias Brauweiler is head sommelier at The Ritz, London, 150 Piccadilly, London W1J 9BR, Tel: +44 (0) 20 7493 8181; theritzlondon.com

In 2013 he was named Best Sommelier of Germany and runner-up in the UK Sommelier of the Year

What’s your earliest wine memory?
Visits to our local pizzeria when I was a kid. My mum used to drink glasses of Gavi or Pinot Grigio served in 1.5-litre screwtop bottles, or Chianti in the traditional fiasco basket.

What bottle stopped you in your tracks and got you serious about wine?
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…

Since then, what’s the best wine you’ve ever drunk?
Kloster Eberbach’s Trockenbeerenauslese 1976. If I could, I wouldn’t drink anything else.

…and the biggest faux pas you’ve ever made?
My teacher from sommelier school came to the restaurant for dinner and obviously I wanted to impress. By accident I took a bottle of dull new Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from a neighbouring table’s ice bucket and topped up my teacher’s glass of very expensive Viognier.

What wines are you buying for personal consumption at the moment?
My new discoveries are wines from islands. Etna Bianco and Rosso, Nielluccio from Corsica, Assyrtiko from Santorini, Mallorca etc. Another favourite of mine is dry fortified wines such as Manzanilla Pasada Sherry or mature dry Marsala.

What’s the most valuable wine lesson you’ve learned as a sommelier?
Be a mentor. Don’t keep knowledge for yourself. Inspire the sommeliers you teach to become mentors too.

Written by Decanter

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