Serdar Balkaya is a judge at the 2023 Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA).
Serdar Balkaya is a well-known wine consultant and buyer who has previously led sommelier teams at Hakkasan’s HKK restaurant, the Royal Automobile Club, and Dinner by Heston at the Mandarin Oriental. He has a degree in tourism and hotel management and is certified at the advanced level by the Court of Master Sommeliers.”
Read our interview with Serdar Balkaya below…
☆ Which year or decade do you wish you’d been born in and why?
I wish I could have been born in the time of Omar Khayyam, so I could have been his apprentice. I should have liked to have learned science and literature from him, and to have drunk wine and discussed philosophy with him.
☆ How old were you when you had your first wine ‘moment’ and what was it?
I was 20 years old and experienced my first wine ‘moment’ sharing a bottle of Turkish wine with my close friends – the 1997 Kavaklidere Prestige Kalecik Karasi.
☆ How many bottles do you have in your cellar and what is your most recent addition?
I don’t actually have any wine in my cellar as I have a very bad habit of drinking all the wine I do buy! I did have a 2003 Casanova di Neri ‘Tenuta Nuova’ Brunello di Montalcino in my ‘cellar’, but enjoyed that at Christmas.
☆ How many years have you been working in the wine industry and what was your first job?
I have been in the trade for none years. My first job was as a sommelier.
☆ Which vintage and region (or wine) do you wish you’d bought a whole case of wine from?
The 1990 Henri Jayer Vosne-Romanée Cros-Parantoux.
☆ In the last 12 months, which grape have you drunk the most of?
☆ In the last 12 months, what’s the most exciting region you’ve discovered or re-discovered and why?
I was in the Rhône Valley last year for a visit and re-discovered Cornas. It has the most amazing terroir and the wines you can find offer great value for money. The ones I tried were all concentrated, complex and had beautiful balance.
☆ Who’s your wine idol (who has inspired you the most in the wine world)?
☆ What’s your most memorable wine and food moment?
A meal at The Fat Duck stands out above all. We had the ‘Sound of the Sea’ dish from the tasting menu paired with Masumi Nanago Junmai Daiginjo sake.
☆ If you could taste/drink any wine in the world what would it be and who would you drink it with?
The 1990 Henri Jayer Vosne-Romanée Cros-Parantoux – the same wine I wish I had bought a case of! – and I would share it with my dad and my dear friends Isa and Cuneyt.
☆ What’s the highest number of wines you’d had on one of your wine lists?
☆ What is the oldest bottle of wine you’ve served?
A Taylor’s 1948 Vintage Port.
☆ What are you most looking forward to about judging at the Decanter World Wine Awards?
I am looking forward to trying a lot of Old World classic wines and the latest wines to come from the Middle East.
Written by Decanter
See more judges for the 2023 DWWA.