A sommelier speaks: Agustina de Alba

Agustina de Alba is head sommelier at Faena Hotel + Universe, Martha Salotti 445, Buenos Aires, Argentina

What’s your top tip for wine lovers picking a wine from a restaurant list?

Look for something new: a label or region you’ve never tried. Dining out is a unique sensory experience, so seek the unknown – a new sensation.

How important is food and wine matching?

Food and wine matching is a game to me – I love playing with the elements and putting the pieces together like a puzzle. I’m pretty relaxed in my approach.

What region would you like to have more of on your list and why?

Our wine list is mainly Argentinian (we are ambassadors for home-grown wines) but I would like to see more Old World wines, particularly from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rioja and Ribera del Duero.

What do you do when a customer claims a wine is corked or faulty but you don’t agree?

I would offer my opinion but the customer always has the last word, so if they think the wine is corked, I’d replace the bottle.

What’s the most annoying customer habit?

When male customers offer to help me open their bottle of wine because they think I’ll struggle with it.

What are you buying for personal consumption at the moment?

I’ve just come back from Europe, so I’m really into Burgundy, the Médoc, Pomerol and St-Emilion. I also bought a lot of Brunello and Rioja, having visited both regions during my trip.

The full interview, including Agustina’s biggest faux-pas, can be found in the April issue of Decanter magazine (out 4 March) – click here to subscribe.

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