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A sommelier speaks: Laura Rhys

Laura Rhys is the 2009 UK Sommelier of the Year. She works at Hotel TerraVina, 174 Woodlands Rd, Netley Marsh, New Forest, Hants SO40 7GL; Tel: +44 (0)2380 293 784; www.hotelterravina.co.uk

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

Find a wine you haven’t tried before, at a similar price to something you would normally take.

How important is food and wine matching?

A good match will bring balance to both wine and food, but if the guest enjoys their wine, I’m happy.

What region would you like to have more or less of on your list?

I’m increasing the number of English wines. The quality is getting better all the time.

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

I’d explain the style of the wine and then recommend a new one in a different style. The original wine can still be sold by the glass. Even if it’s an ‘82 Bordeaux, I’d still take the bottle away.

The full interview, including Laura’s biggest faux-pas, the strangest request she’s received from a diner, and what she is drinking at home, will be published in the July issue of Decanter magazine (out 3 June) – click here to subscribe.

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