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A sommelier speaks: Matthew Mawtus

Matthew Mawtus is restaurant manager and sommelier at L’Etranger, 36 Gloucester Road, London SW7 4QY; Tel +44 (0)20 7584 1118; www.etranger.co.uk, voted London restaurant of the year 2009 by The Good Food Guide.

What’s your top tip for wine lovers picking a wine from a restaurant list? Speak to the sommelier who will invariably be in tune with his list, what’s drinking well and how each wine will complement the chef’s style.

How much emphasis do you attach to food and wine matching? It’s an important part of any meal but by no means the be all and end all. A good wine has a place on any menu.

What region would you like to have more of on your list, and which region less? Why? I’d like to see more American wines. There is so much beyond Napa and Sonoma, such as Willamette Valley and Washington State – even regions like Texas are starting to make impressive stuff. I’d like to see less classed Bordeaux – they can get a little repetitive after a while.

What do you do when a customer claims a wine is corked or faulty but you don’t agree? What if it’s a 1982 classed growth? If the guest isn’t happy with the wine, I’ll change it. Whether or not I agree with them is a different matter.

The full interview, including Matthew’s biggest faux-pas, the strangest request he’s received from a diner, and what he is drinking at home, will be published in the September issue of Decanter magazine (out 5 August) – click here to subscribe.

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