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A sommelier speaks: Michael Engelmann

Voted Best Sommelier in the US (2009), Michael Engelmann works at Gary Danko, 800 North Point at Hyde Street, San Francisco, CA 94109 Tel +1 415 749 2060 Web www.garydanko.com

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

Speak with the sommelier; they’re there to help you navigate the wine list and find something you’ll enjoy. Try a new wine, grape or appellation. Nothing makes a sommelier happier than a customer trying something new and loving it.

How important is food and wine matching?

It’s vital that neither overpowers the other. Don’t look for something too complicated; local wine often complements local food.

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

I’d like to see more Languedoc-Roussillon. It’s one of the most exciting and diverse regions that delivers incredible value and hidden pleasures. I’d like to have fewer ‘monster’ wines that are out of balance, over-extracted and have no identity. They’re not food friendly.

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

I’ll tell them what I think but will offer to replace it. Often the wine just needs to breathe a bit. I’ll suggest they wait a few minutes then check back with them again.

What’s the oddest request you’ve had?

A customer once asked me for ice to put in their glass of grand cru Burgundy. What a waste!

The full interview, including Lucio’s biggest faux-pas and what he 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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