Norie Harada is sommelier at Yoshi, Jöel Robuchon’s new Japanese restaurant at the Hôtel Métropole in Monte-Carlo, 4, Avenue de la Madone, BP 19 - MC98007 Monaco Cedex; Tel +37 793 151 515; www.metropole.com
What’s your top tip for wine lovers picking a wine from a restaurant list? Working in a Japanese restaurant, we tend to match the foods with sakés. I would always suggest choosing something that is exclusive to the restaurant, as they tend to best complement the dishes.
How much emphasis do you attach to food and wine matching? I love the challenge. Matching is very important and can be an art, but there are no rules as such. It’s important not to turn the exercise into an exam. It’s all about understanding personal tastes, that vary greatly, and making the customer feel like they’ve made the final choice.
What region would you like to have more of on your list, and which region less? Why? Japan – the Japanese white wine, Koshu (named after the grape) is beautiful and a very good match with sushi, shellfish and delicate cuisine due to its finesse and minerality.
What do you do when a customer claims a wine is corked or faulty but you don’t agree? I’ll usually taste the wine with the customer first. Then, after decanting it, I’ll explain about the age of the wine and taste it again. Unusual aromas can occur from reductive aging. If the wine really is corked, then of course we’ll serve a new one.
The full interview, including Norie’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 October issue of Decanter magazine (out 2 September) – Subscribe here.