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A sommelier speaks: Xavier Rousset

Xavier Rousset is head sommelier at Texture, 34 Bryanston Street London W1H 7BY; Tel: +44(0)20 7224 0028; www.texture-restaurant.co.uk

What’s your earliest wine memory?

Growing up, there was always wine on the table, and if I was lucky, I got a small glass. Every time we went on holiday we visited vineyards, which made me thirsty to learn more about wine.

What was the wine that stopped you in your tracks and got you serious about wine?

A 30-year-old Banyuls from the local cave cooperative while I was on holiday in the area – I was amazed by its depth of flavour.

Since then, what’s the best wine you’ve ever drunk and why?

It would have to be 1959 Lafite, but for me the pleasure depends more on who you’re drinking with – it can make a wine taste so much better, or worse!

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened on the job?

Someone falling asleep after few glasses while his wife was talking to him.

…and the biggest faux pas you’ve ever made?

I went to serve a romantic table of two and the lady had gone to the loo. I asked the gentleman if Madame preferred white or red. On returning to the table, ‘Madame’ turned out to be a man.

Have you ever served anyone famous?

I had a good wine conversation with the actress Emma Thompson – she really knows her stuff.

What’s the hardest food and wine match, and how do you overcome it?

A good way to get around tricky ingredients is to offer an alternative to wine – sake, beer and spirits can all be matched with food and a sommelier shouldn’t neglect them.

What wines are you buying for personal consumption at the moment?

I’m really into the Rhône at the moment and Riesling from almost anywhere in the world.

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