Name: Jhon Arboleda Galeano
At the moment: Argentina
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry?
My first encounter with wine, was, I still remember; at the age of ten, yes, “just a kid”; my father came to house bringing a bottle of port; of course I still didn’t know the way that moment was about to decide my future, remember myself giving a little taste of that magic beverage, when nobody was around….. few time later I remember myself and my family at the living room watching an old film in the tv, I clearly remember a sharp dressed man in black and tie, walking around the tables of a restaurant, serving wines and talking nicely and stylishly to the diners; years later I found myself doing so and felt so happy that a dream of my childhood had become a happy reality.
Any particular mentors at that time?
There were two in special; first an argentinian lady: Marina Beltrame, the first female argentine who had studied in a school in France in the late 90’s; after that we know she opened the “EAS” Escuela Argentina de Sommeliers, (in Buenos Aires), in spanish; several years before I move to Mendoza, Argentina I watched her program in a cable channel; “The Gourmet Channel” which is still on air nowadays. Few years later I started working as waiter in a five stars hotel in Ecuador: “Hotel Quito, el hotel de la ciudad”; I remember at that time I was quite skilled in hotel restaurants as well as in food & beverages matters. A school started running a wine program that I attended to the introductory level, after I finished that, Mr. Robert Ramia, my main mentor and current Manager of the hotel Quito since that time, (2007); decided to give me the chance to take care of the hotel’s wine business, so he designed me as the new Hotel Sommelier, a way that I’ve been running in different places until nowadays.
What specific traits or skills should a Sommelier(e) possess for professional performance and is there any person with that qualities you especially admire within the wine industry?
I think all that turns summarized in one word: “olfat” literally and technically speaking I have to say. If there’s somebody that in my opinion, fulfills this title, that “admired” person is Gerard Basset.
What would be your advice to a young Sommelier(e) i.e. Commis Sommelier(e) where to look finding an adequate position at home or abroad? Any further tips?
I’d say, you should start at home, so you can make your own opinion on how a good professional should treat his/her own people and outsiders feeling safe in it’s own environment, after a few years, the best, I think, is to jump to a nearest country to increase the knowledge and ways other places hold the wine trends, after that you can link your experiences and become a more mature and revolutionized professional with a unique style.
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what’s in your opinion would be the best approach?
In my few years of experience, I’ve realized you have to play a type of “polite and sutil guidance”, making few but elemental questions: How would you like your wine today?, young?, mature? fruity?, oaky?, mineral? etc, most of the times this are questions that people with no knowledge, know how to answer, because are not téchnicals, but simple.
What’s your philosophy about glasses? Are you working with well known brands or are you considering new brands as well and how do you determine?
Nowadays I find myself in the south american area, where the resources have to be cared at a max, not most of the times you find yourself in a restaurant that can afford the cost of a full restaurant set up with high class Riedel glasses, even less, a proper type of glass for every type of wine; “any Somm dream”!!!!!. My experience is you have to decide wisely, Bordeaux style glasses to start, I think, is a universal size, (of course it’s obvious something is a red and something else is a sparkling when choosing glasses), with time and hard work you can afford small amount of different style wine glasses; remember this is also a matter of “Olfat” and “time”.
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
I think rules are disappearing due to the immense universe of choices and likes, but basics I think will always be basics; I think gold “rules” are: local foods with local wines, complex foods with complex wines, parts of the day for types of wines, and so on; I have to say I’m more of the old school style, but always like to play novel trends and experience different ways and actors; again: this is a “Universe” there’s no end!!
What are the key ingredients for creating a wine list for a restaurant and what is your opinion on some ridiculous pricing on wine in restaurants, do you have tips on how to determine markups?
Ridiculous pricing is completely uncool nowadays, and definitely doesn’t determine the level of a wine nor a restaurant anymore, quite the contrary!!!, most of the time clients feel they were scammed. “More friendly pricing wine list, more competitive and popular a restaurant becomes. I think everyone should could have a nice wine on the table!!!!
Wine list Keys??, like a good wine: well balanced, with personality, not pretentious nor presumptuous, trendy, friendly, basically that. But like everything else, this is also a Universe, don’t forget the pairings, the versatility, the offer and stock of distributors, the style of the restaurant, the style of clients, and so on. A good wine server has to take notice and link everything in a good wine list
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
Study, investigate, try, study again, investigate again, try again, never stop!!!
How would a new vineyard get the attention of someone like you to notice their wine and what’s the best way for producers to improve their chances of being listed?
Anything new gets always my attention, I consider myself an entrepreneur, and like trying whatever is new in the industry. I think the producer should go to everywhere they could list its wine: wine stores, hotels, restaurants, always remember: What do I want for the future of my wine? exclusive places?, massive buying places?, only for export?, only local? Surprise tasting in a crowded restaurant is a hit!!!
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
I think I would be a Pomerol, because of the time it needs to fit the correct status, and the incomparable result it is after time of patience getting ready to see the light; the smoothness of the Merlot, the firm structure of the Cabernet Franc, the ageing in the barrels, well I think so.
What are the top 3 types of wine (your faves) would we find in your home wine collection and what’s your desert island wine?
Well, I think it’s not much proper a wine communicator gives personal opinions about his likes, but, by the way, there are three wines I’ll never forget; with no preference on the position:
Zuccardi Q Tempranillo 2003!!!!! Mendoza, Argentina
Pintia Toro 2006!!!!! Toro, España
“El Principal”, Bodega El Principal 2009!!!!! Maipo, Chile
Desert island wine?
Hmmm, you made me think…. Madeira!!!
Any interesting suggestions about magazines or online platform?
Jhon Arboleda Galeano
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers – International Sommelier Positions – www.sommelier-jobs.com