Name: Dmitry Koutcherouk
At the moment: Belarus
Sommelier, Product Manager
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Any particular mentors at that time?
My mother really likes wine, so I have this habit as a legacy from her. After graduation form BA in Economics in Minsk I wanted to change my path and try to explore new opportunities. I found the MSc Wine Business program in France in the Internet and decided to join. It wasn’t hard for me to get accepted due to my strong motivation and previous economic experience.
I consider Domenico Acampora like my mentor in food and wine. Actually he is a great chef and his selection of products helps me to try new pairings in enogastronomy.
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?
First of all the wine knowledge is essential. Most of the consumers cannot understand the label of wine. The ability of understanding the needs of consumer is the second essential skill. I think these two qualities are even. The sommelier should know the wine, have the ability to perform this wine and choose the right wine for right person. I even have the thought that the pairing wine and consumer is more important than the wine and food pairing.
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 think I am still young sommelier who need to grow experience. So the advice for young sommeliers and well as for myself is to work hard and try new wines, new pairings, do the notes, review the notes again and again and read the books. I think the acting courses will be helpful as well to interact with consumers.
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what’s in your opinion would be the best approach?
As I mentioned earlier I think the pairing of wine and consumer goes the first, then the pairing of wine and food goes. The understanding of consumer is very important. You should try to find out what the consumer likes, his preferences will help you to suggest the best wine for him as well for his food.
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?
I think the quality of glass is very important as well as the shape and thickness. Falcone Restaurant is working with Schott Zwiesel Diva collection. I think this collection is very elegant, the quality is very good and the glass is very thin so the the consumer feels the pleasure of touching.
I don’t mind of any new and creative brands for glasses. All depends on the objective and purpose. But the quality for glass should be excellent. No excuses.
I really like some collections Riedel an C&S and at the same time opened to try something new.
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
I think the most important part is the experience. The basic rules are applicable like weight of food and wine, the acidity and fat balance. I think some knowledge of chemistry will be hopeful as well as the knowledge of the winemaking process and food preparation.
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 markup?
I think the balance is the key to everything. Starting with your health and ending with the wine list in the restaurant. I tried to present a various range of wine in regions and price. Of course, all the wines should have the decent quality. The main problem of wine industry in Belarus where I am working is the difficulty of entrance to Belarusian market. The country has a lot of legislations and regulation related to alcohol policy which is quite strong, difficult and strict.
The price of wine in the restaurant could be explained with some points. Economically speaking you are using the glasses that the restaurant bought, the electricity is running, the waiter is bringing the wine and food, the chefs are cooking, the accountant is calculating, the housekeepers are cleaning and don’t forget about the taxes, fees and rent. All this should be paid with the profit. The right balance between the profit and expenses should help to calculate the right prices for food and wine in a restaurant.
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
The connection and communication between sommeliers is very important to this matter. I think the blogs of amateurs is will also help you to understand the consumer. Nowadays the online industry is strong as never, the internet browsing helps to stay on top in the wine industry and monitor the newest trends. The closer looks for the restaurants and the consumers gives the significant part of this management as well.
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?
I don’t think this question is applicable for Belarusian market due to entrance difficulties I mentioned before. In Europe where the movement of wine is quite free the producer should start from the local shops and restaurants in my opinion. A lot of sommeliers visiting the wine regions all the time, I think this is the best opportunity for local producer to be noticed. As I said earlier the online industry is very strong and the Social Media Management is also very important and gives a lot of instruments of product popularisation.
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
This is very funny question. I think I will pick Pinot Noir as a delicate and quite sensitive grape. I was studied in Burgundy and my palate is totally Pinot Noir and heavy oaky Chardonnay. These are my favourite wines so I will pick these varieties to be.
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?
My collection changes all the time. I don’t have proper facilities for the wine ageing but someday I will have. Now I have one of the most interesting wines from Burgundy made by Bernard van Berg (Bernard van Berg Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire red) and he made one of the best rose I ever drunk in my life. And his rose is made from Gamay grape! I really like Crus Beaujolais so I have one of my favourite wines Domaine de la Grande Cour Cuvée Vieilles Vignes Terroir Champagne Fleurie 2012. And the third just bought a couple of days ago Maison Albert Bichot Pouilly-Fuisse 2008.
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers – International Sommelier Positions – www.sommelier-jobs.com