Name: Helena Andersson
At the moment: Sweden
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry?
My interest for wine began in Austria and Vienna. I got a job as demi chef de rang in an Italian restaurant- Restaurant Collio- in a designer hotel – Hotel Das Triest. To do a good job I had to learn everything on the menu and of course the wines and the wine grapes, which had difficult names and were all local, and some Italians of course.
Any particular mentors at that time?
My mentor was my head waiter, Michael Seiwald. He taught me a lot about Austrian wines.
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 a Sommelier should be percipient towards the guests, and try to find out what the guests are looking for. We are the people with knowledge but also a person that can guide the guests through the wine list. Not to forget that all guests are different.
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?
Education and work hard against an aim.
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what’s in your opinion would be the best approach?
As a general rule, ask not more than three questions, that will lead you to what the guest wants. The first question e.g. would be if the wine should be white or red.
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?
Glasses are definitely important, it shows very well since I started to work with Zalto glasses. It is of course very small differences, but sometimes it is the sharp small details that differs.
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
That would be to actually pair wine with food. Mostly the sommelier have the knowledge about all the courses, so do not hesitate to ask for a good match.
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?
The concept of the whole restaurant is very important. The kitchen, which food will be served? After that you can do a wine list. It differs a lot if the restaurant is a bistro or a three star Michelin restaurant.
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
I travel, read magazines and the internet is of a small help….:-)
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?
Since I work in Sweden, the only way in is through the monopoly – Systembolaget, or a wine importer that only can sell directly to restaurants. The producers do not know a lot about if the wine importer is good or bad, and that will make a difference. I have seen very good quality producers work with not so committed wine importers.
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
Riesling. High quality grape, unique on its own, very good both sweet & sour (acid)!
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?
- Riesling Smaragd, Kirchweg, Weingut Rudi Pichler, Wachau, Austria 2010
- Sancerre Les Romains, Domaine Vacheron, Loire, France 2010
- Piedra Sassi, Syrah, Central Coast, USA 2010
Desert island wine:
Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti 2005
Any interesting suggestions about magazines or online platform?
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers – International Sommelier Positions – www.sommelier-jobs.com