Name: Livia Novais
At the Moment: Portugal
Sommeliere / Wine Judge / Sales & Marketing Manager
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Any particular mentors at that time?
My first encounter with wine was 4 years ago, when I was studying gastronomy in Brazil. My wine professor was responsible for that, I fell in love with wine and I started to search jobs in that area.
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?
For me it is very important to study and to focus. I was inspired by some names in the world of wine, for example, Carlos Cabral in Brazil, Beatriz Machado and David Baverstock in Portugal, and, of course, the only Brazilian to be a master of wine, Dirceu Vianna Júnior, as well as the first woman to be one, Sarah Morphew Stephen.
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?
Firstly, I admire people who are sensitive and passionate, which is extremely important in this area. If you aren’t passionate about this world, you won’t be successful. Secondly, one vital thing to bear in mind, is the wide dimension of this world, the complexity versus curiosity. The world of wine is a mix of constant learning, focus, complexity and variety. The many kinds of wines and grapes, and the sensations they provoke, is a fascinating area. It is also equally important to face this world with respect and seriousness.
Don´t give up, study hard and do tastings all the time. It is very important to taste a wide range of wines in this job.
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what, in your opinion, would be the best approach?
In my opinion, the best approach is to give the customer the freedom of choice. However, asking them to answer these questions might guide them to find what they need. For example: – what style do you have in mind? For what kind of food / situation would you like my advice? Would you like me to suggest some pairing with your food? Etc. The most important thing, however, is to respect the client, even if you don’t agree with them. The sommelier needs to pass the message but, must not be boring or insistent.
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 very important because they can make the difference. I study and taste the different glasses with the same wine. Sometimes to show the costumers the difference among them and how important the correct glass is. They surely interfere with the taste. I mostly work with well-known brands because I believe it´s very important for the business I’m currently working with, however, in a personal level, I’d prefer to include small producers to add a taste of adventure in the wine tasting experience.
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
As for pairing wine with food, wow, it is a fantastic experience. I love to work this aspect of tasting. Mainly because it´s when this magic moment the magic moment happens: the explosion of flavors and sensations. I think that pairing food and wine is the most important moment in the meals. The perfect pairing will provide the person with the best moments and the best flavors. The opposite experience, when the pairing is not good, could be a complete disaster…the sommelier needs to pay attention to the pairing without being rude with the customer´s choice. That is when the sensibility is required in this profession.
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?
Variety, following the bar/restaurant’s profile and pricing are, in my opinion, the key ingredients for creating a successful wine list. The wine culture certainly does not profit from this highly pricing policy. You should keep in mind that pleasure is the main ingredient in the tasting and promoting its culture does not accommodate dealing with abusive pricing.
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
By studying, studying and studying even more. In the wine industry you never know about everything, it´s necessary to study the wine market, the trends and to keep up with the news about recent events in the world of wine.
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?
In my opinion the fairs, places where people present their wines and projects are the best places to get to know the news from winemakers, and the news vineyards. When I come across something bold and peculiar, it certainly gets my attention, but sometimes it happens by chance, regardless of the marketing efforts of the producer.
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
Syrah. I love this variety. Syrah needs the hot weather to grow well, and so do I. Syrah is a complex grape and it gives the wine cacao, chocolate and mint notes. It is strong but not without elegance.
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?
It´s very difficult to choose 3, I love worldwide wines but maybe, the Portuguese, the French and the South African wines are my favorite. And my desert Island wine would be a beautiful Hermitage bottle.
Any interesting suggestions about magazines?
Nothing outstanding occurs to me concerning magazine suggestions now.
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers – International Sommelier Positions – www.sommelier-jobs.com