Name: Aleksandr Rassadkin (Александр Рассадкин)
At the moment: Russia
Sommelier – 2015 Sommelier of the year in Russia
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Any particular mentors at that time?
I was a student and my friend helped me to get work as a merchandiser in a wine company. I was curious to know that wine can cost more than 10 euros and still preferred cheap beer and other “unnoble” alcoholic beverages. After few months I’ve got a wine tasting. There were some wines from right bank of Bordeaux. I thought: “oh, god! What a horrible stuff?! So tannic, so dry, so harsh!”) But, I was interested “How people could be so interested in wine?”. So, I started to learn.
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?
There are three main things that good sommelier should do:
*you should like the Wine
*you should like the people
*you should like your job
The 1st thing helps to explore the world of wine and improve knowledge. The 2nd helps to make a good service for guests and the 3rd helps to bring money and pleasure for you and your boss. I know some guys and girls who has all three. They’re no stars or really famous people, but they do their job perfectly.
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?
The international experience is very helpful, especially for Russian sommeliers that rarely work in other countries.
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what’s in your opinion would be the best approach?
There are 3 different situations:
- Customer wants «his» wine. It means that he want to find in a wine list a wine that he prefers (style, variety, region etc.) For good sommeliers it’s not so difficult to find the right one.
- Customer wants «something interesting(special/new)». It means that he trusts you. You should always have a few «special» wines that can surprise your guests.
- The obvious one. Customer wants «wine for food». That’s your homework. Your wine list should be virtually matched with menu. All the wines should have their «combos» with dishes. That’s the work of real sommelier!
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?
The glasses matter, but not more than wine. I prefer the “classic” design without anything left. I don’t have any “favorite” brands, but I got used to work with Spiegelau.
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
Never stop exploring. The “classic pairings” exist just for beginning. Your experience is your best assistant. But be careful with guests! Begin from classic and experiment only when you have a high level of loyalty.
Should a Sommelier(e) taste the guest’s wine?
I think, there is nothing bad in this practice, especially when you serve premium wines. You should be sure that all is perfect. But never forget to take a permission of the guest.
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 mark ups?
The wine list should be connected with food and conception of the restaurant. In Russia there is a popular problem of many restaurants: they work only with one distributor. The wine list should be more complex and flexible. I prefer to divide the wine list into three parts. «The core» is the biggest one is for classic wines and regions that could underline the level and style of the restaurant. «The trumps» is your favorite wines that always works. «The playground» is for experiments and exotic stuff. In Russia the most part of restaurants have a very high prices. For checking the level of impudence you should have some “markers” (popular wines that sells everywhere for ex.: Chablis, pinot grigio etc.) and compare their prices.
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
Read a lot, taste a lot, travel a lot. All these things are easier then you have a lot of friends who also “in the 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?
There are so many ways to get my attention! I prefer the honesty and frankness. The time of legends and fairy tales have gone. Most part of producers tell the same things and it’s difficult to remember/allocate someone. The identity could help to be remembered. And of course, all these things matter then their wines are good!)
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
I’m a blend. Sometimes I’m bright and fresh, sometimes complex and powerful, and sometimes I’m just “meunier” and don’t care what people think about me!)
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?
I’m not a collector, but always try to have some Chianti Classico’s and Rieslings. They are the best “weapons” for food pairing. And my wife fell in love to Nebbiolo, so I must have it) For desert island I’d prefer Spatlese from Mosel. It’s very multi-purpose! You could drink it with tropical fruits or without anything, use the bottle like a bat to hunt on the wild animals and marinate the meat after!)
Any interesting suggestions about magazines or online platform?
I could write a poem about it, but, shortly, the two biggest impressions in the last two years are wine-searcher.com and “vivino app”. The first one is the most useful site for me and the second is a crap.
Aleksandr Rassadkin (Александр Рассадкин)
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers – International Sommelier Positions – www.sommelier-jobs.com