Name: Edmond Gasser
At the moment: Switzerland
Sommelier – 2015 young Sommelier of the year in Germany
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Any particular mentors at that time?
After my High School Diploma, I wanted to be a Chef de cuisine, I was always fascinated by my mother, cooking and mixing all kinds of ingredients and aromas. After my hospitality and catering bachelor, I decided to try an extra year in sommellerie considering it as an obvious complement to cooking.
Here comes my first Mentor : Monsieur Franck Ramage ,my sommellerie teacher.
During this year I learned an amazing array of skills and knowledge about wines of course but also about all what is around, that is to say, terroir, geology, climate, guests psychology… It was the first step… the basics. After that, each experience, from Paris, with Thierry Hamon, through Munich, with Stephane Thuriot, to Geneva, with Vincent Debergé, made me create my own palate using all my mentors as reference.
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?
Behind a rich and exhaustive knowledge about wine, the most important skills are for me sensitivity and curiosity. Every sommelier should be capable of understanding his guests and give pleasure. Each host is different and the same person can be in different moods ; we must be innovative. That is service personnalisation.
During these first years as a sommelier, I must say that I was particularly impressed by Eric Beaumard ,Restaurant Director in Le George V. It took him no more than a minute to analyzed a table !
But once again there is more than one way to approach the exercise, each protagonist gives his own signature to the Service. In Munich, with Stéphane Thuriot I learned as much as in Paris, it was just another way to feel the service.
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?
Well, we all have personalities we want to work with. My main advice would be to try to find a mentor, a model who gives you the first burst. It was very enriching for me to learn with masters in Paris, in Munich and now in Geneva !
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what’s in your opinion would be the best approach?
The first thing is to listen carefully the words of your guest. Each palate is different, that is something dry for a guest is maybe a tiny little bit sweet for me. Before I recommend a wine I discuss with the guest, not necessarily about wine but about him and his taste in general. After this interaction I can give some advices.
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 ! If we think about how long and how difficult is the production of a singular wine, then how important is the storage, it would be an heresia to serve such a delicate and elaborate product in a common glass !! I choose the glass according to the type of wine (grape variety, age, temperature…) The two leaders at the moment are Riedel and Zwiesel. Both offer a large selection of glasses. Zalto is also very fine for some models like the burgundy glasses that are for me the best on the market at that time. We also try to find small firms producing special glasses, like Darsonville for champagne.
A glass has to be elegant, fine and ergonomic.
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
Use the basics first and then try to be more precise and personal. A hint of craziness is always good !!! For instance : a port wine goes very well with a blue cheese, that is the base. But more precisely with a gorgonzola ? a delicate Coteaux du Layon to pair with the creamy and smooth aspect of this blue ! And with a Stilton ? Why not a turfy whisky from islay to balance the shalky saltiness of this cheese ?
Should a Sommelier(e) taste the guest’s wine?
Of course , it is a part of our job to offer a wine without defect and it is as well for us an opportunity to manage and check our cellar, tasting the evolution of wines !!
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?
A wine list should be focused on the close regions. The winelist is the reflection of sommelier’s wine philosophy but it should not be too restrictive. If I love nature wine for instance, I will for sure have some of them on the list but not only ! The bestsellers, of course ! but also small winemakers that are not so well known to offer a rich range of tastes. The calculation has to be fair. Business, of course, but wine has to stay affordable. There are too many restaurants today where the clients drink just a glass of wine because of their budget. That is suicide for a restaurant because it destroys the main point : the pairing between food and wine. What is more gratifying than seeing clients happy to be in your restaurant, enjoying nice food and drinking fine wines ?! To determine markups, I use to add the taxes and multiply by 3.
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
Tasting, reading and discussing ! I am always curious when I hear a guest, a winemaker, a friend or someone else talking about something he discovered or experienced. There is today a huge choice of wine in the world and step by step, discussing and tasting we find some little pearls. The press is also important. I read different types of magazines in order to have the largest idea as possible of the « journalist market ».It is the only way to stay competitive. Keep your mind fresh !
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?
Winemakers and wines sincerity. Tasting new wines, it has to be unique ! Make up is not interesting. Gastronomie needs fine wines with identity, not necessarily perfect in terms of technique (no big defects of course) but true. I always think of my guests tasting a new wine : what would be their reaction, would it pair with some courses of the menu, is it relevant for the actual list ? The final goal is to sell the wine at the best price to a happy guest !
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
Probably a Syrah grape. It is a wonderful variety for gastronomy because it changes depending on the terroir ( Sand, slates, granites…). A feminine face with the peony, violet and fresh berries’ notes but as well masculine nuance of pepper, earth and smoke.
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?
Difficult question. The first would be a dry Riesling and more precisely a great terroir in the Nahe region in Germany. The magic Riesling Halenberg 2011 from Monsieur Schönleber, vibrating wine with an amazing mineral and precise structure. As second the majestic Syrah from Cote Rôtie : Cote Brune 1991 from Domaine Jamet, an oriental market with noble vegetal variations and a hint of wild ! At least, a Myth : Cheval Blanc 1947. The peak, the symbol of grandeur !
My desert island wine would be a local grape from Néméa in Peloponnese : An Agiorgitiko reserve 2005 form Parparoussis Winery. Behind a rustic appearance, we discover a beautiful complexity that evoques thymian, rosemary, kirsch, potpourri and mint. A wine to discover !
Any interesting suggestions about magazines or online platform?
Le rouge et le blanc is for me the best magazine dedicated to wine.
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers – International Sommelier Positions – www.sommelier-jobs.com
Dominik Kozlik e.U.
4020 Linz, Austria