Name: Eric Eybert
At the moment: United Arab Emirates – Dubai
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 thanks to my father at the youngest age. He used to share with me one sip of his glass and my palate start to get used to the taste of wine at an early stage. In my adolescence when most of my friends were drinking beer, I was drinking wine. At this time I spent a lot of time studying at the university, law, economy or accounting however I was not passionate and my results were poor. One day my father that was desperate to see me wasting my time at school offer me to join a one year training to become winemaker and I found the idea amazing so I graduate as winemaker and went for a 6 month internship in South of France.
I had then an opportunity to move to South America where I worked on the development of a wine software and then I represent a french cooperage for the Chilean market. After almost four years I decide it was time to go back home. A week after my comeback I met one of my friend who during the time I was in Chile, became Best European sommelier and MOF « Franck Thomas » I was amazed. In our conversation he mentioned that he will become a teacher and he will launch a training program in few month to promote the sommellerie in Nice. Of course I decide to be part of this new adventure and I follow his one year training and I graduated in sommellerie the year after. Franck offered me to work with him on several project he had at this time (restaurant opening and la Clef du Vin a device that speed the ageing of wine to understand its potential of ageing). Finally after another year together with Franck I decide it was time for me to be on my own and this is how I start my career in the industry.
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?
What makes a great sommelier is of course his passion for the industry and his desire to share his passion with others. He is someone who is curious, perfectionist, analytical, expressive, knowledgeable and respect his guests. Other colleagues who have inspired me was Pascal Paulz, head sommelier at L’oasis in Mandelieu la Napoule, France. He shared his vision about organic and biodynamic wines and introduce me some producers that were fighting against the system and preferred to sell their wine as Vin de Table rather than AOC in order to keep their identity and avoid standardisation of taste.
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 will suggest to young sommelier to find a mentor, someone who can guide them at least in the beginning of their career because sommellerie has a big part of transmission, something that you cannot learn in book.
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what’s in your opinion would be the best approach?
Before to approach the guest, find out what the guest ordered so u can make up your mind about what to offer. Once you approach the guest understand what are the guest preferences in 3 questions and then do your proposal of 2 to 3 wine maximum with different range of prices starting from the most expensive to the cheapest.
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?
Regarding glassware it depends of the style of restaurant (casual, fine dining, theme restaurant etc…) My personal preferences for fine dining goes to Riedel or Spiegelau and for more casual restaurant I recently discovered Arnaud Barrate that has a very original range of glasses that can fit perfectly in bistro or wine bar.
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food
When it comes to pairing food I have 2 approaches, vertical or horizontal. Horizontal will be to find a wine that has pretty much the same character than the food however it can be boring and heavy (work better with light food) or the vertical that tends to balance some of the excess of the dish, like fat, saltiness or spiciness which is more exciting and surprising (Usually stronger dishes or type of cuisine). Most important the wine and the food should balance each other and speak from the same tone of voice.
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?
A good wine list is a wine selection that match the food and philosophy of the venue with some classic and popular wine. Range of price should be in equation with average food check usually 1/3 of the food in average. Mark ups are also based on style and philosophy of restaurant. Bistro, wine bar should be less aggressive than fine dining who have usually higher cost.
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
In order to understand the changes in the industry I travel to wine region as much as possible, go to wine fair like Vinexpo on regular basis, read as many books as possible about what is happening in the industry etc…
At the moment I’m willing to go to Georgia which is inspiring new way of making wine however those techniques are very traditional there, like orange wine which is a white wine aged on his skin up to 6 month in Qvevri amphora.
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?
To get my attention you rather have an ecological and original way of making wine. The rest is all about the philosophy of the winemaker and his message through his wine. I love the idea of terroir in the french definition with no excess of alcohol, wood or techniques. I like producer who respect their grapes and once harvested do the minimum interventions. I appreciate producer who have crazy ideas like to reintroduce ungrafted vines or unusual density of production, do white wine with grape that are more famous for red like Cabernet Sauvignon etc…
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
If I was a wine, I wish I would be a blanc de blancs from champagne which is a wine that can be drunk in any circumstances.
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 top 3 wines. Champagne for its festive character, Pinot Noir for its capacity to express the terroir and unsulfite wines.
On a desert Island I will take a wine of meditation. Montrachet most probably as most of the food available might be fish and hopefully crayfish, one of my favourite delight.
Voila, I hope my testimony will inspire some of the visitor of your website. Wine is an invitation to travel, so if you like wine, you probably love to travel and meet new people who fight for their identity, diversity of taste and tradition.
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers – International Sommelier Positions – www.sommelier-jobs.com