Name: Jacobo Arllentar Vitko
At the moment: Peru
Website: Jacobo Vitko
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Any particular mentors at that time?
I used to live in Urubamba and we had access to a lot of vegetation and we also had many beehives, that kind of environment stimulated my passion for details and also helped me develop my curiosity about the little things and details in life. When I was very young, I loved going into the kitchen to help my grandmother and my mother prepare different foods, I loved to observe the insects and that perhaps unintentionally stimulated my senses that I learned to educate later in college. When we arrived to Lima I decided to study at Le Cordon Bleu where I met two people who helped me develop not only my passion for wine but also my love for this world, they are Jorge Irribarren and Jose Bracamonte, two Peruvians who are passionate Sommeliers in this world and transmit that passion each one with its own eloquence. Later I worked at Maido Restaurant and met Josep Roca who inadvertently helped me polish my style and I say unintentionally because he was not involved in this, I learned from his work and I developed my own personality in this area, of course I’m still on my way.
What specific traits or skills should a Sommelier (e) possess for professional performance and is there any person with those qualities you especially admire within the wine industry?
Humility, perseverance, peace, harmony, patience, passion, dedication and much sympathy.
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 think that the most important thing is never stop learning and persevere in what you crave for or want. The truth is that this way was difficult for me and it still is, but I like what I do and that keeps me reinventing myself every day , it nourishes me and pulls me forward to continue learning and knowing . It is a work of great sacrifice but a sacrifice that gives pleasure … so my best recommendation would be, that whoever starts this path has to put all the passion they can find and never give up and keep inventing themselves every day to be better. It is not important to be the best ever, but better than yesterday, and most importantly, it is to give pleasure to our guests and if that gives you joy and pleasure it means you have done an excellent job as a sommelier and a person.
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what’s in your opinion would be the best approach?
I love meeting people before suggesting anything to them. A few questions sometimes are enough to understand the client and make the right recommendation. On the other hand, a good conversation helps a lot also because wine is liquid culture; the important thing is to say what one knows and sells what one feels.
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?
I believe that a good crystal glass is very important to appreciate wine, the best you can treat wine, the best will be both in uncorking and enjoying it, another thing that is very important is polishing the glass and furthermore that there are no fragrances in order to avoid damaging the perception of the wine to taste. I would recommend Riedel without a doubt but I am always open to trying new glassware.
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
It is very important to have clear concepts to avoid mistakes, if one understands the food well and understands well the wine that one will serve I don’t think there can be any drawbacks. It is very important to make some tests before deciding anything, what we have in mind can be wonderful but it could go wrong. The pairing is like cooking in front of the dinner guest, each element can add or subtract to the whole experience.
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 is determined by the food offered by the establishment and in my opinion the type and style of food, it is also important to consider the seasons, the list has to change accordingly. Prices vary according to the culinary proposal. On the other hand, it is important to maintain the prices so your guests feel comfortable drinking in your place. Prices say a lot about a sommelier and his experience. The guests needs to trust in you to be able to enjoy and if he sees the prices and feels they are fair, he will trust you and know you are not cheating . Prices are an act of trust and can achieve your customer’s loyalty and increase their wine consumption
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
As I said before you always have to reinvent yourself. You have to read a lot and you have to like what you do to do for pleasure and not out of obligation and things always will turn out well no matter what changes in the industry.
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?
The most important thing is sincerity. I like to research a lot about the wines that I recommend and I like to see passion in the final work. The most important thing is the dedication that one puts down , if the wine is a living being, it must be treated as such, you have to feel the passion in the product and it is also very important the peculiarity of it. We sell experiences as sommeliers and raw materials have to given to us great craftsmen, who take pride in what they do. So as I said before, being real and authentic is the most important thing here.
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
I consider myself a Pinot Noir, it is a difficult grape to grow and become wine, it is a temperamental variety and is one of the varieties that generate more passion among connoisseurs worldwide. I am sure that every grower of grapes would like to produce high quality of grapes of this variety at least once in their career. On the other hand, it is important for the production of Champagne, which is considered one of the finest wines in the world of bubbles. I also consider myself a Syrah, this variety remains one of the most noble and legendary for their ability to age majestically for decades.
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?
-2012 San Pedro de Yacochuya, Torrontes, Valle de Cafayate, Salta, Argentina.
-2010 Two Hands Angels’ Share Shiraz McLaren Vale, Australia.
-1990 Chateau Margaux, Margaux. Francia
-2011 Inniskillin Gold Label Oak Aged Vidal Icewine, Niagara Peninsula, Canada.
Any interesting suggestions about magazines or online platform?
For those who are starting in the world of wines, I would recommend ´”Wine for Dummies”, it´s a pretty good book and it will give you a pretty good start on the subject, you will then have to get a little deeper into the subject so I would recommend these titles: The Oxford Companion to Wine, Larousse wine, The World Back of Wine, The New Sotheby’s wine Encyclopedia, wine Bible and a very good paperback is the small Larousse of wines.
If you want to search the internet for some wine to know more, and where to get it and costs, etc. I truly recommend this page: http://www.wine-searcher.com/.
On the other hand, just start looking for more information everywhere, information is abundant and there is a lot for you to find and get your own ideas to support your recommendations.
Jacobo Arllentar Vitko
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers – International Sommelier Positions – www.sommelier-jobs.com