Name: Narimantas Miezys
At the moment: Lithuania
Sommelier – 2015 Sommelier of the year in Lithuania
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Any particular mentors at that time?
I was 18 and I was looking for a short summer job. I have started at a local wine bar which had just opened a couple weeks ago. The wine bar evolved into a restaurant, my knowledge grew and in a couple of years I became the sommelier in that place. Before that I only drank red currant wine from my father’s basement…
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?
He/She should have the passion to learn. He should also be a good psychologist, and sales person.
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?
Start at home. Learn the basics. Then – repeat the basics. And then move abroad to work for a couple of years to get the international experience. And visit as many wine regions and winemakers a You can.
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what’s in your opinion would be the best approach?
I start by describing the food and what kind of wine the guest should need. Then I give a couple suggestions (different grapes, countries) and let the guest choose. If the guest asks to compare two or three wines – I try to explain what they are like and what they will do to the food. A satisfied guest – this is what I am looking for…
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?
Currently I am working with Riedel glasses. I have a lot of different styles and types of glasses to express the best of each wine. For the time being I am really happy with their quality.
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
My first advice: if You don’t know – it is better to ask someone who does…
And if You don’t like the advice – You can always refuse it…
Second: try to imagine – that would I like to have with this dishes? And just go for it…
Should a Sommelier(e) taste the guest’s wine?
Yes. But before tasting the sommelier has to inform the guest, that he is about to do that…
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?
What I would seek in a wine list – structure. You want to understand the wine list and why it is like so. Is it make to reflect the cuisine, the region where the restaurant is established? Is it focusing on the big names, or small players? What is it trying to represent and will the wines combine with the food. Is it structured by country, or by grape, or by the style of the wine? This is the most important…
Personally I do not think the pricing is ridiculous. Rather the customer is willing to pay the price rather not. If not – the restaurant does not sell the wine – money is not earned – the management has to take action. By choosing to pay or not to pay we show that do we think about this restaurant.
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
Reading online, and attending as much tastings as possible. At least staying with the flow of the news lets You not to stay behind in the wine world.
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?
It would get my attention because it is new and I have never tasted it. But is it worth to be on the list depends on same usual things – how does it taste, what does it represent and is it worth the money. If I can find an alternative (same region, grape, type, or philosophy)- then it is the matter of price. But if the winemaker is showing a different philosophy, techniques or he expresses his values – then he has the attention.
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
Riesling. For it’s structure, balance and finesse. Because it is elegant and sharp at the same time…
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?
Champagnes, German and Austrian Rieslings and white burgundies are my top priority… They account for the biggest amount of my stock. But they finish so quickly…
J.J. Prum Riesling Kabinett – that is my desert island wine. Smooth, crispy, mineralic, light, fruity and ripe – what else can You ask for?…
Any interesting suggestions about magazines or online platform?
Suggestion – read as much as You can everywhere You can. Sometimes it seems that the more I read – the less I know…
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers – International Sommelier Positions – www.sommelier-jobs.com