Mr. Gennaro Buono – Italy (Head Sommelier)

May 3, 2018

Name: Gennaro Buono

Gennaro Buono

Nationality: Italian

At the moment: Italy

Head Sommelier

Contestant at the 2016 World Best Sommelier Competition



Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Any particular mentors at that time?

When i was a child my father owned some olive trees and also a piece of vineyard, so in some ways i started my first vintages, and my first wine production. After it i started my hotel school, and of all the school subjects the gastronomical one, and of course wine were my favourites! Honestly at that time I had no particular mentors, but i was always following the stories of great sommeliers in the world, great wine producers…there started my dream and in my mind there was always the idea in a future to be a great professional sommelier.

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?

Nowadays to be a professional sommelier first of all you should think that is a very complex job, with plenty of subjects and studies to do. To resume some skills for my opinion: 1)humility: never show “i know more than my guest!!!!” . 2) curiosity: there are always new products on the market. 3) be consistent: don’t stop to learn, guest expectations are always highers. 4) sense of managemant: beverage is big part of the business in a service activity, sometimes the biggest! 5)be open mind: share your informations with colleagues is a way to improve your knowledges. 6) go the extra mile: in wine world there are always opportunity for your career, depends only on you! There are severals great sommeliers that for me are source of inspiration, 2 are very close to me and for me is always a pleasure to share this passion: Piero Sattanino, best sommelier of the world is a person who has such a big experience, and in a very simple and clear way, can transmit years of professional job.

The second is Giuseppe Vaccarini, best sommelier of the world and ASPI president, he can taste in a professional way practically everything!He drove a lot of young sommeliers through the study, and his teaching skills is unique.

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?

First of all try always to get a position in great places, where you can learn from your colleagues and where you can serve high quality guest.

Do not stop at the first no! look always toward your goal and you’ll reach great results. Once you have a good position, share your experience with new young colleagues, or even at sommelier courses, you can always meet great sommeliers for your activity.


When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what’s in your opinion would be the best approach?

A great sommelier should be also a “psychologist”: you can meet people from all over the world, with so many need and drinking habits, and the thing is that you have to find the solution in few seconds sometimes. So the approach is to listen a lot, and do your best for your guest, even if sometimes you think: i would never drink this wine like this!!

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?

In fact i believe that known brands have high standards and a lot of study on the back, and so they can offer a constant quality. But i’m very open to new proposals, even if unknown: if the guest is happy why not!

What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?

I say again that guests habits are very different, but i see that nowadays guests love to be surprised. So serve the appropriate wine, or also other beverages in the right way and let your customer dream!

Should a Sommelier(e) taste the guest’s wine?

Yes, is a way to make sure the guest receives the wine in the best conditions

Where would you suggest a young Sommelier start searching for Sommelier positions on the internet in your country?

Make first of all a selection of all the restaurants and places you’re interested, look for the head sommelier’s contact, and send your cv and letter.

There are also a lot of agencies, but I prefer the first option

Wine list:

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 well integrated into the style, the area and the kind of service you offer at the place. It should be studied on different factors: location, kind of food served, kind of guests expected, space in wine cellar, budget, possibility to stock vintages and for how long, selling ability.

Sometimes the prices are very high, and sometimes also very low! You have to find the right match, and on this there is not an universal law, i think be honest with your guest will pay back you in the future.

How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?

Is part of the process, it happens in all the industries. We always should be open mind, look at the guests needs and be ready to change.

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?

Nice question! There are million of marketing and selling laws, i think the best way for the producer is to meet the sommelier, go together in the vineyard, taste the wine and let him live the story.

Favourite pick:

If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?

For sure Sangiovese! I think in my blood is a high percentage of Sangiovese….is my passion.

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?

You will always find a Brunello di Montalcino or a Chianti Classico, after for sure a red from Bordeaux, and a riesling. The desert island is that one where i’ll plant my own vineyard…

Any interesting suggestions about magazines or online platform?

Of course the fist is my own one:

Honestly as platform I use a lot “wine searcher” I find it very well made and professional. About magazines there’s a large choice, sometimes it depends a lot from the writers and the journalists, “ decanter” for examples is one that i like.

Gennaro Buono

@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers – International Sommelier Positions –

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