Name: George Loukakis
At the moment: Cyprus
Head Sommelier & Consultant
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Any particular mentors at that time?
First ever wine that i have tried was the GTR from Rosemount, so as you understand my completely amateur nose and palate were really surprised with those powerful aromas. Although my start was more inspiring, at the of 90’s i was watching the National Contest for the Best Sommelier in Greece -my uncle won it – so afterwards i told him, look this is what i want to do. All these at the age of 17! My uncle – Nick Loukakis – was and is my mentor.
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?
Definitely, to be humble and listen to everybody what they have to say. A Sommelier for sure is studying a lot, but if you are not doing visits around winemaking areas you will not learn! My opinion is that the natural talent on tasting is not more than 5%, the rest you developed it. The talent is to be organized, organized with your memory for sure.
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?
There are so many places nowadays that you can start over your career as Commis Sommelier. Put down, what do you want: a nice quiet area and work next to a good sommelier and have no distractions or a busy town city work along to good sommeliers but with lots of distractions. Listen and listen, filter what not to do!
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what’s in your opinion would be the best approach?
There is not a best approach, is to ask his needs. Like, which wine did you liked lately? Would you like a wine that is lighter and fruity in style or rich, dense? Would you like something local?
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?
The glasses i am working and that they are really good for busy restaurants are the Chef & Sommelier, there new lines are outstanding. Ok, definitely brands like Riedel and Zalto are an extra and a good Sommelier always has on the rack!
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
The cooking method, how the main product is it cooked? Grilled, oven, braised? Start from that and your pairings will be amazingly tasty.
Should a Sommelier(e) taste the guest’s wine?
Sommelier’s job, is to ensure quality on every single beverage that is been served. You are informing the guest that you will trying their wine to the case that maybe has an issue. A sommelier can reset his palate, the guest will continue his meal with not that good taste in the case of an issue. So yes we have to , we are obligated to.
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?
You start your list with local wines if any, food pairings secondly and how market works – give to the guest the opportunity to explore and discover especially with the by the glass program. On the business without well trained Sommeliers that can have strong opinion about pricing, always this problem will be existing. Fast and popular wines with an attractive markup. Wines that are not popular with less and goes on. Different markup on wines under 50euro and different on over, you can’t work with specific markup to all.
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
Research through internet, social media, visiting wine fairs.
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?
Trying the wine as possible as together with the winemaker. They why of all will appear in the glass.
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
Cabernet Franc! Silent, supportive, elegant but powerful if you treat me well. As spicy as will be attractive. Mysterious till you search for me.
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?
To be very honest i don’t have favourites. In my house you can find rare beauties or everyday drinking wines ok i have to say something is to keep as long as i can wines i want to see the evolution of wine, especially on white ones.
Desert island wine, hmm hard to choose; ok a wine with higher acidity to keep my palate at a level of freshness like wines from Greece from Santorini island.
Any interesting suggestions about magazines or online platform?
New wines of Greece
The wine cellar insider
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers – International Sommelier Positions – www.sommelier-jobs.com
Dominik Kozlik e.U.
4020 Linz, Austria