Name: Fabien Jacob
At the moment: ÚSA – Texas
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Any particular mentors at that time?
It was during the summer of 1993 I was 16 years old, I was working at my parents restaurant (I grew up on the north coast of France) when a friend of my dad came and asked him if I could go work for him just for tonight because his maître D and server got into a car accident. After the service he told me to stay and to wait for one of his friend who was arriving from Bordeaux, at that time I just wanted to get out and go hang out with my friends at the nightclub as my curfew was set for midnight. I did not have any particular mentor at that time as I did not know anything about wine and I was not drinking any alcohol at all. When his friend Showed up it was already past 11pm,he had a few Bordeaux wine and a wheel of cheese and some incredible artisanal sausages and pate with him. I of course did not know what to do so I just chugged the 1 st glass, I did not know what I was tasting at that time neither ( I later discover how special they were) So my dad friend Jose took the time to teach me about it, he explained to me how important it was to let the wine breath and to let it developing in the glass, to take the time to really enjoy the wine by smelling it and to appreciate the way the flavors are developing. I later discover that I was drinking some amazing first growth from the 60’s….
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?
I believe you should be humble, be a good listener and have a great sense of smell and memory and to leave your Ego at home to be able to provide the right wine to your customers. It’s important to give them the bottle they want and not what you would like to sell them. I personally like Scott Ota for it.
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 would suggest them to find a great Mentor and to start working under him or her ,I would look for a 1 or 2 star Michelin Restaurant for the exposure of those trophy wine and diversity on the list.it s always easier to learn once you are in contact of those products.
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what’s in your opinion would be the best approach?
Always ask if they are in the mood for white or red, dry or fruity and then start to close the sale by narrowing the selection regarding their preferences.
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 personally work with Riedel, I love their glasses for the restaurant. I use the Nebbiolo/Pinot noir and the XXL Cabernet glasses.
In the 1st one I use it for my chardonnay, Barolo and pinots noir and I use the XXL cab glass for all the other wine. If money was not an issue I would use Zalto.
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
There’s two approaches to the subject.
- Pair the wine to enhance the food.
- Pair the food to enhance the wine.
I personally like to compare the wine as a frame and the food as the piece of art, that being said it’s important to have the right frame to make your art look even better. Always look at the acid and the protein in the plate to be able to bring a wine that can either balance or enhance it.
Should a Sommelier(e) taste the guest’s wine?
I don’t personally taste my customers wine as I taste all the wine before I place it on the wine list. I also take the time to smell the wine as I open it, decant it or when I serve it if I use the OPTI WINE.
Where would you suggest a young Sommelier start searching for Sommelier positions on the internet in your country?
I really enjoy your website, you are doing a great job at offering great position all over the world.
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 markups?
The key ingredients to me is to respect the style of the food you are serving, I’m now working in a Steakhouse so my wine list is oriented toward opulent wine and bigger style that I really enjoy at home. As far as mark ups I rather do more volume at a lower markup then try to gauge my customers and not have any rotation in my inventory.
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
I like to travel to the wine region around the world and I read many magazines. I also like to attend wine seminars and learn a lot from the winemaker or the workers.
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 needs to be true to the area where it’s from and to its varietal base. If you are tasting me on a pinot noir but it tastes like a merlot or a mavrodaphne I would not like it.
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
I would be a cabernet Sauvignon as I like to adapt myself to the area I’m in.
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 type of wine are, French Pinot Noir, Bordeaux and Loire Valley wine.
For a desert island wine I would choose something easy to sip on like Domaine Ott Romassan Bandol Rose.
Any interesting suggestions about magazines or online platform?
Guild Somm, Decanter, Vigneron, Wine Spectator, Fine Wine, Wine and spirit, the Somm Journal.
Zeitgeist Sommeliers – www.sommelier-jobs.com
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers – International Sommelier Positions – www.sommelier-jobs.com