Mr. Harald Wiesmann – Germany / Indonesia (Chef Sommelier)

May 7, 2018

Name: Harald Wiesmann

Harald Wiesmann

Nationality: German

At the moment: Indonesia

Chef Sommelier 

link: Harald Wiesmann


Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry?

I was born in a town in the wine area of Franconia, so as a little boy already I stole grapes from vineyards. Also our area has been famous to make apple wine. My father made apple wine in his cellar which I did get to drink already with 2 years of age. I started with 15 in 1972 as apprentice in a one star Michelin Restaurant and here we had the best Burgundian white and red wines and of course many good wines from Franconia.

Any particular mentors at that time?

My Head Waiter and Instructor Rainer Schmidt. I learned practically everything from him. How to enjoy a meal. How to start speaking about wine, how to carve, how to flambé and to serve all of this. It was the old now forgotten school of high service.

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 see the Sommelier as a part of a waiter. Which means a real waiter is a Sommelier and a good server and he knows about food and he knows people from around the world and their preferences and he can speak at least 2 languages and he is a wonderful as a host. Besides this he has traveled a lot, went to wine fairs, to wineries and schooled himself by eating and tasting in the same time wines.

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 believe it is important to start the next job with a wine list which has been broader in the collection than the previous one.

– Looking for a wine list in a Restaurant where wines are on you have no clout and learn about it.

– Work in wine areas with famous wines for 1-2 years and change.

– Look for real old Sommeliers with lots of experience because of their work knowledge.

– Work for a while in a winery.


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

1, white or red wine or…. because today people like to drink with Fish also a red wine.

2, To ask the guest back, what are his/her preferred wines.

3, Ask about the character of the wine, dry, very dry, fruity dry, Tannins and so on.

4, Show 3 different wines which I believe are suitable to find out the price range.

5, Suggest more wines on the price the guest has said maybe.

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 have a high opinion on glasses. So far Riedel has been the best for me. Nevertheless it is the impression the guest will have with glasses. So as more tall, big the glasses are as more appreciation is from the guest side.

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

That is a difficult question. I believe the Sommelier should taste all the wines he recommended first, especially the expensive ones. Other wines he should taste are if he had difficulties in the past with them. Otherwise also ask for permission with the guest.

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

I have worked now 11 years in Indonesia and may say, that this Country is still in children’s shoes of having real Sommeliers. I, so far would say, there are maybe 5 people who could call themselves Sommelier Assistants and 2 Sommeliers. Nevertheless we have about 100 who call themselves Sommeliers. With this I like to say. Sommeliers should first be with a real Sommelier to learn and to learn in Indonesia. Best is actually to find out who has a Wine Spectator Award for his wine list and start there to work.

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 markups?

For the wine list I believe the Sommeliers should choose between a Grape variety wine list and an area wine list. For me works best with the Areas. However in Asia people are more oriented for grapes too. I believe to input wine maps in wine list is also important, especially in countries like Indonesia where people have often no clout where the wine is coming from. The year is important and the price of course. Unfortunately the marks up are very often not decided by the Sommelier but by the Hotel Company he/she is working for. It is the Sommelier therefore to find great wines with top quality and healthy prices.

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

By visiting wine areas, wine fairs, wineries and reading. Go to tastings and ask many questions. We also organize in one year up to 4-5 wine and dines of more or less famous wineries. I am also a little writer myself. Since 5 years I have a page in the Magazine NOW BALI which is called my Inner Voice. That also keeps me busy of thinking for wines.

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?

In Indonesia it takes up to one year to inscribe a new wine with the government. It is very dough here. Best way here is to organize a wine and dine with the producer and be listed in the wine list of a famous Restaurant. Nevertheless wine suppliers in Indonesia do organize from time to time also wine tastings.

Favourite pick:

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

If I were a wine I would be like a Trockenbeerenauslese, I like to be sweet as a kiss, be liked by most of the people, if children will admire me and I give wine joy for so many years, yes maybe even for 200 years long. WOW what a history I will see.

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?

1, Silvaner, Würzburger Stein GG, Bürgerspital, Germany

2, Harlan Estate, Napa Valley, USA

3, Bruno Giacosa Barolo any year possible. Piedmont, Italy

Our Island Desert wine in Bali is called Pinot de Bali from the winery of Hatten. the taste like a Port wine and is actually quite good.

Any interesting suggestions about magazines or online platform?

Your Web is very good. Decanter I like very much!

Harald Wiesmann

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

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