Name: Antonio Palmarini
At the moment: UK
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Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Any particular mentors at that time?
I have been drinking Montepulciano and Trebbiano D’Abruzzo since I was teenager but who really let me change the vision of the wine has been my former French general manager called Jean-Claude Ali-Cherif. He has taught me the first steps of the wine industry as how to describe the wine, which flavors it has, which aroma and how the palate can be actually used for detect body, acidity, alcohol, concentration, length beside of course the aromas. Since then an huge world got open in front of me and I started to study wine for the WSET till quitting the diploma at only 1 exam away for concentrate my energy to my own project, my video course on line…
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?
To be a good somm I strongly believe that you need to have a big passion, and I deep love for wine. This comes naturally, and if you don’t have you will never be a good knowledgeable somm. The passion drives you to attend as many as possible wine tastings, masterclasses, travel and visit wineries around the world during your personal holidays. Basically it’s a 365 days a year lifestyle.
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?
To young somms I would advice to look for a job in large cities of their own country otherwise prepare a luggage and try abroad, perhaps San Francisco, Los Angeles or New York in USA if you are still young, Belgium, Luxembourg and Monaco if you speak French and you want to stay in Europe otherwise Hong Kong or Singapore if you like Asia. Premium wines are pretty much sold in these cities.
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what’s in your opinion would be the best approach?
May vary depending on their body language, if I see them curious about wine but a bit anxious I may suggest medium priced wines of different country and varieties explaining briefly the differences. If a customer seems confident instead I may ask which grape variety or country he prefers, or if he want me to suggest a wine that pair well with their food. I think is vital important to understand what the customer is looking for before suggesting something we personally like, as in the end they will drink and pay the wine not us sommeliers!
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?
Where I work at moment I don’t have the glassware I wish, however the glass shapes are really important, more than the brand! The selection can be endless but I remain pretty simple on that and I think the glasses which every wine focused restaurant can’t do without are 5
1 The Bordeaux glass, for bordeaux blend, Syrah ect.
2 The rounder Burgundy glass, for Burgundy white and red variety plus Nebbiolo, Sangiovese Grosso and Nerello Mascalese
3 The smaller Aromatic glass, for Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Viognier, Friuli-Venezia Giulia white blends etc.
4 A larger flute shaped glass, for vintage Champagne, Vintage Cava, Vintage Franciacorta, Vintage Trentodoc etc.
5 A nice looking standard glass, for any other still wines which are less complex including sparkling as Prosecco and Non Vintage Champagne
6 The ISO tasting glass, obviously for the somm to taste any wine it opens
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
I would advice to do not get to much stressed about it as is very personal! Obviously there are many little rules that must be followed as light bodied wines with light food, high acid wine with fatty food, tannic reds with juicy meat, light creamy nihon-shu (Japanese Saké) with row fish, aromatic wine or sake with spicy food and many more always works, but if you don’t like the wine or sake you won’t like the pairing isn’t it?
Should a Sommelier(e) taste the guest’s wine?
A sommelier needs to deliver the best quality possible at the table, and as the chef taste the sauces before leaving the kitchen, yes the somm must taste the wine once is opened always asking the customer if he doesn’t mind, as nice manners are compulsory!
Where would you suggest a young Sommelier start searching for Sommelier positions on the internet in your country?
If he wants to find an adventure around the world I suggest to try sommelier-jobs.com but in UK, where I live since 2010, I would suggest caterer
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?
Key ingredients? More wine styles and grape varieties as possible in order to never let the customer bored as I would have always something different to suggest. The ridiculous price in the restaurants is a real problem as I had many customers complaint about that, saying that he/she could find the same bottle on-line for 4 times cheaper. But these are the rules set by the owners of the restaurant, we suggest, serve and try to deliver the best service possible and hoping the experience was worth it.
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
Never stop and never give up! Always ready to open a new book and get up to date with new wine and sake trends, attend wine tasting, travel in wine regions and to do that you need real passion which must come natural.
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?
Quality is the answer! Wine must not be necessary the finest to get the attention as there are many really good entry level wines that are well made. Than if the quality is affordable, its even better!
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
I would be a Montepulciano. That’s a versatile grape, multi-tasking like me, bold and rich, but in the same time fruity and enjoyable when not on the mood with really harsh tannins!
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?
At home i always have at least a Mosel Riesling which is also a my desert island wine. However the other two wines that never miss in my wine cellar is a Burgundian Pinot Noir and a premium Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
Any interesting suggestions about magazines or online platform?
Yes my suggestion is to follow me on instagram at palmavini_wine_doctor as I will be launching within December 2019 an innovative video course on-line about wine called QUICK WINe. It will be the most exciting and unique video course in the market with wine of the present and the future! Stay tuned for more
Antonio Frank Palmarini
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers – www.sommelier-jobs.com