Zeitgeist Sommelier

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  • Ned Goodwin – UK/Australia – Master of Wine(current)

Name: Ned Goodwin

Nationality: British

At the moment: Australia

Master of Wine – Commentator / Presenter / Writer / Critic / Educator with an Opinion

Interesting link about Wine Diamonds: click

 

Prerequisite:

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

No, I was 7.

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?

The confidence to approach a table, open their mouths and offer suggestions. As simple as that. A sommelier’s role is to bring wine to life if the customer wants it. Otherwise, to shut up and to facilitate an enjoyable experience. Arguably the greatest skill is the latter. Personal anecdotes, a few salient points about the wine: texture, taste and tales about the winemaker’s dog…anything. These points humanise wine. The finest sommeliers I have worked with are David Rosoff, formerly of Michael’s LA and Tim Kopec, during my time at NY’s Veritas.

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?

Move to New York where one can experience the great wines of the world while making money. Read broadly while tasting with an open mind. We are all subject to prejudices, but those who smile while having their prejudices destroyed are those who will go far. Love wine!

Active:

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

Empathy: what do you generally like to drink? What are you eating? What is your budget? Then suggest stylistically synergistic wines, albeit, expressions that are somewhat different. Expand their horizons while facilitating their enjoyment. Gauge the customer type.For example, customer likes Pinot; suggest older Grenache and Nebbiolo. Take the customer on an adventure, but only if he/she want to come.

What’s your philosophy about glasses? There are too many types and most are marketing ploys to exploit the wine lover’s obsession with minutiae.

Are you working with well known brands or are you considering new brands as well and how do you determine? I simply want a single white glass and two red shapes: Cab. type for Cab, Syrah, Zweigelt…whatever; then Pinot for Pinot. Grenache, Nebbiolo etc…

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

Little. I increasingly find this topic the most banal of the wine experience. Approaching wine with physiological exactitudes and a certitude of right and wrong is surely not what wine is about and what we should be offering as wine professionals. My rules of thumb are simply that red wine with oysters is a disaster; similar weights across food and wine is recommended, while exploring textures; Japanese foods / umami and Champagne delicious…but so is fried chicken with fizz!

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

Yes. Preferably the most expensive! I am joking, of course. However, if a sommelier cannot guarantee the quality of the wines to be served it detracts from the customer and sommelier experience. Why else would we work in this profession? The people and places of wine are wonderful but few of us are ever going to make much money, so be sure to taste as much good wine as you can while maximising the customer experience: vetting the wine quality and reassuring.

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

No idea, to be honest. In my experience, it was always preferable to gauge work possibilities by visiting the restaurant/work place.

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

Have a strong theme! A wine list does not have to have something for everybody and nor does it need, necessarily, to represent every idiom of wine. This said, within the framework, it should have a strong mission statement, categories based on texture and taste rather than varieties, simple contemporary font, some ‘anchors’ that people can grasp while serving as platforms to suggest alternative options similarly styled and well-trained floor-staff / sommeliers that can bring it all to life. A wine list is only as good as those who can sell it! Prices depend on rent and wages. Cities such as Hong Kong, while having the world’s greatest bargains in stores and at the secondary level, also boasts the world’s highest wine prices in restaurants. Somebody has to pay the rent!

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

Read, travel, as questions and listen to answers; taste, write and ably research what I am writing about.

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?

Face to face interaction. Make an effort! Vineyards alone seldom get my attention, although a holistic and healthy philosophical approach to the land always piques my respect. Cullen in Margaret River, for example, is a stunning biodynamically farmed vineyard. The devotion to its health surely makes the wines taste better.

Favourite pick:

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

Grenache: always delicious and versatile across a litany of moods: simple and quaffable, to profound and compelling. Moreover, it lives in beautiful sunny places.

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?

No top 3, but plenty of Piemonte, southern Rhône, Loire, southern Italian and Australian contemporary minimal stuff from Victoria and Tasmania. Love Gredos, too! The proverbial desert island wine-ignoring the fact that it IS a desert island-would be ‘78 Rayas, ‘02 Coche-Dury Corton-Charlemagne or ‘76 McWilliams Old Paddock and Old Hill Shiraz, a shocking vintage but the first wine that moved me and with that, the first embedded with an intangible beauty that I would require lonely, on the island.

Any interesting suggestions about magazines or online platform?

I enjoy Vinous. I think Walter Speller on Jancis’’ platform ‘Purple Pages’ is a Fine commentator on things Italian.

 

Ned Goodwin

 

@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers – www.sommelier-jobs.com

 

 

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