Name: Yanna Deliere
President – Association Suisse Des Sommeliers Professionnels-ASSP
At the moment: Switzerland (Suisse)
Own Website: Le Journal du Sommelier at click
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Did you have any particular mentors?
I was trained in a hotel management school so I very quickly learned the basics of sommelier profession.
My passion came later. I arrived in Switzerland at the age of 19. I discovered here a diversity and a richness of wines and terroirs, unknown in the rest of the world. It began to stimulate my curiosity. I then took a in-depth training course to improve my knowledge in this field. In parallel, I worked in a wine-growing domain: the Domaine de la Maison du Moulin. It was the winegrower from this vineyard, Yannick Passas, who taught me the price to be paid to make your own wine. All the sacrifices, risks and working hours behind each bottle… You need to live it to understand ! This experience made me want to
become an ambassador for those artists.
What specific traits or skills should a Sommelier(e) possess for professional performance and is there any person with those qualities you especially admire within the wine industry?
A sommelier must be curious. He must always move forward to discover new products. A sommelier of great humility has always instilled respect to me : Olivier Poussier, best sommelier in the world 2000. He once said to me, “The hardest thing is not to become the best sommelier in the world, but it is to stay that way.”
What would be your advice to a young Sommelier(e).How to find a good position at home or abroad? Any further tips?
There is a large network of sommeliers grouped together by the ASI (Asssociation Sommelier Internationnal).
In each country, a national association represents the domestic sommeliers. For a young sommelier in a foreign country or at home, the first network to be integrated is the local association. Those associations regularly organize
tastings and Masterclasses. So beyond the network, those meetings allow participants to learn new things.
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what, in your opinion, would be the best approach?
The job of sommelier is a lot of psychology. You have to sell to the customer what he wants to buy. It sounds simple but sometimes the customer has no idea of what he wants. You have to identify him, know what he likes, what he doesn’t like. Understand the meal atmosphere: for business, family, couples… And of course the budget is also important.
Often the sommelier has only a short time to understand his customer, it is necessary to be fast and right to gain his trust. In this case, observation and listening are essential.
What is your philosophy about glasses? Are you working with well known brands or are you considering new brands as well. How do you decide?
The glass is an integral part of the show and the experience. It is used to enhance the value of the
product, both for tasting but also for the visual and touch. He puts the wine at its best.
Beautiful, thin and elegant glasses will give a very positive image to the product. And before the customer tastes it, he will already be half conquered. I don’t have any specific glass manufacturers, however, I really appreciate the
finesse of Gabriel Glass Gold glasses, the composition of the glass and its
flexibility, it’s impressive.
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
Food and wine pairing is an art. And like any art, you sometimes have to take risks and go off the beaten
tracks. For me, the most beautiful food and wine pairings I have ever experienced are
the most eccentric.
A pumpkin cheese cake with an orange wine, a 1999 Château Yquem with a saffron lobster bisque, pan-fried foie gras with a
Saint Emilion, red meat with a 2009 Pol Roger Rosé champagne…
My advice is to try and stay open. It may not work, but when it works it’s very big and you can create
emotions that the dish or the wine alone wouldn’t be able to produce, it’s magic!
Should a Sommelier(e) taste the guest’s wine?
To answer this question, you have to put yourself in the guest’s shoes.
Wine tasting is used to detect any defects beforehand. It also allows the sommelier to see if the wine needs to be aired or decanted. But this practice is now a traditional one and is rarely applied automatically. For me, the tasting of the
guest’s wine should only take place in certain situations and should be valorized.
It is important to make the client taste the wine. In the end, it is him who will decide how his wine should be served.
For example, during one of the tasks for the final of the last best sommelier in the world competition, a special request was made to the candidate: add ice cubes in a glass of Klein Constantia (a famous sweet wine from South Africa) for a guest.
Each person has a different palate and a different wine culture. The only objective that really counts is the customer’s pleasure. So in the end, it’s his feeling that counts the most.
Then it is up to the sommelier to know his wine, and his customer, to suggest an oxygenation or decantation. And sometimes it is the customer himself who spontaneously invites the sommelier to taste the wine in to get his expert opinion.
It is a relationship of trust that is being created and that deserves to be valued.
What are the key ingredients for creating a wine list for a restaurant and what is your opinion on pricing wine in restaurants, do you have tips on how to determine mark ups?
There are several parameters to take into account when making a wine list.
It is important to take into account the available space and the quality of the storage place, because wine is money that will sometimes sleep for decades. You have to buy what you can sell.
To do this, you must know your customers and be in adequacy with the chef’s cuisine and the spirit of the establishment.
Before validating the purchase of a new wine, it is important to taste it several times with different people to get a large number of opinions.
In terms of pricing policy, you must be smart and not apply automatic multiplication on each bottle. The customer who goes to the restaurant to drink a great wine has probably already bought it for his own cellar, he knows the prices.
Fair prices on fine wines will serve as a “flagship product” that will bring customers to your home.
But wine is a key product from a financial point of view for establishments. This is often what keeps the restaurant alive. We must not neglect margins. Wines by the glass allow wider margins to be applied. And now, with the Coravin, it is possible to have a wide choice of wines by the glass while limiting losses. This approach is also in line with current consumption: less
quantity but better wines.
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
I would prefer to talk about sommeliers, because other drinks appear on the menus of great restaurants that until now had only sworn by wine: ciders, sake, beer…
To follow these trends, you need to read the gourmet press, follow social networks and look from time to time at what’s going on in your neighbor’s house. Large establishments have exceptional sommeliers, in my opinion they are the ones who
set the trends.
How would a new vineyard get their wine noticed and what is the best way for producers to improve their chances of being listed?
The winegrower must be a real Swiss-knife. It must be good at each step to make its wine. And once bottled, the sales work begins. And this is often a difficulty for them. We can make the best wine in the world, if no one knows it, it will never be sold…
The world of sommeliers may seem difficult for a winegrower to enter.
Masterclasses are a way to discover your vineyard and grape varieties and above all to have a privileged relationship with the sommeliers. Welcoming restaurant teams on your estate is also a way to create a special relationship.
For my part, I am extremely sensitive to the relationship with the winegrower. I appreciate the authentic and passionate people who communicate their enthusiasm.
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
I would certainly be a natural wine because they are alive, sometimes difficult to tame but so rich in emotion when they want to open up.
For the grape variety, I would say that I have the character of a pinot noir. A delicate grape, sensitive and difficult to work with. He can be discreet but when he is comfortable, he gives a lot of energy, emotion and power. It is a very great grape variety that expresses its terroir magnificently without exceeding it.
Which top 3 types of wine (your faves would we find in your home wine collection and what’s your desert island wine?
I am a fan of Syrah.In Switzerland, I discovered the most beautiful expressions of this grape variety. My first choice is without hesitation a 100% Syrah from the Valais of the Cave des Amandiers, by Mr. Alexandre Déletraz. I visited
the domain and tasted his syrah which has already given me a very nice impression. Some time later, I had dinner in a great restaurant, the sommelier served us a blind syrah, I was sure to have this syrah tasted earlier at the Cave des Amandiers… It was a very great Côte Rôtie. A few weeks later, in another restaurant, another tasting of blind Syrah: This time I’m not taking any risks and I’m announcing a Côte Rôtie… The sommelier had chosen the Syrah
from the Cave des Amandiers… A very great wine.
The second one I will choose a 100% Cabernet Jura from the Saint Germain cellar in Moutier in the Swiss Jura. A unique wine and unique winemaker. It reflects a very positive emotion and energy, when you drink it you can only have a smile on
The story of the man also touches me very much. Aurèle Morf is an extremely
talented winegrower, who makes natural wines with great precision.
I put a few bottles in my cellar for ageing, I think his wines have a very long
Even if I have wines from all over the world, I will also stay in Switzerland for the third wine.
I will choose Domaine Chanton, in the Haut-Valais region. The estate works with a few rare grape varieties. I have a crush on his 100% Gouais. A white grape variety, which represents less than 1 ha of vineyards in the world. It is nevertheless an essential grape variety in world viticulture since it is the father of about eighty very famous grape varieties: Chardonnay, Gamay, Riesling…
It is a wine with a very beautiful natural acidity, which gives it an incredible ageing potential. I had the chance to taste with Josef-Marie Chanton, the winemaker, some very old vintages of this wine… Sip of emotion !
As for wine for a desert island, I hope I’ll never have to make that choice one day!
But I will probably choose a wine from an island: a 100% Zibbibo from
century-old vines, aged in Dolias (buried amphoras). A 100% natural and orange
wine… A UFO from the island of Pantelleria, made by an artist: Gabrio Bini. And maybe he’ll be even more expressive on his own land!
Any interesting suggestions about magazines or online platforms?
I have created a media specifically for sommeliers: “Le Journal du Sommelier”. For the moment it is available solely in French but I am working on publishing an English version very soon.
I wanted to have an actual “object” in the hand, so I have created a paper magazine. Each issue is focused on a
single theme and provides very complete and scrutinized information about the thematic. It deals with the many topics
and products that a sommelier should know. It is really an in-depth work to obtain accurate and quality information. I hope that the sommeliers will use this magazine as a learning tool and to remain up-to-date. I am also developing
an online platform that aims to communicate on current events in the world of sommeliers.
In my opinion this type of highly-specialized magazine for professional sommeliers is really missing.
You can find many things and many information on the internet, but except some official websites (wine regions, winemakers…), it is really difficult to find reliable and up-to-date information. On the top of that, Sommeliers are already rather busy dealing with their direct spheres and network.
Nevertheless, I am sensitive to the approach of the magazine “Le rouge et le blanc”. It highlights winegrowers working in a spirit of respect for nature… but I believe they are only in French.
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers – www.sommelier-jobs.com
Dominik Kozlik e.U.
4020 Linz, Austria