Name: Joacim Sjövall -
Nationality: Swedish -
At the moment: Sweden
Sommeliere / Wine Consultant
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Any particular mentors at that time?
My first encounter with wine was actually a quite funny one, I tried to store and preserve a bottle of J.P Chenet red. You know the one with a bent neck. It was back in 2000 I think and this was the first time I got the chance of trying an aged wine and see what aging does to the wine. Not the best wine to store but it was a good practice. At that time I read a lot of literature from Stephen Spurrier, Hugh Johnson, and Jancis Robinson of course.
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?
Defining a Sommelier these days is to be harder and harder. It seems to me that the craftmanship of a Sommelier almost is dying out, at least in Sweden. Often the skills are combined with say a server, head waiter, or F & B Manager position. Not that it's wrong in any way it just not easy, or almost impossible to be a full-time Sommelier in Sweden these days (despite COVID-19). The names of Sören Polonius (head trainer of the Swedish sommelier national team) and Arvid Rosengren (World champion Sommelier in 2016) come to mind.
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 give the recommendation to travel the world (when it's possible) but never to forget where you came from. I would recommend, work at least 1 year at the monopoly to get a glance at what they are doing. To work at least 1year for an importer to see how the wines are bought and sold, margins and marketing campaigns, etc. In this way not only do you know a lot about wine, spirits, and other beverages, their origin, and production procedure. You also have a bigger picture and understanding of how it all is connected.
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what's in your opinion would be the best approach?
Try getting them to try new things. New wines for them, from new regions and made in different ways. In that way you´re not just selling wines, you´re also educating at the same time.
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´m open to trying new glasses and brands all the time. The science behind glasses is an everchanging world and as well as the wine industry is not set in stone. The world of glasses is an ever-changing scene.
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
Look at the sides of the dish, often the taste and textures lie there and not in the main protein source.
Should a Sommelier(e) taste the guest's wine?
In my opinion, not every single time. We have at all restaurants, bars, hotels, etc cheaper wines, and more expensive wines. Some are made for consumption on a more daily basis and some are for more special occasions. Therefore some wines are just served and some are tasted before serving.
Where would you suggest a young Sommelier start searching for Sommelier positions on the internet in your country?
In Sweden, the Sommelier positions will be in 99% of the cases combined with another position. Therefore if you searching for a full-time Sommelier position you must go abroad to other countries which has more fine dining and guide Michelin reputation.
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 ingredient is to figure out, “what is the purpose of this wine list”? Is it to sell as much wine as possible? Is it to have the biggest wine list in town? Is it to have the rarest wines in the world? Which theme or niche should the wine list have?
After doing that analysis you can proceed to build your wine list. However, earning more than 100€ on a bottle is for me rude. You have wines so people can buy them, not to store and never sell, it’s as easy as that.
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
I don’t stay on top of the entire wine industry, but I do my best. I subscribe to the best newsletters I can get a hold of. I read books, blogs, and listen to podcasts. I learn from others who are specialists or knowledgeable within their subject.
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?
Do it with passion and love. Almost everyone can do a commercial video, hire an influencer or do a marketing campaign worldwide. But just a few have the connection, winemaker-vineyard-wine-importer-restaurant-guest. Always the right importer for the right wine.
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
I would be a Riesling. The ever-changing grape from young and vibrant, high in acidity and freshness to older and seductive tones like petroleum and sweet as honey.
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?
The top 3 types of wines are:
USA Cabernet Sauvignon
Desert island wine:
1988 Cuvée William Deutz
Any interesting suggestions about magazines or online platforms?
You should check out wine-searcher.com and also rarewineinvest.com both of them within the wine trade business but on different approaches.
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers - www.sommelier-jobs.com
Dominik Kozlik e.U.
4020 Linz, Austria