Name: Francesco Marzola –
Nationality: Italian –
At the moment: Norway –
Wine Director at Park Hotel Vossevangen –
Wine Consultant / Wine Educator at click
Sommelier of the year in Norway 2020
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Any particular mentors at that time?
I started working in the restaurant business at the age of 16 since my family owned a small restaurant at the time. But the person that inspired me most to pursue a career in the wine industry was my former head sommelier Joseph Di Blasi
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?
A modern Sommelier should have a broad knowledge, not only concerning wine but history, geography, sociology, geology, and savoir-faire… It should be possible for a Sommelier to embark on a conversation with our guests regarding most topics, from wine to cuisine, from sport to history and travel. Be curious, be humble, and never stop learning.
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 advise trying different set up: if you work only in fine dining it could be difficult to adapt to other realities, so especially when you are young and have the freedom to travel, try a different way to work, work as much as possible with different people and different type of wine programs, try to build a broader base for you to use in climbing your career.
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what’s in your opinion would be the best approach?
Try to read your guest, always give them the feeling that you are genuinely interested in hearing what they want that evening and not only the feeling that you are trying to sell as expensive as possible and remember that your integrity is at stake as well, so always try to do your best for your guest! And remember that is not always the most expensive bottle the best sale 😉
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 work with the Riedel Performance series in my establishment, and the reason is basically that I love the wide spectrum of the style of wine those glasses can be used to perform at best. I think it’s important to have the correct tool, which is a form of respect to the guest, to the winemaker, to the establishment, and to all the people involved in the process of making this wine.
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
You can follow the classic way of pairing the traditional wine from the area that dish comes from, or by pairing acidity with acidity, tannins with fat, and so on, or I like as well to use an approach where wine bring what’s missing to the dish, booth texture, and flavor, so if for example the dish lack acidity I like to pair it with a high acidic wine, or if the dish lack a citrus element in its flavor profile, so I like to find a wine that adds that element to it… Don’t be afraid to do bold pairings, if the food and wine are in harmony, I do not see if the pairing is considered classical or not! I remember that one of my boldest pairings was a Lambrusco with oysters…
Should a Sommelier(e) taste the guest’s wine?
Of course, it should! I always explain to my guest that when we taste a wine, we do the same process a chef does in the kitchen, quality control the product before it arrives at the table of our guest and that I am not tasting to decide whether I like the wine or not, but to control that is faultless… of course, like with food dishes, the guest might not like that wine, that’s why it is important that the guest taste as well, after that, we confirm the wine pristine!
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?
Balance is the keyword for creating a wine list. It is important as well to have a goal, and to build the wine program behind an idea… do not buy wine just because you believe is what your guest might like, buy wine considering the quality of the product, everybody likes quality! But at the same time, be balanced by not only buying what you would buy for yourself, not everyone might be as keen as you on that orange furmint from Hungary… taste a lot and create your own database before you set up your program, please do not buy via Instagram! Remember that when you mark up wine, behind that price you do represent the establishment, yourself, the producer, and the wine industry in general, so, even if we are all in business, remember to show respect to all the people involved by not speculate on it!
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
Stay informed, read a lot, be open-minded to try wine from everywhere, and always available to give your feedback
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?
Find a good partner for your distribution, do not take the easy shortcut to sell to big distribution, that is for me a no-no situation. Travel around, wine fairs, organize events and be gutsy, I mean, if you want that somebody tastes your wine just go for it and contact that person! BUT on the basis of all this, do produce wine with character, quality-oriented, and honesty.
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
Well, I guess that, workwise, I would be a Chardonnay, due to the capacity of adaptability, and the possibility to work with different styles… I considered myself in possession of that skill so that I can work in different establishments with a different focus and different selections.
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?
I am a simple guy when it comes to my home selection, so Champagne, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay from Burgundy, USA, South Africa or another interesting cool-climate region!
Desert island wine would be Erwin Sabathi Chardonnay Pössnitzberg
Any interesting suggestions about magazines or online platforms?
Not beside the classical ones, Decanter, Noble Rot, The Drinks Business, and so on
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers – www.sommelier-jobs.com