Name: Marie Christin Baunach –
Nationality: German –
At the moment: Germany –
Head Sommeliere Restaurant Überfahrt –
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Any particular mentors at that time?
I was born in the wine region Franconia in Germany, and from an early age always in direct contact with the wine. My grandma had some vineyards and my Cousin Ilonka Scheuring owns a winery as well.
When I started my apprenticeship in the Colombi Hotel in Freiburg, I was again in another important wine region of Germany. The Michelin star restaurant here had a very impressive wine list, and this was where I got to try my first Champagnes and Bordeaux’s.
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 most important skill for a sommelier is empathy! If you can understand your guests, even they are not using the same professional vocabulary as you, will get the most success in your job. The second one is to listen.
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 think, the more you travel, the more cultures you will get to know …and isn’t that what it is all about? … to get more experience and new input? The best thing about being a sommelier is that you never run out of constant changes and news from the industry.
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what’s in your opinion would be the best approach?
I always start with the question what was “the last excellent wine the guest had”. Therefore, he can tell me what impressed him on this wine, and I can find something new for him with the taste he likes.
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?
A glass of wine is like “make-up” for people.
You can highlight the notes you like the most with the right glass.
My all-time favorite is Zwiesel-Schott but I am always open to trying new brands.
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
You need to start with the basics of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami.
If you know the taste of your food, you can par different wines, and the more you try, the more you will get to know your own taste.
Should a Sommelier(e) taste the guest’s wine?
As Sommelier; we are experts and there are so many possibilities of wine mistakes, like a hidden cork, and by tasting the wine before the guests do, then you are sure to serve the best quality to your guests and increase the possibility to get a very special and perfect wine experience.
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?
For me, a wine list always needs to fit the concept of the restaurant. If I go to a Spanish restaurant, I would like to have a nice Cava instead of Champagne, because I want to be integrated into the local food and local drinks.
For me, the best mark-up for a glass of wine is an equal cork fee for every bottle, and maybe an extra mark-up for rarities or long storage.
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
Find someone to exchange with, colleagues, winemakers, friends, guests, and of course a lot of wine and beverage tasting.
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?
I think the easiest way is to get recommended by someone I trust …and if it fits my personal taste and the concept of my wine list.
In the end, the most important aspects are quality, taste, and a personal story. Storytelling is a tool that makes it easier to sell the wines to our guests because you give them a glass of wine with a personal story.
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
For sure I would be a Sylvaner. It’s the most popular grape in Franconia.
Bone-dry, multifaceted, elegant. Classically served in a “Bocksbeutel” bottle and something special that is easy drinking for every day.
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?
1) Any good sparkling
2) Swiss Chasselas
3) European Pinot Noir
…and my island wine would be a 2006 Grand Cru Champagne from Barnaut
Any interesting suggestions about magazines or online platforms?
I use Instagram often, the stories are fantastic to get a good overview.
For example: “vdp.diepraedikatsweingueter” the winemakers deliver good storytelling. …and “wein.am.limit” does very good interviews with the winemakers.
Marie Christin Baunach
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers – www.sommelier-jobs.com