Name: Mircivan Bakay –
Nationality: Turkish –
At the moment: Hong Kong –
Wine Manager at Crowne Plaza Hotel Causeway Bay Giacomo
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Any particular mentors at that time?
Thanks for a great opportunity. I have started as a bartender in the industry. During my career, I had a chance to visit many wineries for training but I must say that I have been interested more in the wine industry by attending Chaîne des Rôtisseurs events in the place I used to work. Then I started to love the wine world.
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 Sommelier must live with the wines and culture of the wine industry. A sommelier should be open to new things and always update himself. Great palate and passion are required for success. I have many people that I admire but especially Steven Spurrier and Fred Dame are my favorites. There are also many other masters but I think it won’t be enough to give their names. I respect all.
What would be your advice to a young Sommelier(e) i.e. Commis Sommelier(e) where to look to find an adequate position at home or abroad? Any further tips?
First of all, education is a very important fact. Besides that, a sommelier must love what they do. It is not easy to be a sommelier but it is possible to become a very successful and knowledgeable as well as respected sommelier in the world once you learn and keep continuing to learning. I would like to recommend to you sommeliers that they should try to spend time in the wineries if they got an opportunity. Another important thing besides education is trying many different wines from different countries if they have the possibility. It is not easy to reach a level a sommelier will want but it is not impossible. Therefore all I will say is that young sommeliers must love what they do and they will reach their dreams.
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what’s in your opinion would be the best approach?
We have to remember that wine is like color or personal taste. We only can find out by talking to a guest or giving them some taste of the different varieties. It also depends on that location. If we do food and wine pairing as a sommelier, I will pick the best wine for the menu served. But I will always try to find what my guest’s palates are. So basically communication as well as understanding menu together with sauces and side dishes.
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 will have a very short and sweet answer to the question, my favorite is Riedel. I respect a company that makes glasses for each specific wine as well as drink. But please note that it doesn’t mean that there is no other brand of glassware for wine. However, my favorites are Riedel selection.
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
I think that sauces make difference. You might have a steak with lots of different sauces. For example pepper sauce then you need spicy wine grape. Or you might have the same steak with Béarnaise sauce so I will recommend completely different wine. So in the new world as well as the wine industry, we can say that sauce of the foods is the one that make difference.
Should a Sommelier(e) taste the guest’s wine?
A Sommelier must try all the wines before serving guests. Especially it can help so much for guest benefit.
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?
First of all, the menu is the main thing. However, we have to remember that our guest’s preferences. Also very important that culture. As you can understand that we are the sommeliers and ready to inject a culture of food as wine to our guests.
When it comes to markups, I always say, nowadays it is easier to reach any wines you want. Restaurants should have a great mark-up policy in order to make the guest or wine lovers buy or order more wine while enjoying their meals. But unfortunately, I have to be honest guests shouldn’t bring their wines if it does exist in the restaurants, they will go and enjoy their meals.
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
I always keep reading wine books and research on the internet. Of course, I try to order from online some wines due to pandemics. It has been a tough year.
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?
As a sommelier, I must try the wines. So it is very easy nowadays to contact people on social media. They should invest in their marketing. Because non of the successful wines reach the points where they are now with an easy!
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
I will definitely be Napa valley Cabernet Sauvignon. That is just my personality.
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- Caymus special select
3- Chateau D’yquem
“probably nice Batard Montrachet’’
Mircivan, best wishes and keep well!
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