Name: Difan Xu –
Nationality: Austrian –
At the moment: Germany –
Head Sommeliere – ZweiSinn Meiers | Bistro | Fine Dining
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Any particular mentors at that time?
That would be around the time during hospitality school in Austria. We did internships in restaurants during the summer holidays. The restaurant I picked had a very nice Sommelier who was very fun to work with. I remember asking him a bunch of weird questions because I knew nothing about wine at that time. He never got too tired to answer them.
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?
I think a Sommelier shouldn´t take oneself too important. It takes a big part of focus and empathy on the guest to read their wishes right.
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?
If there is no specific restaurant in mind: definitely your website – www.sommelier-jobs.com
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what’s in your opinion would be the best approach?
I tend to ask if the wine is supposed to go well with their meal or if they are looking for something they just like to drink, disregarding what they will eat. Most of the time, this would give me a hint of what they are looking for: if they are open to new tastes or if they have a specific wine in their mind. Finally, by not asking yes or no questions, you can get your customer to talk to you – the more information, the more precise you can get with your recommendation.
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 worked with Zalto Glasses in several restaurants, this will probably always be my choice of glass. Surely it´s expensive and easy to break – but I think it´s a different mindset if you are polishing machine glasses or mouth-blown ones. Today it´s nearly a kind of meditation for me, as there is not much in everyday life that needs that much concentration.
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
Natural wines with a hint of volatility work great with vinegary dishes, onion with cider, and milk with Muscadets with long lees aging. If it´s supposed to be a classic wine pairing: try to not repeat a region or a grape (unless there is a story behind it)
Should a Sommelier(e) taste the guest’s wine?
That´s a definite yes from me. First of all, because cork is really a not very nice taste and second it´s important for the Sommelier, to taste the wine, again and again, to get to know how the wine changes over time – there is not really another way we could do that (at least if we’re not supposed to get broke or an alcoholic…)
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?
Diversity in all aspects (Varietals, budget, regions,…) to create a wine list.
I think it depends on the restaurant and the clientele they have, to figure out their philosophy of pricing.
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
Keep studying, check on wine & beverage websites and magazines, get in touch with other people in the wine industry
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, it´s always good if you have the chance to get to know the producer. Even if the wine is fantastic, you`ll have much more fun explaining the wine to your customer, when there is a bond between you and the winery.
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
Blaufränkisch maybe? Never the first to pop up in your mind, but great for those who understand.
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?
German dry Riesling, Burgundy (whites and reds), and some funky natural wines.
A bottle of fresh and crisp Grüner Veltliner to dwell in memories of home while enjoying the sun and the ocean.
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers – www.sommelier-jobs.com