Name: Georgios Iordanidis –
Nationality: Greek –
At the moment: UK / London
Head of Wine
The Birley Clubs (click)
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry. Did you have any particular mentors?
I have felt a very strong connection to wine from a very early age, as my roots are in Georgia where my uncle was making wine, and I remember him letting me taste the wine straight from the barrel. Once I moved to work in London in 2012, it was very clear to me I wanted to work in the wine industry. As my biggest mentor, I see Andrea Briccarello who was my mentor in the earlier stage of my career, and of course at the moment Clement Robert MS and Erik Simonics with whom I work on a daily basis in Annabels.
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?
I would say the person needs to have a combination of theoretical knowledge, an understanding of the market, and more than anything very strong people skills. Svetoslav Manolev MS is a great example, goes without saying that knowledge of every aspect of wine is there and at the same time his ability to translate this, for example, to train other Sommeliers in an inspirational way is admirable.
What would be your advice to a young Sommelier(e)? How to find a good position at home or abroad? Any further tips?
Build contacts as much as you can with people working in the industry, but also do not hesitate to contact the places directly where you picture yourself building a career. My biggest tip is to trust in yourself, personality is everything, and skills and knowledge can be thought.
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what, in your opinion, would be the best approach?
Obviously, you need to take every situation individually as it comes, with a few simple questions narrowing down the style and price bracket the guest is looking for, keeping the pairing for the food in mind. Always give your advice in a ”language” so the guest can understand you and avoid going too technical.
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What is your philosophy about glasses? Are you working with well-known brands or are you considering new brands as well? How do you decide?
The glasses have a huge impact on the overall experience of tasting or drinking wine. The glass can either ruin the whole experience or bring it to the next level. It is very important the glass is clean and polished as well. We are working with Riedel and Lalique. and at the moment considering a new brand as well. The glassware will be decided based on the wines, and not the other way around.
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
Do not overthink it. Pairing wine is based on a few simple facts, but at the same time do not be afraid to take the guest experience to the next level by suggesting something that is breaking the norm. The old law of ”only white wine with fish” does not exist anymore, just take into consideration that the pairing needs to be balanced and harmonious, instead of one overpowering the other.
Should a Sommelier(e) taste the guest’s wine?
Definitely. The Sommelier is in charge of the condition of the bottle served to the guest.
What are the key ingredients for creating a wine list for a restaurant and what is your opinion on pricing wine in restaurants, do you have tips on how to determine markups?
It is important to remember, the wine list is created for the guests, with the Head Sommelier’s signature. It should never be a mirror of one person’s preferences. With pricing you need to obviously align your markup to everything else, what is the concept, are we talking fine wines, location etc?
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
As we all know there are a lot of changes happening in a short time, I am personally very lucky to work and travel the world with other wine professionals from different positions and occupations. This really gives me a front seat in the industry and a lot of perspectives.
How would a new vineyard get their wine noticed and what is the best way for producers to improve their chances of being listed?
Obviously, the quality of wine is very important, then getting the wine to tastings and to distribution with well-established wine suppliers.
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
Perhaps a Nebbiolo. Surprisingly intense and pronounced based on the colour, with a lot of complexity and the ability to age. The high alcohol reflects my ability to consume wine haha.
Which top 3 types of wine (your faves would we find in your home wine collection and what’s your desert island wine?
From home collection, you would find bottles brought home from my wine trips presenting smaller producers, definitely red Burgundy!! And some unique treats such as Littorai from Ted Lemon and as something iconic and big for a special occasion Sassicaia.
My desert island wine 100% would be Krug Grande Cuvée, I can already see myself getting the party started on the island, each and every time this Champagne continues to blow my mind.
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