Name: Mr. Zoran Matic –
Nationality: France –
At the moment: Luxembourg
Sommelier/Délégué Commercial en vins at Rupert S.A
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry. Did you have any particular mentors?
I discovered the world of wine when I was a teenager when I went on holiday to Serbia. My grandfather, who at the time owned a few plots of vines in Banat (Voivodina), introduced me to the world of viticulture and winemaking, and it was he who contributed to my interest in the world of wine. Then my second most important meeting was to cross the road of Mr. Guyon Gérard who definitely introduced me to the world of the Sommellerie.
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?
For me, the sommelier must have an excellent knowledge of enology: vineyards, appellations, food and wine pairings, etc. He must have an excellent sense of smell and a very fine palate to be able to feel the taste and aromas of the different wines as well as possible. In direct contact with customers, the sommelier must be courteous and attentive. He may sometimes wear a salesman’s hat when he is responsible for negotiating prices with the winegrowers. Negotiation skills will then be an additional asset to carry out this mission successfully. A good command of English is often required in order to be able to communicate with an international clientele, especially if the sommelier works in a tourist area. In addition to this, good physical condition, dynamism, and team spirit will be very useful for juggling the different customers, the cellar, and the service in the restaurant.
A sommelier that I particularly admire, who through his career has inspired me a lot, is Mr. Gerard Basset who always had an extraordinary determination, unfortunately, deceased in 2019. The world of wine has lost a great personality of the International Sommellerie.
What would be your advice to a young Sommelier(e). How to find a good position at home or abroad? Any further tips?
In my experience, a young person who wishes to become a Sommelier must know that wine is a machine that travels around the world and a machine that goes back in time, but also makes time travel within us. I strongly recommend taking part in competitions, it is a driving force. It makes professional life easier and it can also open doors. Personally, this was the case for me
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what, in your opinion, would be the best approach?
To recommend a wine to a customer, you must know the wines you are offering from the very beginning. It is much easier to talk about them. Indeed, your advice will always be more relevant if you know your customer, his tastes, his expectations, and also the budget that the customer wishes to allocate. The answers provided will allow you to direct you more precisely toward a grape variety, a type of wine, or a terroir. The objective is to advise the customer on a wine that will satisfy their desires.
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?
Choosing the right wine to accompany a meal is an art. In addition to the wine, the glass is also important for the taste and smell experience. The range of wine glasses is very wide and varied: shape, volume, height, diameter, rim thickness, and material. For wine lovers, the glass makes all the difference. It must be adapted to the wine in order to bring out its different flavor nuances. In addition to its shape, other elements of the glass also play an important role in the enjoyment of the wine experience. I personally appreciate the glasses and decanters of the Riedel brand but also of the chef sommelier. I choose glasses according to their qualities but especially according to the use, if it is within the framework of more frequent use I will opt for glasses of quality a little less expensive but which are quite as pleased with the use according to the diversity of the proposed wines like for example the mark Schott Zwiessel
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
Choosing the ideal wine to accompany a meal can be a difficult task as there are a wide variety of wines, each with its own aromas and characteristics. For me, the ideal choice will be one where the wine and the meal enhance each other. One of the key principles of the best pairing is to understand both the food you are serving and the wine, by analyzing their components. If tastes are extremely important in these associations, textures are just as important. Indeed, the complementarity between your food and your wine must be done at all levels and according to your tastes. The bitterness, fat, sugar, salt, or acid in your dish plays an essential role in the choice of your wine. For example, a dish with a rich sauce can be accompanied by a dry white wine with a hint of acidity to reduce the greasiness in the mouth. However, if you prefer your wine to coat the richness of your dish, you should opt for a sweeter, rounder wine. The objective of these combinations is to match the character of the wine with the character of your dish.
Should a Sommelier(e) taste the guest’s wine?
As a wine professional, I consider that wine must be tasted before it is served to the customer, this is part of the protocol. When a sommelier presents a bottle of wine to a table, he or she pours a few drops to make sure that the wine is in good condition, and that it is free of any defects.
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 mark ups?
In my opinion, the wine list must be coherent and in harmony with the establishment where one works. The consumption of local products is increasingly popular and this does not exclude wine. It is therefore important to offer wines from the region. All the more so when your establishment is located in the heart of a wine-growing region and your customers come to discover the gastronomic specialties. You must propose well-known appellations but also more original wines, which are off the beaten track and especially from your region. It is important to arouse the customer’s curiosity. World wines are also constantly proving their worth. Regarding the financial strategy policy, you must choose your references according to the level of the establishment. Whether you are a bistro, a brasserie, a 4* hotel, a gourmet restaurant, or a Palace, your offer will probably not be the same. there is something for everyone. Don’t hesitate to have more high-end wines, it would be a shame to miss out on a great sale! Customers seduced by a good reference may be ready to pay as much for their dish as for their glass of wine.
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
I am lucky enough to be a member of two sommelier associations (Union de la Sommellerie Française) and ALS (Association des Sommeliers du Luxembourg) which allows me to be in contact with many colleagues in order to exchange, taste and share. Also, I like to participate in competitions, simply I try to find challenges that allow me to go higher and further in order to refine my knowledge. I am very active on social networks, I read books and magazines about wine and all this allows me to stay connected in the best way possible.
How would a new vineyard get its wine noticed and what is the best way for producers to improve their chances of being listed?
For me, the wine must be as natural as possible, and therefore express its terroir as well as possible. I think that this is the most important quality criterion. To do this, it is necessary to work constantly and attentively, to try to bring out the best of each terroir, but also to adapt and to be attentive to the needs of our customers. I think that every winegrower must be noticed through trade fairs, tastings, training courses, and also use social networks. Today, to be a winemaker, you have to be multi-tasking to get noticed.
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
I would be a Burgundy wine because I was born in Dijon and I love burgundy wines more than anything else, even if I like to taste all the wines, this one is my favorite.
Which top 3 types of wine (your faves would we find in your home wine collection and what’s your desert island wine?
My three favorite wines at the moment
1/ Domaine Henri Ruppert Crémant Gëlle Fra AOP Luxembourg
2/ Domaine Viticole Alice Hartmann 2020 Riesling AOP Luxembourg Grevenmacher Fels
3/ Domaine de la Galopiére 2019 Savigny les Beaunes
If you don’t mind one of my favorite dessert wines at the moment is an over-ripe Muller Thurgau wine « Areo »from the Schumacher Knepper winery (Luxembourg)
Dominik Kozlik e.U.
4020 Linz, Austria