Frederick Monnery, prestige sales manager for founder producers Hatch Mansfield, reveals his favourite wine and food pairings and explains how the Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year competition is life-changing
What makes a good sommelier?
Someone who understands the chef’s food and philosophy and translates that to the customer with a perfect food and wine matching. A sommelier understands that they are the key link between the food and the customer, that they can elevate the customer’s experience to make it the best it can be, but who also understands that the wrong advice can destroy the hard work that has been done in the kitchen and lose a customer for good.
Besides this, a good sommelier should always be curious to try wines from different countries, regions and producers. They must be open-minded.
In addition, if the sommelier is managing a team, it is very important to look after them, prioritising education and training and keeping them motivated.
What are your favourite food and wine pairings?
First is asparagus and pea risotto with a good Sancerre, ideally from a soil with flint. The natural minerality and acidity from the great terroir of Sancerre is a perfect match for the minerality of the asparagus and greenness of the pea, all lined together with creaminess from the risotto.
My second choice would be guinea fowl with chanterelle mushrooms and potato gratin, with either a wine from Gevrey-Chambertin or a cru from either Barolo and Barbaresco. In a perfect world, a Chambertin-Clos de Bèze and a Barbaresco or a Barolo from Cerequio Cru.
What’s your best wine find of 2019?
Fósil San Pablo Chardonnay 2018 from Familia Zuccardi in Valle de Uco, Mendoza. One of the best Chardonnays in the New World, produced only since 2017.
A good sommelier understands that they are the key link between the food and the customer, that they can elevate the customer’s experience to make it the best it can be"
Which wine can’t you do without on your list?
A wine from Burgundy.
What’s your guiltiest wine pleasure?
A glass of red Hermitage.
How do you develop your knowledge and skills?
By constantly reading, learning, going to tastings, taking trips and meeting lots of other knowledgeable people – there is always something new to learn from someone.
Studying with the WSET or the Court of Master Sommeliers is a great way to develop skills and knowledge. Taking part in the Taittinger UK Sommelier of the Year competition is such a brilliant way to discover new things, test your skills and meet fantastic people.
Who is your biggest inspiration and what did you learn from them?
Ronan Sayburn – he really changed the world of sommeliers in the UK, taking it to an even greater level of professionalism.
Which sommeliers do you admire?
Stefan Neumann – he is an absolute gentleman and so knowledgeable, plus a fantastic team leader.
Who would be on your ideal sommelier team?
A mixture of sommeliers from different backgrounds with varying levels of knowledge.
How has the role of the sommelier changed in the past five years?
Finding good sommeliers has become increasingly difficult, particularly with the political events of the last three years.
What advice would you give a front of house team member considering training to be a sommelier?
To be humble, respectful, dedicated and patient.
What new skills have you developed this year?
I’ve learned to be patient.
What’s your goal for 2020?
Getting my Advanced certificate with the Court of Master Sommeliers.
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