Food & Wine Pairing
The essence of a Sommelier's job is to buy wine and pair it with food. The sommelier must therefore have vast knowledge and skills not only in wine but also in food. However, in most cases, the sommelier buys and pairs wines without really knowing the food with which the wine will be paired.
First, a sommelier does not necessarily taste all the dishes prepared by the chef and/or may not know the menu in advance but still must plan some wines based either on basic info about the menu (e.g., starter, fish, meat, cheese, and dessert) and/or the desired types of wine and the approximate budget per bottle.
One might think that, ideally, all the dishes are or should be tasted by the restaurant staff, to be able to describe and recommend them to the customers, yet, it is not the case in most restaurants.
Secondly, a sommelier does not necessarily taste all the wines he/she buys either. One might think that it is the case, but, in fact, no. More precisely with sought-after, expensive, and/or niche wines, often allocated due to small productions or limited quantities due to high demand.
A sommelier is like a tightrope walker juggling with seasonal wine selections that must be sufficiently versatile, open-minded, layered, sophisticated, and well-rounded, in terms of prices and choices, not only to satisfy the tastes, moods, and desires of the customers but also to match as best as possible, with the dishes on the menu (and the restaurant’s type too).
In fact, a sommelier must be a worldly person, experienced and knowledgeable about the practical and social aspects of life, culture, and traditions, to buy wine not only based on his/her palate, experiences, and tastes, but also on his/her gut’s feeling, producer’s reputation, press, and critic’s tasting notes and scores, and of course, better judgment, especially when he/she cannot taste the wine.
Curious and epicurean by nature, with a desire to always learn and discover and satisfy the customer’s needs, even if the wine and/or food cannot be tasted, a Sommelier must still know a little something about it to describe it and recommend it. Having a broad knowledge of food and wine is fundamental.
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