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A day in the life of a Wine Sommelier

A day in the life of a Wine Sommelier

Discover the world of wine with Akash Soni on The Zista Podcast!

Get a taste of his exciting life as he takes us through a day in the life of a wine sommelier.

Whether you’re looking to learn more about wine, build your palate, or understand the nuances of food and wine pairings, Akash’s insights are sure to help you progress in your career choice.

Join us on The Zista Podcast and get ready to raise a toast to your future!

Welcome to the latest episode of The Zista Podcast, where we take you on a journey through the fascinating world of wine with one of Maharashtra’s youngest sommeliers, Akash Soni. As the Head Sommelier at Massive Restaurants Pvt. Ltd., which owns popular restaurants like Papaya and Masala Library, Akash is responsible for selecting and curating the perfect wine lists that complement the dishes on offer.

In this episode, Akash takes us on a sensory journey as he describes a day in his life as a wine sommelier. From tasting new wines to training staff, he shares the nitty-gritty details of his job that make it both challenging and fulfilling.

But that’s not all – Akash also shares some valuable tips and advice for students who are interested in pursuing a career as a sommelier!

Key takeaways

  • Curiosity is the key to becoming a successful wine sommelier.
  • The Five S’s (see, swirl, smell, sip, and savor) are important steps for beginners to approach wine tasting like a pro.
  • The role of a Head Sommelier is diverse and multifaceted, requiring a combination of technical knowledge, interpersonal skills, and managerial expertise.
  • Pairing wine with Indian food involves finding a harmonious balance between the flavors and spices in the dish and the wine.
  • Utilizing personal resources and researching specific wine labels and producers can help students stay informed about the wine industry.

Q: What inspired Akash to become a wine Sommelier?

Akash’s inspiration to become a wine Sommelier stemmed from his curiosity about the stories behind each wine label. His journey began when he started working at KOKO, a restaurant with a great wine program featuring 60 to 70 labels. He wanted to learn about the origin of each wine, the climatic conditions in which it was made, and the story of the producer. His curiosity grew, and his manager eventually recommended that he take a wine course, leading to him pursuing a career as a wine Sommelier.

Q: What has contributed to your success in becoming a Head Sommelier?

According to Akash, the key to his success has been consistency and manifestation. He remained focused on his goal of becoming a Sommelier even while completing his course, and he never lost hope despite experiencing some ups and downs in his career. He kept telling himself that he would one day become a wine Sommelier, and this mindset propelled him towards success. By maintaining consistency and harnessing the power of manifestation, Akash was able to build a successful career as a head sommelier.

Q: What is the best approach for beginners to taste wine like a pro?

According to Akash, there is no right or wrong way to approach wine tasting, but there are certain steps that can help beginners taste wine like a pro. These steps are commonly known as the Five S’s: see, swirl, smell, sip, and savor. The first step is to check the appearance of the wine and look for any faults, haziness, or sediments. The appearance can also provide information about the age of the wine. Smelling is an important step in wine tasting, as it can reveal a lot about the wine’s aroma and flavor profile. After tasting the wine, it is recommended to swirl it in your mouth, take a breather, and either gargle or spit it out. It is also important to pay attention to the label of the wine, as it can provide information about its origin and flavor profile. For example, European labels often mention the region and the covenant, while some labels feature an image of a wine bush with different colors representing different flavors of the wine. By following these steps and paying attention to the details, beginners can approach wine tasting like a pro.

Q: What are the different roles that a head sommelier plays?

According to Akash, a Head Sommelier’s day is filled with a variety of tasks and responsibilities. It starts with a cup of coffee, followed by the lunch service where they are on the floor attending to customers. After the lunch service ends, the head sommelier checks the stock inventory, ensuring that the wines are properly stored and ready for use. The rest of the day involves preparation for the dinner service, which goes on until 10:30 pm. In addition to these tasks, there are many other responsibilities that a head sommelier must handle behind the scenes, such as managing staff, ordering supplies, maintaining records, and keeping up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in the wine industry. Overall, the role of a head sommelier is diverse and multifaceted, requiring a combination of technical knowledge, interpersonal skills, and managerial expertise.

Q: What approach do you follow while pairing wine with Indian food?

Akash states that when it comes to Indian food, it is heavily spiced and usually, the wines that go with Indian food depend on their ingredients. For example, looking at red wines, Akash would go for a very medium body, something with less alcohol content, something like Merlot or a burgundy Pinot Noir which isn’t that heavy on the alcohol. All these are the basic ones to keep in mind while pairing them. If Akash selects white wine, he would go for something which is a little dry, has a bit of sugar so it cuts the spices in the food, and it all comes down to the harmony of the pairings. There’s also contrast pairing, but it’s something to be avoided with Indian food, and if Akash ever feels confused, he goes between sparkling or Rose.

Overall, the approach to pairing wine with Indian food involves considering the flavors and spices in the dish and finding a wine that complements them well. The wine should neither overpower nor be overpowered by the food, and the key is to find a harmonious balance between the two.

Q: What advice or traits do you believe young aspiring wine sommeliers should have?

Akash states that firstly memory plays a very important role, you have to keep a lot of things in mind and all you have to keep doing is taste and know and identify what wine it is. And becoming a Sommelier is not a finality, it’s a learning process everyday and throughout your career, as they say the rabbit hole is deep and you never reach the end, so Akash suggests to stay consistent and if you are dedicated you can stick to it and reach where you want to. He also advises aspiring sommeliers to have patience and resilience because it is a long process and it takes time to reach a certain level of knowledge and expertise

Q: What resources would you recommend for young students to stay informed about the wine industry?

Akash suggests that there are plenty of books available on wine, but he personally began by utilizing his own resources while completing his Certified Sommelier Examination. He also recommends researching specific wine labels and their stories, as well as learning about producers and staying up to date with current events in the industry. Akash believes that it’s essential to expand your knowledge through various resources beyond just reading books.

Q: In terms of future career prospects, do you think India, at this stage, has a good number of jobs for a wine sommelier to choose from?

Akash believes that India needs more sommeliers, but many people back out from pursuing this career because they do not want to put in the effort required to become a Sommelier. However, the Indian market for wine is expanding, with many new importers coming in, and the industry is growing in terms of job opportunities. Sommeliers are no longer confined to working in just five-star hotels, but also have value in retail outlets, and companies are now looking for freelancers. Therefore, there are more and more different ways to explore a career in this field, and the opportunities are expanding.

Podcast Host: Amit Ahuja, Associate Director, Communications & Digital, Zista Education
Podcast Guest: Akash Soni, Head Sommelier, Massive Restaurants Pvt. Ltd.
Video & Audio Editing: Raj Soni, Communications Associate, Zista Education
Podcast Manager: Russel Aldridge, Sr. Manager, Creative & Digital, Zista Education
Podcast Transcript: Tanya Kakka, Freelance Copywriter