Yesterday, while I was on the Frecciarossa train returning from the event "Io Bevo Così" at the Hotel Gallia in MilanI come across the post of Sommelier Decalogue of a Facebook friend of mine, the Sommelier Giacomo Gironi. I found it so beautiful and full of interesting insights that I asked him to publish it on my wine blog! Giacomo says that for him the Sommelier is the person who manages the cellar of a restaurant and is in charge of wine service and does not include enthusiasts, experts, agents... and also wine bloggers like me! In fact, there is already interesting food for debate here! For you, is a sommelier only the professional who manages the cellar of a restaurant or is anyone who has done a Sommelier course a real Sommelier? Tell me what you think in a comment!

Decalogue of the Sommelier: Rule 1

"Don't close deals behind the backs of the company you work for. That extra couple of pennies you make, if you get caught, will put you on a blacklist as long as the phone book of the entire city where you operate."

Here, it may be that I have never really worked in the room that I have no idea what this point means. I mean, what kind of deal does an unsound sommelier make? I have read this rule at least 3 times and the only thing I can think of is that a Sommelier makes a deal with a winery he knows to sell wines to the restaurant where he works by taking an extra %. Or that the winery raises the price to the restaurant to acknowledge a % to the Sommelier? Am I totally off the mark?


Decalogue of the Sommelier: Rule 2

'There will always be those who have drunk better and more than you, don't fret about that and remember that your goal remains the handling of the cellar! The rest is training which, in the case of wine, is done in the field (tastings, fairs, visits to producers...)'.

Holy words, indeed very holy! For me, the professional sommelier must enliven the cellar and build customer loyalty. Stop! And to do both, just follow this simple rule: do not put yourself in a superior position to your interlocutor. You know neither him nor his experience. On the contrary, if you realise that you have a prepared interlocutor in front of you, even much more than you, enjoy it: you can be enriched by it. Besides, do you know what a great satisfaction it is to have a prepared person discover a bottle they have never tasted before?

Decalogue of the Sommelier: Rule 3

"Participate as far as you can in all the tastings with awareness: taste-taste-water-taste-remember-remember-taste. Unpack the myths and work on building your own language. Time will reward you for it'.

I also agree with this golden rule... but here I am, I admit it... I have a limit: I don't spit wine out. Oh God, I've actually only spat it once, when I was in France for the tastings reserved for us winners of the Millésima Blog Award 2017! In one day I have sometimes tasted over 100-150 labels... and there spitting was really inevitable! In 'normal' tastings, however, I try never to exceed 50 labels a day, so in these cases I always take a tiny sip. For me, spitting makes us lose some of the sensations... however, what I have learnt at tastings is that I can't live without the Moleskine Wine Journal... just now I ordered another one on Amazon at this link!  There are no saints, the iPhone battery is not enough even with the power bank if I take a lot of notes!

Decalogue of the Sommelier: Rule 4

'Watch the markets and trends, they are a great flywheel for selections! Remember, however, that these are not the Word, so think for yourself even if you are in the house of Roche and De Villaine'.

No, don't ask who the fuck Roche and De Villaine are... and don't worry, it took me a few minutes to make the mental connection too! We are talking about the two families that run the Romanée-Conti estate. I've said it all! This rule is also fundamental and I fully agree with it: it is the same one I used in the selection of sparkling wines in my '500 bubbles in 500' Sparkling Wine Guide! In other words, it is important to reward blazon, but in Italy we have such an ampelographic variety and wine culture that I consider it madness not to discover even the most hidden gems of wineries that are often very little known!

Decalogue of the Sommelier: Rule 5

"Don't screw your boobs. Never! It makes no sense! Wine is an expensive game, it's true, but righteousness gives you no one back and if you drink too fast, on other people's shoulders, then just as fast and on your own shoulders, YOU BURN (see the end you make if you don't follow rule 1)!"

I admit that I was a bit taken aback by this rule. No but are there really sommeliers who steal bottles from the restaurants where they work? Really?

Decalogue of the Sommelier: Rule 6

"Take off the snootiness, that you are not saving lives, and at the very least you are the soul's cotton swab, and measure your outbursts when you are at a table (but also in life)! Remember that you don't know who you have in front of you and even if it is someone who chooses the most or least expensive wine from your list having only the price as criteria, you must be happy to please him and tell him a story. You will have his trust forever!

Giacomo Gironi deserves all my respect for this rule alone! Enough my fellow Sommeliers, you have broken my balls with this stink under our noses! As Giacomo wrote, we are not heart surgeons like E.R. or Gray's Anatomy, and we are probably not even as hot as George Clooney and our tits are not as big as those of the beautiful Katherine Heigl! Full stop.

Decalogue of the Sommelier: Rule 7

"Take a good look at the place where you operate and build your cellar from there: it is useless and harmful in a place whose average ticket is €35, or in a 15-cover restaurant, to set yourself up with a 1,000-label list, 500 of which are hand grenades. If you do, you simply haven't understood your job!"

I was actually confronted with this topic a few years ago. A sommelier colleague suggested that I put a thousand bottles of wine on the menu of my ex-boyfriend's restaurant, subdivided by region and country. Too bad it was a 30-cover restaurant, with an average ticket per person of just €35-40. In these cases, the right wine list should be related to the potential turnover of the cellar, and not to the ego of the sommelier who draws it up. This is why I believe there should be more attention paid to this part when studying to become a Sommelier!.

Decalogue of the Sommelier: Rule 8

"Drugs and Alcohol (I know, it's funny) keep them out and well separated from work. The consequence is always the same: it's only a moment you ruin yourself. Serving is the perfect union between art and metronome. What confuses, disperses'.

I will refrain from commenting on this point.

Decalogue of the Sommelier: Rule 9

"Wine moves the bill in a restaurant so be sure of what you handle and suggest. The goal is always to see the guest again'.

Well, just recently I happened to be 'incognito' in a restaurant where they tried to sell me a young champagne costing over €100 at a dinner that had artichoke and oyster risotto as the main course. The ignorance of those who propose such a combination has no limits... but what about the bill? I was eating alone, a quick working lunch before seeing a client. Can it be plausible that a customer in a €15 set menu lunch that includes an appetiser and a first course buys you a bottle of Champagne costing over €100? You must have powdery mildew in your head, caper!

Decalogue of the Sommelier: Rule 10

"Sacrifice I think is a bitch, dedication is not. Organise your time, which as you noted in the previous 9 points can be your best friend or your worst enemy. That is for you alone to decide."

This rule opens up two food for thought. The first is that you must never sacrifice yourself for a project that is not your own unless you are paid a fair wage... unless you work in a place or for a special person who can enrich you and you consider it training. The second thing is that time is precious and learning how to organise it can take you very high... but wasting it will sink you into a vortex with no return. In short, try to find people to invest in... but always invest in yourself first!

sommelier's decalogue"I did four o'clock to write this. Now don't fuck up. Big hug.

Sommelier Giacomo Gironi

Thank you Giacomo for your work!

And are you a professional or amateur sommelier? Are you a restaurateur, a customer or both? Let me know what you think of Giacomo's Sommelier Decalogue in a comment!



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