Name: Vlada Stojanov

Nationality: Serbian        

At the moment: Montenegro

Vlada Stojanov - Serbia.jpg

Currently: Sommelier

Prerequisite:

Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Any particular mentors at that time?

My household always had plenty of higher end spirits and some okish

everyday wine. Even though my family rarely drank, they often

entertained guests. Studying hotel management, I wanted to learn a bit about first and foremost because in order to be considered "educated", a basic

knowledge of wine is a must. Plus, it would have been very handy

considering my career choice.

What specific traits or skills should a Sommelier(e) possess for professional performance and is there any person with that qualities you especially admire within the wine industry?

As for the specific traits, there is one that is an absolute must and

a prerequisite for anything involving wine - passion.

Without passion, you will not remember, learn or even understand wine

in an adequate way.

Anyone can remember that methoxypyrazine compounds give those

grassy/herbal notes we love in Sauvignon Blanc for example.

However in my mind, wine shouldn't suffer too much from a scientific approach.

Distilling a wine to "aromas of red and black fruit, mostly

blueberries, touch of cedar and pencil shavings" is missing maybe two

of the most important thing about wine - a sense of place and magic.

Magic because (almost) all of it comes from a single grape berry. What

can I say, I am a bit of a romantic and dreamer. :)

What would be your advice to a young Sommelier(e) i.e. Commis Sommelier(e) where to look finding an adequate position at home or abroad? Any further tips?

I'm getting a bit long winded here - be passionate, never stop

learning and developing, provide great service and anticipate the

needs of guests.

Sell good bottles whose quality you can stand behind. Always add a

personal touch to everything you do and take ownership.

Active:

When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what's in your opinion would be the best approach?

Identify what the customer likes, identify the occasion, identify the

budget you're working with. Find out if they are adventurous or not.

If they are, offer them something different than what they commonly

drink. Always make sure that the service is theatrical and a surprise,

no matter what the price of the bottle is.

What's your philosophy about glasses? Are you working with well known brands or are you considering new brands as well and how do you determine?

As far as glasses go, if I have the option, I would always go with

Riedel Varietal specific glasses. For most restaurants, getting

Sauvignon/Riesling and Chardonnay glasses is enough for whites and

Bordeaux/Burgundy(you can use them for Barolo too) for reds.

What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?

Learn how to cook, befriend a cook or at least get the book called

"What to drink with what you eat" by Andrew Dornenburg. Use it and

reference it often.

Wine list:

What are the key ingredients for creating a wine list for a restaurant and what is your opinion on some ridiculous pricing on wine in restaurants, do you have tips on how to determine markups?

From my experience, it is best to use a scaling margin and I am a

big proponent of this. Some restaurants have higher operating costs

and I realise that, but charging x3, x4 or even x5 for a bottle of

Tignanello for example is just a rip off.

People who drink Tignanello at home (probably) know how much it costs

and it is in your best interest to have those guests coming back.

I would always rather sell 5 Tignanelli at a 50-100% markup than sell

1 bottle at 5x markup.

This way everybody wins - your guests, you as a restaurant and your suppliers.

How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?

Read, read and read some more. Attend wine tastings and wine fairs

to stay on top of everything. Talk with winemakers, distributors,

colleagues.

How would a new vineyard get the attention of someone like you to

notice their wine and what's the best way for producers to improve

their chances of being listed?

Come and introduce yourself, present your wine, give us a bottle to

taste, be reasonably priced and if there is a combination of a)

quality b) reasonable price c) authenticity and sense of place in your

wine d) a flavor we do not have on the list or we do have, but this is

a different interpretation... Well, you're in.

Never forget that no matter what you're doing, you're working with

people so strive to build a long term relationship with whoever you're

dealing with.

Favourite pick:

If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?

Pinot Noir definitely, maybe Nebbiolo. Notoriously hard to work

with, fickle and capricious, but if everything falls into place, you

get the most magical, ethereal and unforgettable experience possible.

Nebbiolo because I am still young and a little rough around the edges,

but I believe I will smooth out over time and get a nice patina and a

noble bouquet. ;)

What are the top 3 types of wine (your faves) would we find in your

home wine collection and what's your desert island wine?

- Champagne - Salon Blanc de Blanc. The combination of elegance found

in La Grande Dame with the power, maybe a bit more restraint found in

Krug. I love it and is hands down one of my favorite wines ever.

- White Bordeaux -  Domaine de Chevalier. I can still remember

everything that was around me when I tasted a bottle of that for the

first time.

- Grand Cru red Burgundy or a Grand Reserva from Spain - Pinot Noir as

it is my favorite grape and Gran Reserva because I love Spanish

winemaking.

Any interesting suggestions about magazines or online platform?

Decanter.com for wines, foodrepublic.com for food ideas.

Winefolly.com if you're doing a lot of basic wine workshops - it is a

really phenomenal site that is a great reference and a host to a bunch

of great resources.

@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommelier - www.sommeliers.at