Name: Daniel Korntner
At the Moment: USA/New York
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Any particular mentors at that time?
I first came in touch with wine when I was 16 years old during my apprenticeship at the Hotel Sacher Salzburg. I was fascinated and developed a passion for wine under the leadership of our Sommelier, Konrad Resch. He became my mentor and pushed me every day to become better, especially with Austrian wine, which made about 85% of our wine list.
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?
A Sommelier is a leading member of the service team who brings a great meal to a new level and makes it a unique experience. He/she takes the guests on a journey to the wine regions without leaving the restaurant. More importantly, a Somm has the courage to try something new, something nobody has done before. An example of this mentality stems from my former Head Sommelier at the Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin, Shahab Jalali. He lives this positive lifestyle of “thinking differently”. -
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?
This depends on what goals you have. Several years of experience in your home country are always beneficial to becoming more confident in your field. If you see yourself doing an international Sommelier education i.e. Court of Master Sommeliers or WSET, the step out of the comfort zone is a huge plus to become better. It is also very important for you as person to experience different cultures and to learn another language. You, your colleagues and your guests will benefit from these experiences.
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what's in your opinion would be the best approach?
Listening to the guest is the most important skill a Sommelier should have. You should find out what the guest normally drinks and if he/she is open to explore something new. If so, you should explain the wine and the taste, build a good relationship with the guest and avoid miscommunication. If not, have some classics or well-known labels in mind. -
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?
“The wine should be the star, not the glass.” I’m working with Riedel at my restaurant. It’s sufficient for our daily use. For Grand Cru’s and high quality wine I prefer Zalto. -
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
Trust your taste and instinct. Don’t be afraid to pair older wines with food. -
Should a Sommelier(e) taste the guest's wine?
It depends on the establishment. In a fine dining restaurant a Sommelier should taste every wine.
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?
The most important ingredient is to know the concept of your restaurant to build a wine list around the cuisine you offer. I prefer a lower mark up because the guests know how much a wine is supposed to cost, or they figure it out with their smart phones. With a lower pricing you have a higher chance to sell a second bottle or a bottle of dessert wine.
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
Stay in touch with colleagues, read wine magazines or blogs and visit as many tastings as possible.
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?
If I find a new wine at a tasting or when I dine out and the quality convinces me, I’ll put it on the wine list. In my opinion the wine should speak for itself. When the wine tells me about its origin, its soil and climate I can stand behind the product and the winemaker.
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
I would be a Riesling, from bone dry with high acidity to sweet and delicate. Not just for the wine… -
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?
German Riesling, Burgundy (white and red) and red wine from Portugal. The dessert wines from the Mosel Valley in Germany.
Any interesting suggestions about magazines or online platform?
Wine Spectator, Decanter, Guild Somm
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers - www.sommeliers.at