Name: Alexandru Dan
At the moment: United Kingdom
Currently: Vice President - Romanian Sommelier Association
Assistant F&B Manager/Sommelier
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Any particular mentors at that time?
I discovered my passion for wines in 2004, during my first job in Hospitality, as a Waiter, at Athenee Palace Hilton, from Bucharest. There was a monthly event about Wines and other Beverages. In one of the events, we had an exclusivist launching of one Winery and for the 1st time, I saw and heard a very professional speech and description made by mister Dan Muntean. I was fascinated and my goal was to become a Professional Sommelier. I meet my first mentor in 2006, his name was Doru Dumitrescu, a great Sommelier that helped Romanian Wine Industry to develop. In the last 3 years, my mentor and friend was Florin Voica, how is helping me to increase my Leadership Skills.
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?
In our days, a Sommelier has to be open minded, knowledgeable, polite, a very good team member, to anticipate the guest needs and to make a proper pairing between food menu and selection of wine/beverage. The presence of a Sommelier in a fine dining will be the etiquette of a high standard service. A Sommelier that I really admire is Paolo Basso, which has been constant in the Top in the last 10-12 years. Another Sommelier that I admire is Soren Polonius, with excellent Trainer skills.
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 would recommend them to attend wine events, tastings, to try to listen to their Head Sommelier and Restaurant Manager. To be close to the guest and to put in first place the Guest Satisfaction. A pleased guest will bring back in restaurant another 10. To have initiative and to be self-educated. Every day, we learn something new.
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what's in your opinion would be the best approach?
First of all, I try to understand the guest taste and preference regarding the wines. After I know the guest preferences, I will start to put the food Menu in value. It is very important to offer to the people great memories.
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?
This is a very good question and a trendy one. Probably, most of the Sommeliers started to work with varietal grape glasses.
At the moment, in my tastings, I am working with Riedel Varietal Glasses, but I am a fan also of Chef & Sommeliers and Spiegelau selection.
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
My advise is to make a balance between taste and Sommelier recommendations. The best wine is that one that you like, but a Somm advice could create a memorable lunch/dinner.
Should a Sommelier(e) taste the guest's wine?
A Sommelier could taste the guest’s wine, with the guest agreement.
The communication is very important in Restaurant.
Where would you suggest a young Sommelier start searching for Sommelier positions on the internet in your country?
As an advice for a young Sommelier, it will be to search to work abroad Romania, they can apply for online jobs in UK or Cruise Lines. Probably, a new market will be U.A.E. and Hong Kong.
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?
A question that involves several ingredients: The main one is to manage that the Wine List is made based on the Restaurant & food Menu specifically. It is very important to offer a large selection of wines by the glass and half bottles, will give the opportunity to the guests to taste more wine from the Wine List. The prices should be accessible to encourage wine consumption. Another main ingredient is that all the staff involved in beverage service to be aware of the products.
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
Reading, tasting new wines, attending wine & spirits event, traveling in different wine regions.
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?
A sensitive question. A new vineyard would get my attention if I will see a constancy in their wine quality. If they are respecting the grape and terroir typicity. The Marketing policy has to be proper and well organized.
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
Probably, I will be a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot, because my main skills are adaptability and positivism.
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?
I will mention my top 5 favorite wines, because all of them are memorable for me:
Harlan Estate-Napa Valley, Ducru Beaucaillou Saint Julien-Medoc, Chardonnay Peter Michael, Cune Imperial Gran Reserva-Rioja and the Romanian grape ’’Feteasca Neagra’’.
As a dessert wine will be Recioto Della Valpolicella from Masi Agricola.
In my Wine Collection are, at the moment: Ducru Beaucaillou, Chardonnay Peter Michael, and Recioto.
Any interesting suggestions about magazines or online platform?
It is good to be connected on A.S.I. website, Decanter, Wine Spectator, Wine Searcher, WSET, GuildSomm.
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers - www.sommeliers.at