Name: Gayan Indika Manawadu
Nationality: Sri Lankan
At the moment: Maldives
Currently: Sommelier at Gili LANKANFUSHI Resort & Spa (click)
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Any particular mentors at that time?
My first encounter with the Wine was in 2004, when I started working with Taj Samudra Hotel. At that time, my first sip wasn’t a great pleasure. It gave me energy to explore more about fermented grape juice called... Wine. During that period Sommelier profession was not well stabilized. When I work in the Maldives as a Bartender I realized what a great achievement to become a Wine Sommelier. I have had few Mentors initially Sommelier Jasper, Sommelier Rohan, Sommelier Buddhika, Wine Consultant Mr Enrico, Mr Jeffrey Benson and my present Head Sommelier Fabrice and last but not the least, my Food and Beverage Manager Mr Andre. I am grateful to all of them. Without them, I won’t be where I am today.
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?
Know your wines! There has never been more to know as a Sommelier. The number of regions, varietals, winemakers, styles, molecules and the important players are mind-boggling today. Study, taste and earn your stripes. Just as important, be yourself and know the trends! Being true to yourself will free you to select– wines that taste great and match well with not just food, but LIFE!!!
The person I admire most are – Tim Gaiser MS, Som Fabrice
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?
My advice is believe in yourself, move forward to the right direction, learn new things about wine as it’s a never ending subject, strive to explore new things and fall in love with what you do. Identify your weakness. Always keep in touch with good mentor. And when the
opportunity comes knocking your door apply for the job. It’s your own decision for your future!
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what's in your opinion would be the best approach?
Read your customer. Identify what he /she needs. Ask questions and know your guest’s preference.
In my point of view, the best approach: LISTEN to the customer's voice to guide you thru the recommendation. Pick 3 best alternative selections which you believe a perfect match for the dish. We are not only sales person but also a guide and entertain the guests. A Sommelier needs to have a good reputation and passion with his job.
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?
Wine glasses really can make a big difference and also big impact in the taste of your wine. Making decision in choosing the best glassware for services is a plus point. You should be aware of the cost of the glassware. Handle them with care and attention. I use best well known 2 brands- Riedel, Schott Zwiesel
I have been to Austria Riedel company and I have seen how they handmade, incredible varietal base glassware.
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
When you create a perfect food and wine harmony you should also listen to other’s opinions. Do not intimidate other’s opinions, Be confident of your experience and skills. I might do often scientific direction, basic recommended fundamental, sometimes by Soul. From a Sommelier’s perspective, the best pairing is to match the food and wine or any kind of beverage, exceed customer expectations with pleasure and memorable experience. As a service professional, always respect and consider the guest’s taste & flavor preferences. However, you need to give a clear advice, guide them to the right direction on the basis of your understanding of the food and wine and offer other beverages options available.
Should a Sommelier(e) taste the guest's wine?
It’s happening mostly in Europe Michelin star restaurant. In some of the resorts in the Maldives, but not in the resort where I am currently working, it doesn’t have a restriction. According to concept everything is possible. Our first priority is our guest. If the guest does not accept or refuse the bottle, we always do open new one. In a tropical island like the Maldives, wine could be a bit different in the glass, flavors, structure, balance and serving locations which is quite challenging. Your job as a sommelier is to serve wines in the best condition to your guests in the best way possible. As a Sommelier, tasting the wines you serve is essential identify potential problems where it possible.
Where would you suggest a young Sommelier start searching for Sommelier positions on the internet in your country ?
There are ample opportunities available now a day different part of the world, to find best place to Job postings for sommelier positions are often found on LinkedIn, Indeed and www.sommeliers.at , Job-Maldives.com many other job search sites. You have to search everywhere: Internet, Magazines, ask people who knows more about the industry available opportunities.
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?
Today, thanks to the technology every consumer can check the market price of the wines in the internet. The calculation has to be fair, comprehensible, and flexible.
When you create wine list for a place like Maldives, definitely you have to face several challenges- Country culture, climate conditions, High tax, suppliers portfolio, cost margins , most important customer profile. When you open bottle of wine, you’re not only paying for the value of the bottle. The value of money you paid for is equivalent to the beautiful atmosphere, freedom, privacy, service and of course knowledge. My personal opinion rather than Extensive wine list is that you create some good varietal, diverse, new trend, well balanced great wine selection. Important determinant in pricing is the negotiation with importers, suppliers, search web site international market price, if you aware contemporary other competitive resort price great advantage.
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
Always be aware of the wine market behaviors, be focus on the new trends, striving to gain knowledge, travel for explore, building close relationship with wine industry people. Constantly Use internet to read wine industry documentary updates.
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?
Participating international wine trade exhibition facilitated tasting opportunity. Distribute supplier as soon as possible, promoted by people who are already powerful in the wine world.
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
I wish I would be charming, less popular, gaining more attention to wine world, one of the most food friendly wine grape – Gruner Veltliner
GV Austrian signature variety, crisp, spicy, very versatile Gruner Veltliner has been its flagship wine. Gruner Veltliner wines pair well with a wide range of foods. Their naturally high acidity and full-bodied texture make them a versatile and exotic alternative to chardonnay
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?
My top 3 wines-
My desert Island I will take- Spice Route Malabar, Swartland, South Africa.
Any interesting suggestions about magazines or online platform?
Guild Somm, Decanter, Wine spectator, cellartracker, wine searcher… many more great websites available today.
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers - www.sommeliers.at