Our Sommelier of the Month for September 2019 is George Harpau from The Slaughters Manor House in Lower Slaughter, Cheltenham. George has very kindly answered a selection of questions which are below along with his response.
How did you get into the wine industry?
I’ve been working in the Hospitality Industry since I was 14. It became my passion to learn about great food and wines and how they pair to deliver an exceptional culinary experience.
Why do you enjoy using Riedel glassware within your restaurant?
I do enjoy using Riedel glassware, mainly because of the quality and variation of the product that Riedel offer. I find both these features essential to capture the “small” details that make the “big” differences when serving the wine.
What reaction do you get from customers when you serve their wines in the different varietal specific glasses?
In the majority of cases, our clientele would have some knowledge and would be expecting their wine glasses to have different shapes and sizes depending on the wine, so raising up to their expectations is an absolute MUST for us.
And for the customers who don’t have the background knowledge and aren’t expecting this, they are certainly in for an amazing service and they are sold for our excellent attention to detail (eg: 2 glasses of red wine- Merlot & Pinot Noir- served in different types of glasses). At this point they would normally ask “why” giving us a great opportunity to engage and share our knowledge, all of these resulting into a unique guest experience.
Have your guests been impressed with our new range of Performance stemware with the optic impact within the bowl?
This is now an element of surprise as the guests don’t expect this and all they can see, as we serve the wine, is that the bowl is not the same shape as they know it. This again is a great window to engage and explain the benefits.
What has been your greatest wine experience to date?
The greatest wine experiences for me so far have been the professional wine training courses that I attended as I could constantly assimilate and acknowledge the great wines across the world and how they changed over time. It is always a great personal experience to create a wine pairing offer for our amazing tasting menu or to recommend a great bottle of wine to our finest guests! I am still looking forward to enjoying a personal trip to a French Vineyard!
Sommeliers have so much influence on new Riedel users. How in your view should we portray the “Riedel effect” at the table/bar?
The Riedel Effect, in my opinion, adds the touch of experience and professionalism, the difference between “common” and “outstanding” and one of the small differences that takes an experience from “great” to “unique”! Our customers will recognize the quality of Riedel glassware on the spot and the rest will follow…
What has been your biggest wine faux pas?
Difficult to say…in fairness I can’t give you an example of my own yet, but I have been a part of experiencing the discovery of 24 bottles of a wedding wine to be corked.