Our Sommelier of the Month for January 2020 is David Lapsley from Etive Restaurant. David has very kindly answered a selection of questions which are below along with his response.
What is your industry background?
I started work with Crerar Hotels and it was with them at a tasting session held by Tarquin de Burgh of De Burgh Wines my interest in wine was sparked and with WSET, Guild of Sommeliers and a personal drive to learn the journey has taken me now to the point where Etive gives me an opportunity to showcase that passion and what I love about wine.
Having moved from Crerar Hotels I was General Manager at some small award winning boutique hotels on the West Coast of Scotland where I further developed my love of wine but it was working at the Taynuilt Hotel where I was General Manager for my now Business partner and friend Chef John McNulty that I fully developed into the role of Sommelier and we created Etive as a restaurant model showcasing great British cuisine and a wine list that would impress and develop as we did.
Do you have a favourite glass or decanter, and what reaction do you get from customers when you serve their wines in the different varietal specific glasses?
At Etive Restaurant we use Riedel glassware exclusively and, if I had to choose one glass I love, it would be the Riedel Veritas Champagne Glass, for me it is everything Riedel embodies, classy, elegant, fine and elevates all sparkling wines to another level.
For those who know Riedel I think when we serve our wines in the correct glassware they seem to become more relaxed, more confident in us, the wine list, the restaurant and in the direction their dining experience is going to go, it’s almost like a seal of approval to them. With guests that don’t know the range its always initially intrigue, the different shape of the glasses in height and width but I always find its the stem, when the diner first takes the glass the elegance and finesse in the stem is what gets them and then it’s the question of “Why are they so different” When that first question is asked and answered I find the questions start to follow on to every wine they have, on the dishes they eat, on the restaurant and us, it’s like a light switch being flicked and suddenly they want to know everything they can find out.
What is your best experience in your role to date? What is your favourite food and wine match and which Riedel glass would you use to serve?
I’m happy and excited to say that I think my best experience is yet to come, I’m still working towards it.
I would say that in first place so far was a “research” end of season outing in 2017 where John and I went to L’enclume which to date is still the most amazing dining experience I have had. The whole thing was memorable, the food, the wine, the service by Sam and his team, Simon Rogan on the pass, it was great.
At Etive Restaurant our feedback and reviews have been fantastic and that has been a great experience building our vision from the ground up. The amount of repeat custom we have and the people who come back time and time again and have become friends over the last 2 years, the trust they have in me is so humbling when it comes to wine recommendations or wine pairings and drives me to continually offer the best service I can every night.
I have had such fun with our matched wine selections, and it has really opened my personal boundaries on food and wine pairing. John in the kitchen has the ability to amplify flavour and his sauces can sometimes be so flavoursome that they become the pairing, if I pair a wine to the main element it doesn’t work, the balance isn’t right but pair to the sauce or accompaniments and it works, the pairing is a success. For me personally I love lamb, roast lamb and a well-made, Rhône Syrah, I think that would be my heaven and obviously in the Riedel Veritas Syrah glass.