Our Sommelier of the Month for November 2019 is Abigail Reid from Rathfinny Tasting Room. Abigail has very kindly answered a selection of questions which are below along with her response.
How did you get into the wine industry?
Whilst completing my hospitality degree, I undertook my placement year at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London. It’s fair to say my knowledge of wine prior to working at such a refined restaurant was lacking however this experience exposed me fully to the vast world of wine. With regular training by MS Stefan Neumann (I have fond memories of Stefan clearing set tables during briefings and sprawling out maps of regions- his approach to wine education was completely inspirational) and weekly tasting sessions by wine producers & brand ambassadors from the world over, my knowledge and passion for the industry grew. Being a Sussex girl, I felt particularly proud of the wines coming from the county and became aware of Rathfinny as my nearest vineyard to home as it was developing. Once I had graduated, I think it is fair to say I hotly pursued a role here and am extremely grateful and fortunate that a restaurant opening was on the cards. I am now studying to complete my WSET Level 3 next month & am excited to continue my career within the industry at Rathfinny.
Why do you enjoy using Riedel glassware within your restaurant?
We strive to deliver a memorable experience when all guests visit the estate- whether it is for a quick tasting or a full evening tasting menu, the finer details matter. Having beautiful glassware is a must, especially to showcase our own wines! We regularly have sommelier groups from renowned restaurants & hotels alongside influential wine journalists/experts visiting the estate & using Riedel provides confidence that the wines will be presented looking and tasting at their very best.
What reaction do you get from customers when you serve their wines in different varietal specific glasses?
We often have guests admiring the glassware quality & shine- we use Cabernet Merlot glasses for our reds of which the size & shape draws many compliments. We also use Riedel cocktail & spirit glassware to showcase our Seven Sisters spirits range & frequently have requests to purchase branded sparkling flutes- so a very positive reaction all round!
What’s been your greatest wine experience?
Visiting multiple wineries in Franschooek, South Africa by horseback! It was a fantastic way to view the valley, taking in all the scenery & vineyards in between tasting stops- needless to say, the last few legs between the final wineries were interesting!
What’s been your biggest wine faux pas?
Being a predominantly sparkling wine estate, I like to think of myself as competent when opening a bottle in the correct manner having cracked open more bottles than I dream to think of. However, whilst opening a bottle of Blanc de Noirs a few months back during the full flow of a busy service, I twisted the bottle too hard & the cork flew out, quickly succeeded by a flow of sparkling wine. I dropped the bottle on my foot (just to ensure I managed to cover the entirety of me, of course!) Luckily this was behind the bar, however did not go without notice of most of the tables. I’ve heard of champagne showers- not sure if Sussex Sparkling showers has the same ring to it though!