Our Sommelier of the Month for August 2019 is Adam Manning from Restaurant Tristan. Adam has very kindly answered a selection of questions which are below along with his response.
How did you get into the wine industry?
My career in hospitality began in cocktail bars and hotels in London. I moved back to Horsham a few years ago and opened a cocktail bar with my friends and then a craft beer bar for a local brewery. I regularly dined at Restaurant Tristan as a guest before I was asked to join the team to look after the beverage program. To be offered a position in a Michelin-starred restaurant is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I was honoured. It had been years since I'd worked the floor in a restaurant setting, but I very quickly fell in love with it. Wine has now become my everyday focus, which is exciting because every day I learn something new.
Why do you enjoy using Riedel glassware within your restaurant?
Riedel glassware shows that a venue takes their wine list seriously. It goes without saying that it is the best way of showcasing fine wine, but I believe that a rising tide lifts all boats; entry level wines are also elevated to show their best qualities. The role of Front of House is to help our guests to feel at ease and give everyone an unforgettable experience. For me personally, part of that is democratising wine and making it accessible. It doesn't matter which end of the wine list you order from, we can be confident that with Riedel glassware, the wine will show its absolute best.
What reaction do you get from customers when you serve their wines in different varietal specific glasses?
As soon as we moved over to Riedel, guests started commenting on the glasses. It's also very common for guests to start asking questions about the glassware when they are about half way through one of our tasting menus. Many want to find out more about the different glass shapes and why we've chosen them for those particular wines. My favourite glass is the Riedel Restaurant Pinot Noir as it really lifts the aromatics of lighter-bodied reds, but I also love the Riedel Restaurant Champagne glass as its bowl size and shape is great for drinking sparkling wine throughout the meal - it's really well designed.
What’s been your greatest wine experience?
I could be predictable and talk about being in Champagne and drinking recently-disgorged 1982 from magnum, but everyone has a story like that... Instead, I'll just say that I firmly believe that my favourite wine is the one in front of me at the time. When I'm on holiday in Europe, the sun is setting, and I've got a carafe of whatever the locals are drinking, I'm more than happy.
What’s been your biggest wine faux pas?
Many years ago, I was serving behind a nightclub bar in the City and a gentleman ordered a magnum of a popular Rose champagne. I was still very wet behind the ears but eager to please, so I ran off to fetch the bottle. I removed the foil and cage and left the bottle on the back bar whilst I gathered glasses. What happened next is no surprise now, but it terrified me at the time - the cork popped out with a huge bang and hit the ceiling before falling back down a few feet from me. Miraculously, not a single drop of wine left the bottle and somehow, presumably because of the music volume and everyone enjoying themselves, nobody around me noticed. I don't really know how I got away with it, but it was a close shave and not a mistake I've made again!