Our Sommelier of the Month for November 2018 is Lena Gasparikova, Head Sommelier at Beast. Lena has very kindly answered a selection of questions which are below along with her response.
How did you get into the wine industry?
I started my hospitality journey working as a cocktail waitress on large cruise ships. Quickly I got promoted to sommelier and learnt to navigate a busy section. However, my passion and interest in wine developed after I moved to London and entered the WSET programme, which led me to working in some of the best restaurants in town.
Why do you enjoy using Riedel glassware within your restaurant?
I’ve used Riedel glasses and decanters throughout my 17 years in wine now. In many places only the finest wines were served in Riedel, but here at Beast, we’ve used Riedel’s Extreme range as our only glassware since the opening. The glasses look elegant and are large enough for wines to open up and breath, as well as extremely durable and well-suited for a busy operation.
What reaction do you get from customers when you serve their wines in different varietal specific glasses?
We get many compliments on our glasses. I imagine, they are larger glasses than most people are used to, or drink from at home.
What’s been your greatest wine experience?
I must say the working experience as a whole; as sommelier I’ve tasted some legendary wines, travelled the world and met amazing people. It’s been a great ride so far.
What’s been the funniest wine moment in your career?
My funniest moment is also my biggest faux pas. See below.
What’s been your biggest wine faux pas?
On a busy formal night back in my early sommelier days on ships, a guest asked me to serve a bottle of champagne he had brought in. I hadn’t realized the bottle wasn’t cold enough and as I was twisting the cork, the pressure caused it to burst open, making me jump and the bottle slipped out of my hands. Trying to catch it in the fall, I bend down just as it hit the floor. Split second later I felt a fountain of champagne hit me square in the face for what felt like an eternity as the surrounding tables fell silent and watched on. I blindly staggered off to clean myself up and promptly returned to the station. A mortifying moment for me, but what can you do?! The show must go on!! I carried on as nothing happened and continued to serve my parched guests.