Our Sommelier of the month for July 2016 is Sarah Donoher, Head Sommelier at The Art School Restaurant. Sarah has very kindly answered a selection of questions which are below along with her response.
What is your industry background and who has been your mentor or your favourite Sommelier?
I studied a Hospitality Business Management Bsc honours degree at Sheffield Hallam University and gained a 2:1 qualification. As part of my degree I had the opportunity to work within a Michelin starred restaurant called Number One in Edinburgh where I came across the role of the Sommelier my passion for wine was born. I gained my wine and spirits level 1 qualification. I graduated in 2010, moved to Liverpool to work within the Malmaison group to further develop my experience within hospitality and further my sommelier career. Whilst I was there I was inspired and mentored by the amazing Wine and Spirits Director Johnny Walker and gained both the Level 2 and 3 qualifications in wine within two years. I enjoyed sharing my knowledge and also engaging with weekly training sessions so decided to complete the Educator course so I am now a fully qualified nominated Educator for the Wine and Spirits Education Trust.
Assuming you enjoy using Riedel glassware, do you have a favourite glass or decanter? What reaction do you get from customers when you serve their wines in the different varietal specific glasses?
I have two different favourite glasses, the first would be the oaked chardonnay because it has a beautiful bowl shape to swirl your wine round to release the aromas and express its full potential on the palate. My other favourite Riedel glass would be the Cognac Tulip as it’s designed in a completely different way to specifically serve XO cognacs shaped with a small bowl leading to an elegant curved lip to ensure the aromas can be directed straight to the nose.
What is your best experience in your role to date?
My best experience so far at the The Art School Restaurant goes back to March. We had a table in for a gourmet lunch and I sold a double magnum of Chateau La Lagune, Haut Medoc, Bordeaux 2005 which I decanted using the Boa. The amazing part of the experience was decanting the wine and the whole table was overwhelmed when I started pouring the wine at the table and how I used the Boa twisting it bit by bit to pour the wine – A real meal experience. I even gave the host a taster of wine before I decanted it so they could compare the difference of what the Boa had done which was another experience in itself.
What is your favourite food and wine match and which Riedel glass would you use to serve?
My favourite food and wine match would be Peterhead Hake served with a glass of Puligny Montrachet in an Oaked Chardonnay Riedel Glass.