For my French speaking readers the name Eric Boschman will sound more familiar as Eric already appears for many years on French TV shows, radio shows, magazines, columns in newspapers, etc…. Eric’s ambition is sharing his passion for wine with as many people as possible.
What many people maybe don’t know is that this former “Best Sommelier of Belgium (1988)” before all his media work has walked quite the path like working in former 3 Michelin star restaurant Chez Bruneau (at that time he worked there it still had its 3 stars), own his own restaurant, write many books on wine/gastronomy, won many prestigious prices and has coached lots of sommeliers that participated to European and World championships. So you could definitely say he knows what he is talking about. If you would ever meet Eric Boschman, you will notice that he breaths wine, he talks wine (and food) and always looks very colorful:-)… to say it in a few words: a very passionate man when it comes to wine/gastronomy. For me passionate people are always my favorite people to listen to as they always want to transmit their enthusiasm/passion to you in every possible way. it is also from these kind of people that you’ll learn most. I asked Eric, just like with a few other top sommeliers or wine personalities, to answer 10 questions to give us a sneak peak in the world and life of a top sommelier.
What is your favorite wine region to work with?
It is really complicated to talk about just one. My life is made up from my passion for wine since I was born; and also since I was “ born in wine” ;- I love to taste new flavors, meet producers I’ve never met before. My favorite is probably to become, but I really loved all the ones I’ve visited and tasted before. To be honest, in Alentejo, Peloponnese, Champagne, Bordeaux, Swartland, Piemonte, Bourgogne, Luxembourg, Wallonia, Douro, Valais, Mosel, Rioja, Central Valley, Curico, I felt like at home
What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?
He must be an open minded guy; speak English and French fluently (the 2 languages of the wine industry in the world), and be able to discover a new taste every day. He must also be an honourable cook, to understand what is a menu and be able to match the wine with the the food. A good sommelier must have a large library, because a lot of information isn’t found on the web, and that web is not always really accurate. I believe that a good sommelier must have a heavy and large “cultural background”; he has to travel, to meet other cultures, felling(feelings?), characters, male, female, and different approachs to wine. The worst sommelier is a sectarian, a guy who believes that a good wine have only one form. Exactly like the moment stream(?) about “vins natures & vins oranges”, it’s ridiculous to close his mind just because of a technical way to vinifiate(?). At least, a good sommelier is a sharer, a story teller. We are not talking about wine or technology, we are sharing human stories and feeling. If it’s just a job or a business, go to work in a bank or any administration because it’s a time-consuming job and we’re never enough paid for what we give; and that’s normal…
Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?
The sommelier is really underestimated. We are more artist than the Chefs, because we never repeat the same combination between food and wine, because the circumstances are changing all the time. We are comedians, we are acting. Nobody goes to a restaurant just for eating; no one. If you’re hungry, you eat a sandwich or any fast food. When people go to a restaurant, they ‘re looking for a complete “experience”. If the food is gorgeous and the service wrong, you never go back to that restaurant, but if the food is just “average” but the service give you some “love& fun” you’ll be back and give a second chance to the chef. It’s just a general climate that the media create about chefs since Paul Bocuse decided (for private reasons) to “kill” the service, everyone seems to forget that the waiters are fundamental and the sommelier can easily kill the dinner by matching wrong wines to the food…
When and how did you get the passion for wine?
I hate “routine”, I’m probably the worst person in terms of administration and repeating moment. Since I was in the hotel school, I was confronted by that state of mind. Wine is a daily source of rebirth. That was the only way to survive in that job that I love
Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?
Eric Baumard. Is a real genius, a man with one of the biggest knowledge I know. But he stays human, never pretentious, just sharing his passion for life, wine and fun. And for him,there is a goal at every moment: have fun ! He Is the best sommelier of Europe, vice world champion, to summarise his titles; and is the actual restaurant director of the 3 Michelin stars George V restaurant in Paris. He’s handicapped since he was 18 following a crash, and he rebuilt his life completely after that terrible moment. HeIs more than an example, he’s one of my best friends.
What is your approach for pairing wines(or other beverages) with dishes?
I’m following 2 or 3 different approaches. One is the most important: following my instinct, I can not explain exactly, but it works I feel the wine and I imagine the full taste of the dish. I try to establish(?) found a king of complicity between the taste and flavors, and I’m looking for a “structural opposition” to give some volume.
My second way is to combine by color. Clear food needs a white wine or a blond beer, dark food needs a red or dark beer; it’s a base to go further
Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?
Go to Douro, because it’s the most beautiful scenic landscape in the world and the wines are gorgeous. I love Port, it ages more than anyone (any other), and better than a lot.
For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?
Chateauneuf du Pape Marie Beurrier from Henry Bonnot on a really old vintage
Dom Pérignon 1964 on magnum, because I’ve already drunk it twice and I want to taste it again and again
Chartreuse Tarragone 1964 Yellow because it’s the one my ex wife and I keep to drink the day she decides to pass the way by asking her active euthanasie. And I don’t want to finish the bottle.
What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school?
Work at the Royal Palace when Francois Mitterand was on his official visit to Belgium. My last day at school was also a great moment, for different reasons.
A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop, winery, etc..?
I’ve no commercial issue with public, but I’ve created the first Wine Man Show in the world. It’s a stand up show during around 1h45 to 2h, following the atmosphere. Before coming, people just need to be ready for surprises. They don’t need any experience or wine knowledge