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Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight: Arvid Rosengren

There are a lot of sommeliers that I had on my list that I wanted to ‘interview’ and one that absolutely had to be on the list was this year’s winner of the title ‘Best Sommelier of the world’ Arvid Rosengren. I have never witnessed the World Championship, but if I already see the difficulty level on country level (in Belgium)… I can only imagine how difficult it must be on the international level.

What surprises me even more is that Arvid is only 31 years old!!! An impressive age to already be working on this level… Arvid currently works (already some years) in the trendy NYC restaurant Chalie Bird (a neighborhood restaurant that combines great food and a fun and in my eyes has something Scandinavian over it) as wine director. What is funny about this is that the reason for Arvid to move to NYC and to work there is just because some friends of his said he had to do it

If you would want to know Arvid’s whole carreer I would suggest reading his biography

I very glad that just like with all the other sommeliers Arvid found the time to answer 10 questions to find out more about the life as sommelier.

What is your favorite wine region to work with?

To be a great sommelier, you have to be an omnivore, and love all kinds of wine. I do have particular strong feelings for Piemonte, Jerez, Mosel, Northern Rhône, Galicia and the Loire valley among others. However, the most fun, infuriating, difficult yet rewarding region to work with is Burgundy. The level of complexity is just unparalleled.

What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?

An almost impossible combination of varied and sometimes opposing skillsets. Passion, empathy and humility are the most important. But to be great you of course need knowledge too, as well as organizational skills and fundamental understanding of economy.

Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?

I think it’s depending on where you are. In some markets it is undervalued and underdeveloped. In others the sommeliers are approaching the level of rock star chefs.

When and how did you get the passion for wine?

I was always intrigued by flavor and aromas, so I tasted wine from a young age (but not great wine for sure). I really got serious when I was 20 and started working with wine. I never went back.

Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?

There are so many role models. Gerard Basset, Andreas Larsson, Bobby Stuckey and Richard Betts are all people I admire and look up to, for different reasons.

What is your approach for pairing wines(or other beverages) with dishes?

Easy does it. I used to taste through hundreds of bottles to find the right 5 to serve in a wine menu. What I figured out is that even though we put crazy effort into it, people’s taste is still subjective. So pairing for me is foremost about good wine and good food, and avoiding the most common pitfalls and disasters.

Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?

So many choices! Jerez probably. It is such a special place, and so hard to understand just from reading about it.

For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?

Haha, I’ve been pretty fortunate in being able to taste most of my dream wines. There are of course bucket list wines that are, like 1945 Romanée Conti that I would love to get a chance to try

What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school?

Not hotel management, but Culinary school! We were a small group that got hired by a local hunting farm to organize small dinners for their clients. We went totally overboard with everything… crazy decorations using half of the forest, stuffed animals etc, different every day.

A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop, winery, etc..?

I often get asked what is the best wine I’ve ever tasted and usually it’s impossible to say, I’ve tasted a lot, forgotten a lot too. But I think I can answer that since last year, when I tasted with Gérard and Jean-Louis Chave in their cellars in Mauves after a brutally hot day of walking the vineyards. The bottle of 1978 Hermitage that Gérard opened for us will always hold a special place in my heart and memory.

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