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Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight: Romana Echenspercher

Let me introduce to you one of the international top sommeliers that will be judging during the competition of Best Sommelier of Belgium Romana Echsperger. Since 2015 Romana is one of the 8 Masters of wine in Germany who has gained much experience during her years as (head) sommelier in lots of high-end restaurant like restaurant Vendôme*** near Cologne. Romana has also done lots of internships in Germany, Spain and Italy and has won many national and international sommelier titles

The last few year she has mostly been travelling the world as wine educator, wine consultant, journalist and ambassador promoting German wines around the globe. So she’ll be the perfect person to teach me more about German wines as I almost know nothing about them Romana has also co- written a book about the basics from wine together with another big wine personality Janice Robinson and Filip Veheyden.

Let’s get to know Romana a bit better and see what she has answered to the 10 questions I posed her :-)

What is your favorite wine region to work with?

Difficult to say, there are so many regions that I love. However, if I should decide I would go for Franconia. I love Silvaner which they have on commitment and fits with almost any food (I am a notorious underdog-supporter)

Furthermore, you find great Riesling and Pinot Blanc as well as outstanding Pinot Noir over there. So – what do you need more for some perfect pairings?

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

20% humor

20% having no „porcelaine-allergy“ – meaning: be a good colleague!!!

20% high level knowledge about psychology and psychological disorders to survive in a restaurant

20% Very good general knowledge – to be able to do some convincing small talk (don’t say thinks like „Madrid or Mailand – Italy is always worth traveling“)

10% Very good physical condition and being able to organize yourself

10% Knowledge about wine, food pairing, service, etc.,…

Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?

No – I don’t think so. I think if you are long enough in the business you and you are doing a good job, you get more attention then in any other business.

When and how did you get the passion for wine?

In the restaurant during my apprenticeship in the Hotel Königshof in Munich. They have a tremendously big wine list and one of the best Sommeliers (which is still working there). One day he brought me a tasting sample from a bottle that he just opened with the words: „Taste – It’s not bad“ – it was Romanée Conti out from a Magnum bottle. If you don’t know anything about wine – I got immediately that this is something special.

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

Stéphane Gass from the Restaurant Schwarzwaldstube in Traube Tonbach. I don’t know anybody who is a better taster.

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

Texture, Texture, Texture!!! I was never the type of Sommelier who was sniffing himself to death – talking about hundreds of flavors. The texture of wine and food has to fit – then comes the basic aromatics.

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

Mosel – to understand how much work it can be to get a damn glass of wine.

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

For great Burgundy and Champagne

What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school or viticulture studies?

The inauguration party when I became Master of Wine. It was in the vintner’s hall in London – the atmosphere was so stunning. Furthermore, my beloved parents, who never travelled that much, were there.

I will never forget my father sitting in the corner with my MW colleague from Japan – Kenichi Ohashi and laughing themselves to death.

I asked him later „Hey Dad – what did you say to him? You don’t speak English and he doesn’t speak German?“

My father said: „I think he asked me where I come from.“

Me: „And what did you say?“

My father: „Oh – Bayern München“

Kenichi said then: „Oh – Beckenbauer“

My father: „Oh – Schweinsteiger“

So this was the whole conversation – talking about soccer stars. This was so funny.

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

Drinking the best wine that you have at home with the most beloved people.

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