Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight: Ivo Dvořák

I’ve already put lots of sommeliers in the spotlight, but it is far from over to put them in the spotlight… as there are many many more that I want to put in the spotlight. The reason I do this is because a sommelier’s role in a restaurant is as important as that from a chef as if one of both doesn’t do its task correctly the experience for the customer won’t be the same thing. The next sommelier I want to introduce to you is Ivo Dvořák from the Czech republic.

Ivo is a classical trained sommelier (meaning that he did hotel management school) who so far has already had a wonderful career. He started his career working in several restaurants in the Prague like restaurant Vltava and the famous restaurant Flambée that unfortunately doesn’t exist anymore.

Life as a sommelier isn’t easy or any job in HoReCa as the hours are irregular, etc… and just like any other job you need to do it with passion, if not you won’t do it for a long time. So I do understand (as I worked many years in my dad’s restaurant while on Hotel mgmt school) at a certain time you need to decide if you’ll keep working in restaurants, hotels, etc. or if you head the direction of retail or for a winery. This choice usually comes when the topic ‘children’ comes :-) :-) . Not sure if this is the case of ivo, but in the year 2000 he decided to go for the next step in his career and start working for Czech wine maker Bohemia Sekt (that they also sell in Belgium at Delhaize and I have drunk at many occasions).

Today Ivo works as head sommelier for the Czech branch of supermarket chain Makro. Eventhough Ivo doesn’t work in restaurants anymore, he didn’t sit still :-) over the years he won many national and international awards and titles like the Ruinart Challenge, etc… but the one that I want to mention is his world title Habanosommelier which is knowing everything about sigars. A job of sommeliers doesn’t stop at knowing wines!! It is so much more as you need to have knowledge about wine, liquors, spirits, sigars, food, etc…

Next to his work for Makro Ivo also gives many wine courses and lectures both in Czech Republic as abroad and he is also vice-president of the Czech Sommelier Association. Very honored to add him to my list of top sommeliers

What is your favorite wine region to work with?

it is a tie score between Bourgogne and Champagne :-) I both love them a lot.

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

Humility, responsiveness to clients, will and desire to explore and learn, to listen to others, pass on knowledge, devotion to wine.

Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?

Really good sommeliers are well remunerated, but there are many "also-sommeliers" who spoil the reputation of other professionals.

When and how did you get the passion for wine?

I studied the school with a focus on food and wine was part of the curriculum. It was 1985 - 1989. Since then, the wine is my passion.

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

Gerard Basset for his knowledge and achievements in the field of wine and sommelier. Enrico Bernardo for its Italian charm and lightness at the presentation of wine. Georges Pertuiset for his big Burgundian heart and humanity with which accesses to others.

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

One of the most exciting disciplines sommelier skills. It is the basis for the sommelier's work that delivers maximum culinary experiences to guests of the restaurant. But we always respect the requirements and preferences of the client.

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

Extremely difficult question. In the world there are many interesting regions, whose natural conditions, landscape, vineyards and a wine they produce are understandable for everyone. Then there are regions where it should go person knowledgeable about history, architecture, philosophy of production a local wines, and they are the regions of Bourgogne and Champagne.

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

Each mature wine at its peak. It does not matter if the wine comes from Champagne, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Piemonte, Toscana, or other significant appellation. There are many cult wines which have an exclusive reputation, but can often surprise even wines from smaller and not so adorovaných appellation. Perhaps this surprise brings me greater joy.

What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school?

Throughout the study, it was an amazing ride. :-)

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

I love truffles in any form. I like many other specialties and delicacies in connection with wine. I love regional dishes in the pairings with regional wines. I consider gastronomy as the basis for the culture of every man.

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