Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight: Sören Polonius
I’m very glad to introduce to you yet again a very remarkable sommelier! This man is the founder of “Swesomm” (that if my Swedish is still up to date is the Swedish Sommelier Guild :-) ) , breeder of international TOP sommeliers as he was the coach of 2 winners of the ASI World Sommelier Championships (Andreas Larsson 2010 & Arvid Rosengren 2016) and a few European Champions. He’s also holder of the title of best Swedish Sommelier and sommelier of the year and an example to lots of Nordic (and far beyond) sommeliers. The president of the Belgian Sommelier Guild William ‘Pato’ Wouters calls him the Mourinho amongst the sommeliers
Next to all the coaching he’s also head sommelier of the renowned Esperanto restaurant group . I didn’t have the pleasure yet to meet Sören, but I hope we soon will cross paths :-)
I always like to know what a person who is an inspiration to lots of people has himself as source of inspiration or way of looking at this… That is why I also send the below 10 questions to Sören. Feast your eyes on his answers :-)
What is your favorite wine region to work with?
As a sommelier, I'm trying not to get “stuck” in one single field, but my hart beats a bit harder for Burgundy and Wachau to be honest. Of course, I don’t want to discard Champagne and California, nor Bordeaux. It´s always a difficult question. It´s like choosing between Your children.
What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?
Love, hunger and knowledge. Add the ability to communicate, and You got a very good sommelier.
Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?
I think so. We need to get a bit better to communicate to the rest of the world what we are doing. In contrary to what many think, we´re not only drinking wine day in and day out. It´s about so much more.
When and how did you get the passion for wine?
The first little spark were lit while I did a internship at a hotel, and helped the maitre ´d to do the monthly inventory in the wine cellar. He learned me the pronunciation and often told me a short history surrounding the château or domain. So I got my interest in a quite romantic “packaging”.
However it took a few Years before I took the full step to educate as a sommelier.
Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?
There´s a lot of sources of inspiration in our world. Gerard Basset and Markus del Monego is just a couple of names that I regard to be among the foremost in our ranks, not only for their deep knowledge, but also for their ability to communicate, and will to share their knowledge
What is your approach for pairing wines(or other beverages) with dishes?
Beverages shouldn´t only “work good” with food, it should also lift the course to a higher level. I love to seek new ways, avoiding “old rules” and not only walk on the “beaten paths”. In the end of the day, it´s all about balance, “Yin & Yang”.
Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?
Burgundy, a quite complicated region to many. A visit will shed light to a lot of questions. A bike ride through Côte de Beaune, from Beaune to Puligny with a vineyard map in my hand, was one of the great moments for me while travelling the wine world. A lot of things became so much more clear to me during this bike ride. (Terroir under a magnifying glass.)
For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?
There´s a few wines that I would give a lot for, in order t taste them. It´s difficult to choose one single specific wine. But it would have been interesting to taste the wine served at the “last supper”…
What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school or viticulture studies?
When I graduated from the sommelier education as the number one of class. That was the trigger point for me, from that moment on, I knew that I had found my way “home”.
A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop, winery, etc..?
We all have the luck to work with a passion, which often takes us to the best dining rooms and wine cellars in the world. But it´s the “simple” moments that I would recommend all to actively search for. To jump around among the stones during low tide by the shoreline in Brittany, in search for wild oysters, with a bottle of Muscadet in one hand and an oyster knife in the other. That was one of those moments for me.
Another time we were up in northern Norway, in Lofoten, picking whelks in low tide. Preparing them in wine, parsley and garlic. Eating directly out of the pot, drinking a white grand cru from Puligny, gazing out over the sea, under the midnight sun. Gastronomical romanticism!