Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight: João Pires
The following sommelier I want to introduce to you is without any doubt one of the most respected sommeliers of Portugal. I’m talking about the one and only João Pires.
If I look at his career I can only say that I’m very impressed with the path he has walked…sommelier trainings in some of the best restaurants in the world like La tour D’argent** (Paris), Le Cinq ***(Paris), Alain Ducasse *** (Paris), The Crillon** (Paris)…to continue working at The Vineyard at Stockcross** (Newbury/U.K.), Capital Hotel** (London/U.K.), Gordon Ramsay RHR*** (London/U.K.), DINNER by Heston Blumenthal ** (London/U.K.), The Ritz Four Seasons (Lisbon, Portugal) and the list goes on and on…
If you already found that incredible… next to all of the above he is also Master Sommeliers, WSET Educator, Master of Port, holder of many sommelier diploma’s, judge in many International sommelier competitions, teacher of many national and international wine courses (both for professionals as amateurs), holder of many awards, writer, wine consultant etc… basically I’m not surprised that every Portuguese sommelier look up to him and tries to learn from him :-) and the fact that he a very friendly and humble person only makes an even bigger man.
As most of you will know, restaurant life is very stressful?! So it won’t surprise that in the little spare time João tries to relax as much as possible by doing Yoga and listening to Jazz :-)
What is your favorite wine region to work with?
No favorite really but tend to be classic
What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?
Passion, humbleness and most importantly hard work
Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?
Not really ... we are not always taken seriously, that's a fact. Up to us to build and credit it worldwide. I believe we are on the good way.
When and how did you get the passion for wine?
25 years ago with the good help and vision of a Portuguese Maitre D./ Sommelier
Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?
Various. Olivier Poussier, Gerard Basset, Gerard Margeon, Mario Louro, Jancis Robinson, Debra Meuburg to name just a few.
What is your approach for pairing wines(or other beverages) with dishes?
Weight mainly and acidity balance. Color can also give you a good hint, not forgetting guests' preferences
Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?
Douro. Beauty, terroir, great wines and of course Portuguese.
For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?
What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school?
My good and inspiring old teacher unfortunately not among us anymore, Dr. Caldeira Pais.
A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop,etc…?
At home with my late mom.
By far the best CHEF I have ever came across