I know that with all those foreign top sommeliers that it almost seems I don’t put our own Belgian sommeliers in the spotlight anymore. The following sommelier I wish to put in the spotlight is Sybille Troubleyn.
It wasn’t easy to convince her to do the interview as she was of the opinion that she isn’t a sommelier anymore (not working in a restaurant/hotel). I saw/see it different. For me she is definitely a sommelier as she wants to share her knowledge about wine just like the ones working in a restaurant… the only difference is that she does it in front of a class room. For our readers who wouldn’t know Sybille, she is also known as Miss WSET as it is thanks to her that WSET (largest wine educator in the world) trainings can be followed in Belgium. So basically this makes Sybille THE reference for international recognized trainings/qualifications regarding wine/spirits in Belgium. WSET courses are followed by both the (extra motivated) amateurs and professional people in wine and sommelier world.
It was after finishing her year at one of Belgium’s best hotellerie schools Spermalie in Bruges Sybille’s passion or interest for wine started growing. It must be said that after her studies she decided to dedicate her time more to educating people in wine and not so much working in restaurants. Over the years she has been wine educator for various organizations and both on Belgian as International level like European Academy of Wine Education, BIVB, CIVB and obviously also for WSET :-) She has also been a frequent contributor in Vinomagazine.
So again she is without any doubt a sommelier..enjoy reading and knowing more about her
What is your favorite wine region to work with?
As a wine educator we talk about and taste wines from all over the world. It depends on the day, my mood, the occasion etc…
What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?
A great sommelier is a good listener, can ask the right (short) questions to find out what his client wants. He/she can serve the perfect wine for the right person in all styles and budgets. He / she provides a good mix between knowledge and entertainment. A good sommelier is a team player. He/she can train his staff or colleagues to give them enough self-confidence on the work floor to work well with the wines available on the wine list. He / she makes him/herself, as it were superfluous on the front lines, but essential in the background so that in the absence of the sommelier everything continues to run smoothly.
Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?
The job is a never-ending story. To become a top sommelier you have to be dedicated all the time. He/she needs to be eager to learn in all aspects and work hard. A sommelier should be proud about what he/she knows already, but remain humble. The more you know about wine, the more you realize it is an ongoing process. A sommelier is part of the team in a restaurant. Just having the title is not enough. It is the task of the sommelier to earn respect for what they do.
When and how did you get the passion for wine?
When I finished hotel school I had to make a thesis on a given topic. My topic was “Wine”. There started my wine journey.
Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?
A have tremendous respect for knowledgeable people who stay humble and still share their knowledge with me and my students. Big names: Jancis Robinson MW, Peter Sisseck, Gérard Basset MS, Ian Harris from WSET, José Vouillamoz, but also students who share their experiences.
What is your approach for pairing wines (or other beverages) with dishes?
Keep it simple. People should understand the basic taste interactions between food and wine. Most people prefer their wines to taste fruitier and less acidic, bitter and astringent. If you can apply the principles than you are sure to make your customer happy.
Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?
I visited several regions already, all over the world. And each region has so much to tell. It is important to travel to regions to understand what you can have in the glass. It helps you to put all pieces of the puzzle together: climate, mountains, rivers, slopes, culture, viticulturist, winemaker, etc…. Especially wine region’s working on the edge to make quality wines show the complete puzzle.
For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?
I will never make a sacrifice for a wine, I keep sacrifices for other things in life. I seize the day and that give me already opportunities to taste wonderful wines. As long as I keep enjoying my job I’m sure good bottles of wine will in one way or another cross my path. And I hope to share these with interesting people.
What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school?
At the final exam, I had to open a bottle of red wine placed in a basket. Apparently, the wine was not good and had an unwanted second fermentation in the bottle. While I was opening the bottle, the cork flew out landing at least 5 meters away spoiling the whole table of the guests with wine. Luckily the teachers where so kind to help me out and they secured me it was not my fault. It was a good start of my wine career :-).
A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop,etc…?
Some good bottles of wine, friends, campfire, starry sky, nice music, good talk… enjoy!