Our next sommelier to put in the spotlight is again on of our very own Belgian top sommeliers who won the title of Best sommelier of Belgium in 1989 and has been a person many look up to ever since! Please meet Gérard Garroy or Gégé for the friends :-)
I only met Gérard a few years ago during a lunch at restaurant Pilori à Ecaussinnes. I might have only been a few years ago but it is a day I will never forget!! I was fortunate enough to sit at the same table as Gérard and Michel de Muynck… I think I’ve never laughed as much :-) and we obviously also tasted some wonderful wines!!
Our friend Gérard is a classical trained sommelier who graduated at the ITCF d'Hôtellerie de Spa and specialized himself a year at the Ecole d'Hôtellerie et de Tourisme de Liège. Like many young people at that time Gérard had to go to military service or in his case at the Navy working directly for the commandant of the A961 Zinnia. After the year of military service we can only say Gégé had a wonderful career with many highlights oa. winning the title of Best Sommelier of Belgium and working in many wonderful places.
Today Gérard is already for many years (+25years) a fix value at the renowned wine shop Bernard Poulet where they have a wonderful selection of French wines.
Please feast your eyes on Gégé’s answers
What is your favorite wine region to work with?
My favorite wine region is the Loire. For more than thirty years, I have been trying to defend this beautiful region full of diversity.
I like the mentality of the winegrowers of this region. We are always welcome and we feels always happy to visit friends from the Loire Valley.
What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?
Humility and listening are the main characteristics. Stay curious and open to new products, to all countries, all regions.
Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?
Few restaurants can still afford a sommelier. He is often also the butler. Fortunately, things are changing and especially young women are coming in numbers in the trade. It was time !
When and how did you get the passion for wine?
This passion for wine started at very young age, thanks to my grandparents. Great epicureans, they have given me the happiness of working with fine products, respecting and defending small producers. Before I even started the hotel school, my grandmother taught me the kitchen and all the art of entertaining and setting up beautiful tables. My grandfather took me to his beautiful wine cellar, he took time to explain how and why to choose such and such a wine ...!
I was 8 years old and since then my passion has not stopped growing. I often think of my grandparents and thank them for all this love and passion.
Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?
Without hesitation, it is my mentor, Antoine Petrus at Clarence in Paris who for me is the typical example of a very competent sommelier.
What is your approach for pairing wines(or other beverages) with dishes?
It is a delicate mission. And you must know and taste the cuisine of your chef to be able to make a judicious marriage. Whether it is with wine, beers or even teas.
If you cook yourself it is an asset.
Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?
The Loire Valley of course. The warm welcome, the beautiful scenery, the castles. The huge variety of wines on offer. The exceptional light of the banks of the Loire.
For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?
The wines of Bourguignon Henri Jayer. Once in my life, I had the opportunity to taste an Echezeaux of this winemaker, and my memory is still full of emotions.
What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school?
The passion of my professors to teach the essential bases of a very beautiful profession. A profession that can only be practiced with much patience, humility and sharing.
A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop, winery, etc..?
Eating in a restaurant, or having a drink at a wine shop, the main quality should be passion. Too often, wine is only used to make turnover, and still too few establishments are really interested in wine and vintner. Fortunately, Belgium has more beautiful wine lists than in other countries.