Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight: Alexandru Dan
Our next sommelier we would like to put in the spotlight comes from a country close to the beautiful Black Sea, please meet the 2007 Best Sommelier of Romania and vice president of the Romanian Sommelier Association Alexandru Dan
Alexandru has had the ‘horeca’ bug in him already since very young age as just like in many other southern countries in Romania food and wine is the most important thing in life (besides family) and everything turns around those two :-)
He started his career at the Bucharest Hilton hotel and the Carol Park Hotel as Alexandru is a very ambitious person he decided to spread his wings and broaden his horizon and set sail to Boca West County Club-Florida. You can actually take the set sail literally as he also worked as sommelier on a Celebrity Cruise Line :-).
Today Alexandru work as assistant Food and Beverage Manager for the Longleat Hotels. A job he combines with judging and competing in International wine/sommelier competitions.
What is your favorite wine region to work with?
I would say that I am a fan of Napa Valley wines, I love the intensity of Bordeaux wines and I will always say YES to a glass of Rioja. I also like to work with wines from my country, the quality of Romanian wines is increasing a lot and it keeps getting better.
What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?
To be a good Sommelier: You have to be open-minded, have good customer care skills, be able to smile, to be empathic, a team player, gentle, educated, creative and upgrade to the market.
The more you study, the more you have to learn. This job, will always be a positive challenge for all the people who love hospitality.
Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?
This a very good question. It probably depends of the area/country. In United States of America or on Cruise Lines the job is very appreciated and valued as it should. The same in the UK. In some of the countries were the industry is not very well developed yet, the job of sommelier is often seen as an ‘’exotic job’’.
When and how did you get the passion for wine?
I am pretty sure I was born with this passion. Being Romanian, wine is part of our culture.
Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?
I will start with Mr. Gerard Basset, a real legend in what the Sommelier is and should be. When you think about how many performances Mr. Basset has done, many don’t achieve this in a lifetime… I also appreciate Paolo Basso a lot. It is hard to always be on the top especially if you want to stay there. Sören Polonius is another Sommelier that I enjoyed seeing in action, it was also very nice seeing him last month in Belgrade. He has incredible trainer skills.
What is your approach for pairing wines(or other beverages) with
Depending on occasion and the guest’s own taste is also very important for me. I also take my chef’s cooking style into account to make the perfect wine selection, etc. I like making evenings memorable for all those who attend the ‘events’ meals where I’m in charge of the wines or where they basically have my Signature :-) .
Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?
I will recommend everybody to do a Wine Cruise in autumn in Bordeaux, Rioja an Douro Valley. After this wine tour, their life will be changed into a Wine Way. :-) :-)
For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?
From my point of view, you have to drink wines to enjoy them and surrounded by friends. There is no need to make sacrifices…
What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school or
The most wonderful memory was in 2006, when I was selected to participate the nationals contest: Best Romanian Maitre d’Hotel & Best Romanian Sommelier. Thanks to being selected for theses competitions I became the young Sommelier/Maitre I am today, as it made me push myself and improve very fast.
A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides
have a meal at your restaurant, shop, winery, etc..?
In our days, we had a lot of excellent restaurants. The most important is to be open minded and ready to try new things and have new experiences