Our next sommelier to put in the spotlight comes from our neighboring country. Please meet Torsten Junker who represented Germany during the 2017 ASI European Sommelier Championship in Vienna.
Torsten took his first steps in the HoReCa business at the Landhotel „Tal – Café“ in Erkensruhr where I guess he also get bitten by the HoReCa bug :-) as from that moment he walked a nice path!! His career brought him to different restaurants/hotels across Germany, with exception of working on a MS Vessel in 2009 and as Chef de Service at the Wellness- & Spa Hotel Beatus in Merligen Switzerland. But missing his home country Torsten decided to return to Germany and start working at the Michelin star awarded Süllberg in Hamburg as teamleader and sommelier. I guess Hamburg left a good impression on him (or he found love in this town ;-) ) as today after a few years he is still working in Hamburg as head sommelier for the 2 Michelin star awarded Jacobs Restaurant.
Also on competitive level Torsten has walked a nice path. Next to being a WSET advanced sommelier (Level 3), certified sommelier (Court of Master Sommeliers) in 2014 he won ‘Bester Junger Sommelier Deutschlands’ tournament Hosted by Chaine de Rôtisseurs to eventually win the title of Best Sommelier of Germany in 2015… so basically ready to defend Germany in International competitions
Feest your eyes on what he has to say :-)
What is your favorite wine region to work with?
I think, there is no specific wine region for me as a sommelier to work with. Jura seems to be the new 'Hotspot' for sommeliers. But there are so many wine regions we have to focus on – not just that one :-).
What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?
Understanding your customer! The most important thing is to have wines on your list, which guests are asking for. And we should show our guests what quality wine really is. There are so many sommeliers who try to sell organic or orange wines that are hard to drink and of course hard to sell. And it is mostly what guests are not asking for.
Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?
Yes. I think, that most of the restaurant owners still do not realize that hiring a good sommelier can bring a financial benefit!
When and how did you get the passion for wine?
I started working as a waiter in my first fine dining restaurant. In that position, I also had to support our sommelier. She recognized that I was really interested in wine. She decided to do tastings with me and taught me about it. That was the point when I got the passion about wine.
Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?
Frank Kämmer and Hendrik Thoma. Those are maybe the best sommeliers that I met so far. I am always impressed about their knowledge and their tasting skills. But I was also really much impressed about the performance of Raimonds Tomsons during the A.S.I. Best Sommelier of Europe in Vienna this year.
What is your approach for pairing wines (or other beverages) with dishes?
Keep it simple. Regional food and regional wine is always the best idea in pairing food and wine.
Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?
Washington State was really impressing to me. It is kind of a dessert area. My first thoughts when I saw this region for the first time: How can they make wine in here? But it works very well.
For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?
Matured styles of DRC wines – no matter what vineyard site it is.
What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school?
I didn't do hotel management school... but I'm sure if I would have done it I would have had lots of great memories ;-)
A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop, etc…?
I had so many beautiful experiences with food and wine – I really don´t want to pick up one. And the best experience is maybe yet to come – who knows?!