For the next sommelier to put in the spotlight we stay in Germany, please allow me to introduce to you the new president of the German Sommeliers Association Peer F Holm.
Peer’s sommelier career started after graduating at Hölty-Gymnasium Celle, where after he studied a year at the Heidelberg hotellerie school and graduated as certified sommelier. In the 12 years after having finished his studies he worked as purchaser for several companies Importing and distributing refined wines and delicacies all over Europe in Germany. A job that he combined with being wine instructor at the Deutsche Wein- und Sommelierschule . After these wonderful years Peer decided to head a different direction and start focusing on helping other people and educating them.
Today Peer fills his days (except being the president of the German Sommelier Association) working as freelance consultant (Wein und Wissen) giving seminars about wine and wine concepts for wineries and winegrowing regions (mainly from Spain and Portugal) who want to export to Germany. Peer has also done (and keeps doing) his share of judging in national and international sommeliers/winery contests and hope to see him judge in Antwerp in 2019 during the ASI Sommelier World Championship.
Enjoy the read and getting to know mr Holm better
What is your favorite wine region to work with?
Besides the regions in my home country Germany, I really enjoy to work with the wine regions from the Iberian Peninsula. You can find so many great wines from very different Terroirs for more than fair prices. You can even find hidden treasures in classical regions like Jerez or Rioja. Just leave the usual paths …
What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?
You need to be open minded! Open minded towards the various styles of cuisine, of winegrowing and winemaking and especially towards your guests and clients. It can be nice to be in the spotlight, but in the restaurant the Sommelier should be discreet and keeping the needs of the guests as main target in mind. And for sure the needs of the restaurant owner. A good Sommelier should not “cost” any money, the Somm should add value to the business.
Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?
Many people are talking about the decade of the Sommeliers right now, after having had the decade of the Chefs. But the Sommelier can only do a great job, if he is in close contact with the Chef and they exchange their ideas. It’s a question of teamwork.
But if we have a look to the restaurant guides like Michelin or Gault Millau, we could say that the job of the Sommelier is underestimated. These guides mainly concentrate on the work of the Chef and don’t mention the job of the Service and Sommelier in an adequate manner.
When and how did you get the passion for wine?
Already during my regular time in school, I had a job in a local Restaurant and Bistro. For me wine was one of the most fascinating products I could work with in the service. And with each new friend in the sector, new doors open and you can discover the whole world. And this discovery never ends!
Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?
There are fantastic and fascinating people in the wine world. More classic people like Guy Bonnefoit, more competition driven people like the winners of all the last ASI-contests, or young and more modern people who are often not really known internationally. If I would have to name one person, who is my big example, I would talk about Fritz Keller from Weingut and Restaurant Schwarzer Adler in Kaiserstuhl area of Baden. He combines – as his father Franz Keller did – the main sectors of the wine world in one company: production of own wine, import and distribution of wine and own restaurants, from a bistro up to the Michelin-starred “Schwarzer Adler”.
What is your approach for pairing wines (or other beverages) with dishes?
The main question for me always is, if I want to look for harmony or for a kick. An entire menu only with harmony can become very boring. I love combinations which don’t seem to be possible in the first moment, but work out to be a great pleasure.
Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?
I could not think about any wine region, I would not recommend to visit. Where you find good wines, you very often find good food. And to understand wines, it is very helpful to visit the regions, where they come from. Keep on travelling, keep on learning.
For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?
Is the most expensive or most rare wine the best one? Would it be this wine to make a huge sacrifice? I enjoy tasting wines which have aged for a while. This is – for me – a much higher pleasure, than to taste iconic wines but far too young.
What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school?
During my year at the hotel management school in Heidelberg, where I made my degree as Sommelier, we were a class of only 5 people. That was extremely intense. We did not only spend the time in school together but also a big part of the free time. We were travelling together to Vinexpo in Bordeaux and Vinitaly in Verona. Great time, great people, great experiences.
A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop, etc…?
A glass of wine – or two … – with good friends in a nice surrounding, spending a pleasant time. That is what we are talking about: passion!