Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight: Tazo Tamazashvili

Please meet sommelier Tazo Tamazashvili from the land where winemaking started, Georgia. Coming from the place where wine was born, you can imagine that wine has been in Tazo’s life forever. His passion for wine already goes back to when he was 6 (!!) years old.

After obtaining his bachelor in International Tourism Management at the Tbilisi State University Tazo started working for one of the front-runners in hospitality industry in Georgia namely the Mgroup, initially as a ‘regular’ waiter, but later as a sommelier. Despite Tazo’s young age his passion kept growing resulting in him studying at the Tbilisi wine school and certifying himself at the WSET level 2. Not forgetting to mention that became Best Sommelier of Georgia in 2018. In 2019 he competed during the Best Sommelier of the world contest in Antwerp with a very satisfying result .

Today Tazo works for one of the most refined restaurant in Georgia, restaurant Qalaqi a favorite spot for Georgians and non-Georgians. I'm sure there lays a bright future in front of him .

Enjoy the read!

What is your favorite wine region to work with?

Honestly, it’s a hard question, but Alsace and Marlborough are my favorite wine regions because of potential and deep interests of these regions.

What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?

To be a good sommelier you have to be a wine ambassador with knowledge, a good speaker and kind host for his guests. Trusted person for winemakers and good friend for colleagues. He should understand gastronomy, each wine and beverage as you know yourself. Hospitalet Skills are coming from experience, so a good sommelier never stops learning about everything about wines, spirits, etc… and everything that has to do with those topics.

Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?

Many guests and customers respect and like our profession and services, so I think it’s popular and necessary to be valued correctly.

When and how did you get the passion for wine?

I was about 6 years old (I know it is a very young age) when I began to be interested in wine. My grandfather and I have a little vineyard in our village where we have different Georgian endemic grape varieties and every harvest was big festival in our family. When I was 10, I already knew all the rules of traditional winemaking :-)

Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?

I guess it should be the person who gave me the first big wine experience and knowledge about the sommelier profession, and thaught me how to experience the passion of wine. This person was Shalva Khetsuriani. I am always fascinated how he talks about wine culture, terroirs and winemaking. Next to that there are obviously the International sommeliers like Paolo Basso or Arvid Rosengren.

What is your approach for pairing wines (or other beverages) with dishes?

For me it’s an art to make food and wine pairings. Always think about how you can improve the match between them. Sometimes I don’t do it according to the “rules”. When you understand gastronomy and wine than you can make big improvisations.

Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?

In my country (Georgia) we have a wine region I would recommend to everyone, Lechkhumi, which is the mountain part of Georgia. I call it heaven on earth with its beautiful nature and climate. I was impressed with Languedoc-Roussillon and recommend to travel to this region. Like they say: L’art de vivre, les vins du sud.

For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?

I have big list of such ‘dreams’, but the oldest bottle of Champagne will be enough for one life :-)

What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school or viticulture studies?

Every day in Tbilisi Wine School was fantastic full of new discoveries. I remember my first blind tasting when I guessed which wines we tried, I was unbelievably happy.

A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop, winery, etc..?

In my Restaurant you can try a traditional Georgian dish ‘Kharcho’ with walnut sauce and paired with Qvevri white wines from the Kakhetian region. Both have spicy characteristics, and the balance between them gives you a third unbelievable taste

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