Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight: Andreas Kyprianou
Please meet Andreas Kyprianou, the 2018 Best Sommelier of Cyprus! What astonished me when doing some research on Andreas, was that he has actually degree in Investment and Finance that obtained at in New York…. And yet somehow he rolled into the world of wines/sommeliers. What a change of path!
After his studies in Investment and Finance Andreas started working as sales manager for a wine importing company. As you might already expect, this company didn’t only give him experience in the business world, the fact that 15 years later he is still doing in wine I guess they passed on their passion to him as well. After a few years set sail for the next step in his career and become an ambassador for Greek Wines and promoting them in the USA.
When he returned ‘home’ (aka Cyprus) he started his own wine-import business called Vino Cultura. I say wines import business, but vino cultura is much more, it is a wine bar where you can enjoy great food/wine pairings. Next to this Andreas also opened (together with his cousin Costas Constantinou) a restaurant Rous that serves refines food inspired by the many cultures that have left their mark within the culinary habits of the Cypriot people. Andreas also obtained his advanced degree at the Court of Master sommeliers.
Today Andreas also finds some time (next to owning and managing Vino Cultura and Rous) to write for several Cypriot magazines, give seminars, do wine consulting, compete in International sommelier contest, etc… basically being a very very busy bee :-)
What is your favorite wine region to work with?
I would have to say Greece overall. It offers such diversity and such a great value that can fill out any wine list. There has never been a better time for Greek wines.
What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?
First of all you need many years of experience on the floor before you can be a great sommelier. You need to understand the needs and the priorities of your guest(s). If you have worked your way up from all positions in the front of house then you realize that the wine is just one (integral but still only one) of the factors that complete the guests experience when they go out.
Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?
I think this is changing in the recent years. Nowadays the modern sommelier has evolved, and learned how to become more and more invaluable for their restaurant and offer their services past the wine recommendation role. They are (or at least they should be) more involved in the actual running and planning of the restaurant but perhaps the more important change is that guests are not afraid of the sommelier any more.
When and how did you get the passion for wine?
Well that was an ongoing process and love affair that grew over time. I first got involved in the wine business right after my college studies in New York when I was working for a wine importing company that was importing Greek wines in the US. Back in 2003 it was an interesting time for Greek wine in the US because of all the exposure Greece got from the Olympics and also because it was the first time that the new wave of Greek wines was reaching past the expats. For me I believe it was the cultural aspect that fascinated me the most at the time. How a single event could have so many ripple effects on a society thousands of miles away.
Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?
One of the greatest wine personalities I’ve ever met is Dr. Rowald Hepp from Schloss Vollrads in the Rheingau. He is such a humble and brilliant man who has offered so much to the wine community (and the Riesling fans especially) and has inspired many people throughout his career!
What is your approach for pairing wines (or other beverages) with dishes?
First of all I always weigh in the occasion and then the mood of the guests. If they are looking something within a specific budget or how adventurous they want to get!
Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?
Valtellina in Lombardy (or any other region with extremely difficult land to farm)! When you visit places like this you get a profound appreciation for people working those vineyards and you start to see the wine world from a different perspective!
For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?
1929 Jean-Louis Chave White Hermitage!
What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school or viticulture studies?
Didn’t attend any hotel management school or viticulture school. I am from a business background with studies of investment and finance and operational research.
A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop, winery, etc..?
Visit Barolo around truffle season and eat at any of the small restaurants in La Morra or Serralunga fresh truffle risotto and Barolo!