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Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight: Maximilian Wilm

Please meet Maximilian Wilm, the sommelier who won the 2019 Best Sommelier of Germany contest under supervising eye of of his fellow German colleague,the Best Sommelier of the World , Marc Almert.

Deutsche Wein- und SommelierschuleCrown Plaza at HeidelbergMaximilian did already participate 2 years earlier at the 2017 Best Sommelier of Germany contest, but that time he became 2nd, which is definitely not a place to be ashamed of :-) . After his studies at the Hotellerie School Maximilian specialised himself at the , that’s called determination!! and widened his knowledge about the wonderful world of wine and sommeliers. Studies he combined with an F&B office coordinator at the

But it wasn’t until 2011 when he finished his studies at the Deutsche Wein- und Sommelierschule that he started playing with the big boys, qt that time he started working for the legendary Palais Coburg in Vienna. A job that would eventually lead to the next step up the ladder, as in 2013 he started working as restaurant manager and sommelier for the 2 Michelin awarded restaurant Seven Seas.

Today Maximilian works as restaurant manager and sommelier for the Kinfelts Kitchen & Wine restaurant. We are sure there is still a bright future for Maximilian

What is your favorite wine region to work with?

My favorite wine region to work with is hard to define. I’m a big fan of South African Wines like from the Swartland or the Walker Bay. My favorite producers are Mullineux, Sadie, David & Nadja and Sebastian Beaumont. But I’m also a big fan of our German wines, especially Riesling.

In the food and wine pairing I also like to work with a lot of Spanish and Portuguese wines.

I love wines, when they have a story to tell where ever they come from.

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

A good sommelier should be not just a bottle opener, a good sommelier should be a storyteller. But the most important thing is that a good sommelier should always put his focus on making his customers happy and satisfied. This is much more important than selling big names or expensive bottles.

It is always a challenge to find amazing wines with a good price value.

But today a sommelier also has to be a good business man. Making revenue and managing a running wine system should be also an important skill of a sommelier. Not only spending money, you also have to earn money for the company.

A good sommelier should be also a good trainer for his staff. But not a teacher for the guests.

Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?

It’s getting better and better. But we are still not at the point where for example the chefs are. The chefs are selling books, doing television shows -, etc… but the sommelier is often still just a waiter.

Also, a lot of hotels or restaurants don’t use the opportunity of hiring a sommelier. A good sommelier is very important for the revenue of a restaurant. A sommelier can increase the beverage selling to another level. There are still a lot of restaurants and hotels thinking we have a F&B Manager and a Restaurant manager that is more than enough to run a profitable beverage program, but a good sommelier is the key for the success.

When and how did you get the passion for wine?

I grew up in a wine region, Franconia, Germany. My Grandfather was a big wine lover and I visited a lot of winemakers with him as a child. But during my work as a waiter in the InterContinental Berchtesgaden I got infused by the wine bug.

My F&B Manager there Marco Krentzin brought me into the wine world and helped me in the first 2-3 years.

The best experience was to work at the Palais Coburg in Vienna with one of the biggest cellars of Europe. It was an amazing opportunity to taste and sell a lot of good and old wine.

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

For competition it is my friend: Marc Almert (Best Sommelier of the World 2019) I really admire him for his discipline and his passion for the work as a sommelier.

Maximilian, Petra Mayer, Marc Almert

Another big example in the wine world is Hendrik Thoma MS. He founded his own trading company and still share a lot of his passion with us younger sommeliers.

Hendrik Thoma

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

I like to pair food and wine often with Opposites. Sweet and Spicy Creamy and acidity Richness with freshness Saltiness with Fruitiness Just to name a view thing. But this is not the key to everything. You always have the focus one what does the dish needs.

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

I would recommend to visit the Mosel Valley to see the steep vineyards to understand how hard work happens in the vineyard. It is really impressive when you stand on the top of the Piesporter Goldtröpchen and look down this steep vineyard.

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

When I worked at the Palais Coburg in Vienna I had the opportunity to taste a lot of great and outstanding wines. I don’t have a bucket list or something like that. But I’m a big fan of Portwine and I really would love to try a 1963 Quinta do Noval Nacional.

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

A few years ago I visited Filipa Pato at de Bairrada area in Portugal and we walked through her vineyards and she showed me a 130 year old Baga vineyard organic-dynamic farmed and it looked so beautiful and healthy. On the other side was a normal farmed vineyard from another winemaker, which looked really bad and sick. This was the moment I felt totally in love with organic-dynamic wine making.

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

A visit at the Schwarzer Keller Restaurant of Fritz Keller in Baden/Germany. Traditional French food with an amazing totally fair calculated wine list with great burgundy and Bordeaux selection.

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