Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight: Vuk Vuletic
Today we take you to Serbia to introduce to you 2 time Best Sommelier of Serbia, 2018 Best Sommelier of Balkan and semi-finalist of the 2019 Best Sommelier of the World contest (top 20) Vuk Vuletic!! Not too shabby :-)
After his studies of hotel management at the at the University of Novi Sad Vuk set the first step in his career as sommelier at the steak and winebar at Belgrade. It might have only been the first step, but it was definitely an important one as Vuk was part of the team who opened up the restaurant. As it was the restaurant opening, Vuk was able to do the setup of the wine list and wine cellar with over 150 references, mostly red as it was a steak restaurant. So you could say he was able to develop his knowledge from the start of his career. The next step was towards restaurant 'square' at the nine square luxury hotel in Belgrade where his knowledge only expanded and got refined. During this time he also obtained his sommelier degree at the ASI.
Today Vuk works as head sommelier and manager at Podrum Novi Wine art where besides serving wine at the wine bar and restaurant, they also form the new generation of sommeliers and they have a Bordeaux wine import program not to forget that they're the proud ambassador of Lehmann glassware for Serbia.
And let's defintely not forget his accomplishments in the competitive sommelier world as mentioned above!!
Enjoy getting to know this top sommelier a bit better!
What is your favorite wine region to work with?
My favorite region to work with is Bordeaux, because it's the only region from where I can buy as many old vintages as I like, and it gives me opportunity to explore through various styles and expressions of wines. Cabernet dominated, Merlot dominated, dry whites, sweet whites, powerful Pauillac, elegant Margaux, different phases of evolution, it's so interesting and wide region that gives you a lot of potential to work with.
What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?
It takes a lot of time, devotion, emotion, will to improve, training, support from your family and friends. I think on the first place comes emotion and love for the job, if you have that and love to be on the floor serving guests and creating their special moments, you're on the right path to become a good sommelier. Then, you need to invest a lot of your resources (time & money) and be patient and slowly build your career.
Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?
I must say it's valued, but I think that the future looks bright for our profession. The Wine World is getting bigger every day with more regions and grapes to play with. It will become a big challenge for (serious) restaurants to keep up to date and/or even to be able to keep sharing the stories/information about it all with their guests without a sommelier on their payroll. ‘Storytelling’ and guest experience is getting more important nowadays and we're perfectly equipped for this task.
When and how did you get the passion for wine?
I wanted to know more about wine since I was a teenager, unfortunately I had to wait until I was 23 to complete sommelier course and to dig deeper into world of wine. The restaurant industry got my attention when I was 19 years old. Once, working as assistant in the kitchen I saw a waiter decanting the wine for the guests and explaining them about how aeration is important. I was impressed with what I saw and I eagerly waited for my chance to learn more about wine and sommelier profession.
Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?
From critics, I enjoy reading Antonio Galloni and I enjoy reading his tasting notes that are very helpful for me when discovering new wines.
From sommelier colleagues, I enjoy watching Raimonds Tomsons on stage, his moves are so elegant, yet he is so calm when on stage, great sommelier.
What is your approach for pairing wines (or other beverages) with dishes?
I believe that the best possible way is to try a couple of possible pairings with a dish, than choose the best match and try to understand why it creates a good marriage on your palate. I always like to play and try to find odd combinations, because you don't need a sommelier to tell you that your lamb is going to be wonderful with Malbec. Food&beverage pairing is so complex and our job is to create different sensations and memories for our guests.
Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?
With so many wine regions, it's difficult to recommend just one. My recommendation for colleague sommeliers would be to visit Serbia, as we have a lot to show, many vineyards and interesting wineries, outstanding local cuisine and warm hospitality is guaranteed.
For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?
I would sacrifice a lot to be able to taste Krug Clos du Mesnil 1990. I love champagne and I prefer Blanc de Blancs to Blanc de Noirs.
What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school or viticulture studies?
During my university I studied to become chef, and I practiced my gained knowledge at various restaurant/hotels where I made many friends and unforgettable moments of joy. Memories that I will cherish for always
A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop, winery, etc..?
Tasting wine with a winemaker in his cellar. It gives you the best perspective and makes you understand the philosophy and path the winery follows. I believe sommeliers have so much to learn from winemakers in understanding the wine.