Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight: Giannis Papachristoforou
The 2019 Best Sommelier of the World contest held in Antwerp was an enormous success because of so many reasons. One of the reasons was for sure thanks to the many helping hands from accross the globe!! As without them it wouldn't have been possible. The sommelier you'll meet now was one of those helping hands who traveled to Antwerp and worked real hard every day to help us make the 50th anniversary an enormous success, please meet Giannis Papachristoforou
Giannis' story is actually quit unique, as 5 years ago he was still working in construction :-) He also didn't do any hotel school studies, but he did studies to become a mechanical and automotive engineer ... So talking about changing careers. What this shows , is that with the good amount of passion and willingness you can achieve everything.
It was when Giannis started working at the Elysium luxury resort and got surrounded by the correct people (read Yiannis Stefanides ) that his interest for the profession of sommelier started growing.
5 years later he is still working for the resort, but now he is the sommelier of their O'shin restaurant. On top of that he managed to obtain a WSET level 2 diploma and the 1st level diploma of the Court of Master Sommeliers , so we cannot say he's lacking enthusiasm. He tries to travel as much as possible to explore vineyards across the globe and to learn from the best.
Please enjoy getting to know this wonderful person a bit more
What is your favorite wine region to work with?
Well, I think the region that would meet that expectation most would be Chablis, I love the differences between the Cru’s, all of the Premier Crus, and of course the Grand Cru’s landscapes. Maybe it is the fact that it are ancient soils that drives me to work with this region, or perhaps something else beyond that… nevertheless they are always on top of my list to work with.
What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?
In my opinion a good sommelier, beyond knowledge and very good tasting notes, should have passion and tons of energy to spare for the job… the job never stops and you’ll have to work very long days. So if you are more the 9h00 to 17h00 person it is definitely nothing for you
But if you have the two mentioned above you’re on a good way to become a good sommelier.
Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?
Nowadays, I believe the job of sommelier is a bit underestimated. The wine market has widened so much over the years and it keeps growing, making it difficult to keep up and a sommelier is the person who could help you to see the trees through the forest. Unfortunately many people in the hospitality only see having a separate person who deals with the wine/beverages at their business as an enormous cost. Although what they should understand is that a sommelier would be able to increase the revenue… Luckily it is heading in the right direction and the job is getting more value across the globe, which is a good thing of course.
When and how did you get the passion for wine?
The story goes a few years back, when I entered the hospitality field and started (like everybody does), at the bottom of the chain.
A colleague who later became a very good friend must probably have seen some potential in me and pushed me to start reading books about wine regions across the globe, following courses, etc… so you could say the colleague was the key to start-up the wine worm inside me.
Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?
I really admire the man who gave me the kick to start studying and helped me move deeper through the sommelier community. On top of it all he became a very good friend, Mister Yiannis Stephanides who is always next to me, helping and guiding…
What is your approach for pairing wines (or other beverages) with dishes?
In the restaurant where I work we serve Asian Fusion dishes, so that means the variety of choices we can pair well, is more or less limited… Therefore I prefer choosing the ‘by glass’ option most of the time because this way our guests can enjoy their dining experience more and satisfy their needs..
I’m of the opinion that a good pairing will stay forever in people’s minds or at least that is what we seek, consistency in our restaurant.
Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?
Cyprus would be a fantastic option as we have a lot offer, but this answer would be too obviousJ. Of course Chablis would also be a very good option here, for the same reason I mentioned earlier, plus combine that with their traditional dishes like “Les Andouillettes de Chablis”, which is very tasty but spicy recipe based on sausage from pork intestines and is usually pan fried. And since you are in Chablis what else to pair it with…
For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?
There are so many labels coming to mind at the moment, but if I have to choose only 1, it should be from Chablis, a William Fevre, Bougros “Cote Bouguerots” 2002. This specific label, is full mineral, racy, and profound. A really really unique wine as a matter of fact.
What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school or viticulture studies?
Every seminar or course I did so far were an amazing experience because they were all about the team, having a group of people sharing knowledge and ideas about their passion is an outstanding moment.
A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop, winery, etc..?
Anything that has to do with food and wine, perhaps a trip to a region, try the local traditional dishes or even visit wineries and try the wine from very first hand...