Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight: Michel De Muynck
We are very thrilled that we could add the following sommelier to our series of interview, please meet Belgian top sommelier Michel De Muynck .
We are very happy that Michel wanted to participate as he is an example for many Belgian sommeliers. The reason why he is such a well respected person is besides him being very professional and having an enormous knowledge about wine, he is also a very very humble person that has almost never been seen without a big smile on his face :-) FYI that is the way we prefer our sommeliers ... it separates the boys from the men!!
Michel was classically trained at the l’école hôtelière de La Louvière where after he started his career Relais du Roy Louis near Namur. What followed was a bright career working in Belgium's best restaurants like 2 Michelin star awarded restaurant Trèfle à quatre** and Michelin star awarded restaurant l’Essentiel *, ** where he worked for over 13 years and received several recognition's for their wine list. But after the 13 years Michel was open for a new challenge which brought positions as head-sommelier at restaurants like Prieurè*, L'Eau Vive**, BonBon** on his path.
Michel has also has his fair share of finalist positions during the Best Sommelier of Belgium and Laurent Perrier contest and the Copa Jerez in Perpignan. Eventhough he hasn't won so far, he could always walk out with his head up high as for us he will always be a winner and a highly admired sommelier with an incredible personality!!!
Today Michel works and brings his joy and happiness at the 2 Michelin Star awarded restaurant L'air du temps
Please enjoy getting to know Michel a bit better!!
What is your favorite wine region to work with?
The region that is lays closest to my heart is the Loire Valley. I like the Loire because of its diversity of terroir and grape varieties.
What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?
Above all to listen to the client without imposing his own taste and to remain humble. If you already start with that you’re already heading in the right direction
Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?
For a restaurant, the work of a sommelier is a real added value to advice management and sharing knowledge. But I do think their job get underestimated, although we can’t complain in most western countries, but I do think there is still room for improvement. The perception is mostly that the job is only about wine, but is so much more than this. But again, we can’t complain (and we never do ;-))
When and how did you get the passion for wine?
Funny enough it was only after I finished hotel school that I realized the importance of the sommelier in a restaurant room. From that epiphany I began to study and taste in order to understand the wine and eventually all the rest to become a good sommelier. It never left me.
Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?
I must admit that it changed quite a few times over the years, but my current references are Marc Almert who is very humble person, Pascaline Lepeltier who originates from my ‘heart region’ (Loire) and last but definitely not least Antoine Petrus who is a high class friend.
What is your approach for pairing wines (or other beverages) with dishes?
Find the best association with the chef after tasting the dishes with wine, beer or maybe even other beverages......and in order to give a vision on the perfect match.
Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?
There are several that I think of the Loire Valley, Douro /Dao, the Mosel region (France, Germany and Luxemburg), Burgeland, etc… it is very difficult to narrow it down to only one. I love diversity of terroirs, grape varieties, winemakers and the beauty of each region.
For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?
The first ones that pop-up in my head would be a Riesling from Egon Müller, Bourgogne H.Jayer Cros Parantoux or a Vega Sicilia Unico from 1971
What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school or viticulture studies?
I would have say when initiated the Sopexa lessons and next to that the field work with the winemakers from who I learned a lot.
A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop, winery, etc..?
Blindfolded food and wine tasting making everyone being on the same level.