Time for some girl power, please meet the2017 Best Ukrainian sommelier Anna Pototska.
When someone works as sommelier (or any other position in a restaurant/hotel) you would think they followed their formation at a hotel (management) school and getting classically trained. However what we have learned doing over 125 interviews, is that many of the top sommeliers don't have this classical background and found their love for the profession and its environment during summer jobs, weekend work,etc... Anna is yet another wonderful example of a person who has found her passion during her University studies in Economics, as at that time she used to work as bartender in combination with her studies. What this basically tells us, is that with passion and ambition you can achieve everything you want!!
After her studies Anna exchanged her books in Financing for books about wine to feed her hunger for knowledge. Although initially she still tried to temper the hunger as she could only study after business hours when she was working for an insurance company. But the heart wants what the heart wants and after a few years she decided to follow her heart and start working in the world of HoReCa. To eventually start working as head sommelier at the Fairmont Grand Hotel in Kiev, the Wine Not food&wine bar and at Bistro Baker.
The fact she has passion and was used to study was noticeable as in no time she managed to obtain the 2 Level WSET degree, to obtain the master level degree at the sommelier school in Kyiv and obtain a degree at the Bartender School as “Professional Service Bar”. Not forgetting to metion her victory during the Best Ukrainian sommelier in 2017 and she also managed to get a very satisfying place during the 2019 ASI Best Sommelier of the World contest in Antwerp!! and like our friend Frank Sinatra said: "the best is yet to come". We're sure that we haven't heard the last of Anna!.
After working a few years in her home country, Anna decided earlier this year to spread her wings and move to paradise also known as Seychelles to work at the fine dining restaurant Cyann at the luxury Constance Ephelia resort.
We wish her luck with the rest of her carreer!! Enjoy the read.
What is your favorite wine region to work with?
I prefer wines from the ‘Old World’ with some of my favorites like Burgundy, Loire and Rhône Valley in France and in Spain I would go for Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Priorat.
What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?
A good sommelier always needs be in search of new interesting wines, wine regions, wine trends, food & wine paring. He needs to be highly educated, be open for new knowledge, he needs to be sociable, know how to sell and the most important thing - be passionate about his work.
Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?
To my opinion, it depends on the country, company or restaurant. Everyone understands how it is important to have a good sommelier in a restaurant because he can bring no less than 30% of profit. At the same time the salary of a sommelier sometimes can't be so high. But in general our profession is more paid then other staff.
When and how did you get the passion for wine?
I have always been interested in beverages and spirits. Before I started to be a sommelier I was working as a bartender. But the first significant wine experience for me was my first wine tasting with Jerez producer Lustau in 2015.
Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?
The biggest example for me in the sommelier world is Gerard Basset. He just is the greatest person in the sommelier world, a legend even. In 1989 he became a Master Sommelier, in 1998 - Master of Wine, in 1992 he won Best International Sommelier, in 1996 - Best Sommelier of Europe, and after his sixth attempt in 2010 he won the World's Best Sommelier Competition. It’s a pity that he passed away.
What is your approach for pairing wines (or other beverages) with dishes?
My approach of pairing food & beverages is very easy, to taste a lot, be creative and don’t be afraid to find new interesting tastes.
Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?
In 2017 I visited the most beautiful wine region in France- Rhône Valley. Hermitage it’s on the top of the hill where in 1226 knight Henry Gaspard settled. There, you have an incredible view of the Rhone River, Tain-l'Hermitage town and on the other bank - Saint - Joseph appellation. The old vines of Syrah grapes are grown there on the granite and gravel soils. They produce (for me) the best wines… So that's why I recommend to visit it 😜
For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?
As I mentioned before I’m in love with French wine. I can make a big sacrifice to taste Romanée Conti, which is the rarest and the most expensive wine in the world. So I’m also a big fan of Pinot Noir 🍷🍾
What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school or viticulture studies?
We can always learn more about wines, country and regions when we have a talk with the wine producers. They know all details about soil, grapes, and wine techniques. That’s why my best memories of wine education and wine experience are from during Masterclasses of Chateau de Beaucastel and Miguel Torres at the ‘Best sommelier of the World’ competition in 2019. We tasted and compared 8 vintages of Chateau de Beaucastel Hommage à Jaques Perrin that is only produced in good years. With Miguel Torres we discussed ancestral catalan, grape varieties and tasted Grans Muralles wine that is made from indigenous grapes Querol, Garro and Samso. It was really unforgettable.
A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop, winery, etc..?
Now I'm working at the Constance Ephelia resort in Seychelles at their fine dining restaurant Cyann. We have more than 1200 labels of wine from all over the world. We also propose to our guests new wine experiences- a different style of wine tastings:
* New world wine tasting (1 glass of white, red and sweet wine)
* Greatest wine in the World (1 glass of French white, red and sweet wine)
* Blind tasting (2 glass of white and 2 glass of red)
All tasting we provide with different kind of cheese and trying to find best matches.
So we can also educate our guests in wine culture and gastronomy. This is very important part of sommelier work.