waiter serving red wine for female customer at restaurant

"The magic moment when the Sommelier becomes a storyteller"

That is precisely the moment when a customer arrives at a Michelin Star Restaurant to have the perfect meal with the perfect pairing (like an artisanal wine.) The sommelier plays a significant role in making artisanal wines understandable and desirable.

Last week Vinitaly (the most famous wine festival in Italy,) hosted an exciting webinar about "Artisan wine in the Restaurant Industry."

The event was organized by Vi-Te, "Vignaioli e Territori Association,” a group that has been working for many years in developing and promoting the culture and relationship between territory, wine, and winemakers.

The event was much more of a casual chat. Distinguished personalities from the Italian wine industry, such as Gilda Musetti, Il Torchio's winemaker, Gabrielle da Prato, Podere Concori’s winemaker, and the young talented Matteo Circella were the leaders of the conversation.

The main guest was Matteo Circella, an AIS professional sommelier who became "Slow Wine Manager for Liguria" in 2018, and the winner of the Michelin Guide Special Award as the Best Sommelier in Italy 2021. Today, he manages the cellar of the Bib Gourmand Michelin Guide La Brinca.

During the webinar, he shared his journey, interests, how he started his career, and his discovery behind artisanal wine.

When it comes to artisanal wines, it’s hard to define it as a category because there is no official definition. However, some key elements can help us to distinguish them:

  • Use of indigenous grapes
  • Promotion of local production
  • Without the use of an automated winemaking system
  • Handcrafted management techniques
  • Implementation of lower levels of sulfites
  • Avoid chemical fertilizers and more sustainable agriculture
  • Low yields

Listening to the journey of this young and talented Italian Sommelier in this niche market, that he defines as personal work, was a unique experience. This webinar was a perfect opportunity to learn more about artisanal wine and its development in the restaurant industry.

Made with decidedly more care and attention, artisanal wines are the greatest elixirs. Behind every bottle, there’s a magical story, making these wines "more human and more sensitive."

In the world of artisanal wine, it's important to understand the winemakers’ stories because they craft wines in a way that emphasizes the uniqueness of their grapes and the strategic location of the vineyard. This is what gives a distinctive identity to these types of wines.

Matteo Circella described the role of a Sommelier as a communicator. Apart from giving suggestions, he tries to create a link between the winemaker, the wine, and the territory. According to him, it’s crucial to tap into the emotions of the wine consumer through storytelling and listening. And that is where the magic happens, to discern what they want from him in order to create the perfect pairing and harmony throughout the meal.

Wine is an intrinsic part of the Italian culture, so it was no surprise that he became a Sommelier. However, the challenge began when he realized that the essential part of his career is to have credibility and the necessity to present wine effectively.

"We have to be clear and very careful," he said. Every bottle of wine has an interesting story to tell that offers insight into its unique flavor. Share these stories, and knowledge to consumers.

When asked by Gabrielle da Prato: "What are the technical differences between artisanal and non-artisanal wines? "He wittingly answered, " digestion of good wine allows you to drink more and makes you feel good."

It was great to see how Matteo Circella expressed his love for his land and called it "La mia Liguria" (My Liguria). He's passionate about his work, he has so much admiration and respect for agriculturists who work tirelessly.

To conclude, Circella gave us a glimpse of the role of a "Modern Sommelier." Travel to meet more producers, never stop learning, and go to wine events, and festivals. Taste everything, be curious, and explore, fall in love with the wine.

There is always more to learn when it comes to wine: From savoring a glass to learning more about varietals, different terroirs, and distinct flavors.

Source: Vinitaly,Webinar by “Associazione Vi. Te- Vignaoli e Territori: Il vino Artigianale nella Restaurazione”. 29 June 2022. https://liveshop.vinitaly.com/eventi/il-vino-artigianale-nella-ristorazione/

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