Hear from our wine-tasting expert Luigi Buonanno, about how he got into the wine business and what you need to look out for when you are looking for the perfect wine.
How long have you been in the wine business?
15 years. I have been working in restaurants since I was 16. When I turned 18, I started working in a Michelin star restaurant where I fell in love with wine so I decided to study to be a sommelier.
It was through this experience, along with my passion for wine and my ambition to progress in the industry, that lead me pursue my career at Berkmann wine cellars, the largest family-run wine importer in the UK. This was a personal career choice for me since I started a family and they offered me a perfect blend of following my passion and a great work/lifestyle balance. I started out as a sales account manager and was promoted as the regional sales manager for London within two years.
How can you tell a quality wine?
It is not that easy. I do a lot of analysis when wine-tasting. When we judge wines we refer to a specific set of criteria. For example, we may consider if the wine comes from certain vintage (the year in which the grapes were harvested). A wine's vintage can greatly affect the taste and quality, primarily because climate can impact vine harvests throughout the growing season. Therefore every yield is different. It is very important to recognise grape yield in relation to climate as it really affects the dynamic of the wine. This is why location is paramount to wine production. Even it’s from the same soil from the same producer, the quality and test can differ from year to year. Soil and demand are also key components when assessing wine quality.
What’s the key difference between Old World Wine and New World Wine?
It is dependent on where it comes from. Old World wine refers to traditional winegrowing regions of Europe including France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Germany where they have been growing wine for centuries. New World wine refers to wine grown in South Africa, the Americas and Australia. This includes emerging markets such as Brazil, India, Czech Republic, Romania, China and even the UK where sparkling wine is the next big thing.
What is your favourite wine?
Barolo – Langhe from Piedmont, Northern Italy and a nice glass of Burgundy.
What wines do you think would go with meats like a traditional beef or tuna steak?
If I was going to match a wine with beef steak, I would choose a full-body wine with good tannic structure. Tuna is quite a meaty fish so I would pair this with a medium-white to full-body wine or a very light red such as Pinot Noir. It really depends on how you cook the dish.
What country in your opinion produces the best wine?
I would choose France it has the most unique wine. We always benchmark against France due to the grape variety.
What do you like about working One Moorgate Place?
We have a really good relationship. What I have noticed is that whenever I go over to One Moorgate Place the staff are always curious, attentive and willing to learn to wine. I have been to many wine tastings and its rare the staff are as interested in wine as the guests!
Is there anything you would recommend for someone going on a wine-tasting experience?
Any wine-tasting can be interesting. It really depends on what you want to get out of it. There are two main testing techniques –vertical wine tasting where the audience tastes wine of different vintages (ages) and horizontal wine tasting where when you taste wines from the same year and made from the same grape variety but from different areas. A good wine-tasting experience will explain and differentiate between the two.