We were very excited to meet with the Head Sommelier of The Lanesborough. The Lanesborough has been one of London's most iconic addresses for the past twenty years known for it's luxurious service and dining. Heinz Beck's Restaurant, Apsleys is renowned for it's quality service, food and of course the wines!
Enrico talked to us about his experience thus far and guided us on how we can work on having an experienced palate!
How did you start?
Wine has always been a part of my life. My family has always been involved in the wine business. My grandfather has some vineyards outside of Rome and he used to deliver to the city. I was always associated with handpicking since I was a child! My passion for wine began when I started working in the catering business. I was lucky to join La Pergola in Rome, a Three-Michelin Starred restaurant by Heinz Beck. As a sommelier my career took a step further as the cellar in La Pergola has one of the most extensive wine lists in the world and I had the pleasure of working under Marco Reitano, a world renowned sommelier, he trained me and taught me how to be a sommelier ‘out of the box’. The best advice he gave me was to try to be not too technical and understand the guest’s point of view. We should let the guest feel comfortable and be confident about their choice of wine with their food. The pleasure of being out for a meal and drink is more important than the theory of wine.
What is your advice to someone who is an amateur?
A course allows you to get in touch with the world of wine. The basic training allows you to get a taste of wine. The more you taste the better. It’s like building a library of wines in your taste library! The way one answers a question about wine is also quiet influential in the training of a guest. For instance someone who has experience Pinot Grigio and has not enjoyed it out of the restaurant,could come in to our restaurant and try a different kind of the same wine and not only enjoy it but also help in spreading this knowledge. This is what gives me immense pleasure.
How did the Lanesborough come in to your life?
When I decided to move from La Pergola and I felt like I had hit a ceiling, I was searching for a new challenge. Heinz Beck then recommended that Apsleys was looking for a new sommelier. I came here for 3 days, saw the hotel, met the people at the restaurant and became familiar with the place. I took up the challenge, I loved it! It’s been now 2 years since I have been at The Lanesborough!
Currently at The Lanesborough we have a stock of 15000 – 18000 bottles of wine. We have an extensive list of cognac and whisky. Antonio Dandrea, the Manager of The Library Bar has extensive knowledge. We all at Apsleys, The Garden Room and The Library Bar get a chance of sharing some knowledge on cigar and wine pairing!
What is your advice to a newcomer to Apsleys?
People come to the restaurant for the food primarily and for the experience. The service makes the guests feel at home! I always try to be cheerful with the guests. I try to give the guests an amazing experience.
What is your advice for pairings with unusual meals? Like spicy food and chocolate?
White Chocolate: Pinot Noir/ Sauterne
Milk Chocolate: Sauterne
Dark Chocolate: With Port
It all depends on the flavor and sweetness of the chocolate. You can easily make a dark chocolate that is sour.
For spicy food I would recommend, Shiraz. It is a great pairing for Indian food. Recently I had a lobster tail with vanilla and coffee flavor paired with a Shiraz Wine at Benares. It was amazing!
What is your favourite dish at Apsleys?
At Apsleys we add a crumble of chocolate in our Pumpkin Soup which I love! At the moment I really like the Millefeuille with hazelnuts and nuts ice-cream and I would highly recommend the Vinsanto Wine paired with it.
How would you sum up your experience thus far in London?
The city is alive and there are a lot of cool places to visit. In restaurants, wine bars and all these kind of businesses, it is the most alive city after New York. Many of the trends are starting from London. One can really get in touch with the news and life of London. You get to live in the moment!
Your all time favourite wine!
I love Krug and Salon Le Mesnil 1997.
To book a table at Apsleys visit The Lanesborough