Interview With A Sommelier – Alexandru Dan

3rd April 2024

Interview With Sommelier Alexandru Dan

The World of Wine is beautifully showcased by an army of talented Sommeliers, who help the consumer discover their next favourite bottle, understand the different regions and pair a delicious meal with the right Glass of Bubbly.

In this feature, I speak with a man from, England, who has helped many people to discover the vast world of Wines and Sparkling Wines, his name is Alexandru Dan, let’s find out about his life as a Sommelier.

Tell Us About Yourself & What Inspired You To Become a Sommelier?

“I discovered my passion for wines in 2004, during my first job in hospitality, as a Waiter, at the Athenee Palace-Ex Hilton, actually part of IHG Intercontinental, in Bucharest. There was a monthly event about Wines and other Beverages. In one of the events, we had an exclusive launch of one Winery and for the 1st time, I saw and heard a very professional speech and description made by Mr. Dan Muntean. I was fascinated and my goal was to become a Professional Sommelier. I met my first mentor in 2006, his name was Doru Dumitrescu, a great Sommelier who helped the Romanian Wine Industry to develop. Two other Romanian Professional #somms that inspired me are Mr. Voica Florin and Mr. Laurentiu Achim. When you’re young, you are looking for a professional model that inspires you, and the 3 gentlemen mentioned, inspired all my generation in Romania.

However, the guidelines, the direction & the hospitality orientation, I was lucky and truly privileged, to receive from my previous teachers from ‘Viilor Hospitality High-School, Mrs Ioana Sasu and the Sommelier Coordinators School, Mr. Constantin Florea & Mrs. Cornelia Toma, who remain the base of the professional career I created, they develop you step by step.”

Do You Remember Your First Experience With Sparkling Wine? When It Was And What Kind Of Wine It Was?

“Certainly, I do remember. Having had the opportunity to work in 5-star Hotels since the beginning of my career, I have had the chance to open good Champagne house bottles. I started to read and learn more about Champagne. The more you learn, the more you need to study. 😊

What I really remember, is the 1st in depth Champagne information I received from Mr Bratu Marius, a very professional East European Wine Director, when he & Halewood Romania selected me and other sommeliers to do centralized Sommelier Classes at ‘Rhein Cellars’ from Azuga, Prahova District, a Sparkling Wine House, established in 1892.”

During Your Time As A Sommelier, What’s The Most Surprising & Interesting Thing You’ve Learnt?

“That is a good question. The more mature you become, as a Sommelier, you will realise that you’re working in such a lovely industry that offers you always the opportunity to learn more. Each and every day you can learn and discover new things, and new information, in order to increase your food and wine knowledge.

Also, the most important is the Guest satisfaction and the empathy with them. At the same time, the control of the G.P. (Gross Profit Margin) cost and profitability for your company is highly important to be settled and organized.”

What Champagne/Sparkling Wine Producing Countries or Regions Hold A Special Place In Your Heart?

Very sensitive question. I will start with 2 quotes about Champagne that motivate and make me focus:

‘’My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne.’’ F. Scott Fitzgerald

‘’ Wine gives one ‘ideas,’ whereas Champagne gives one ‘strategies'”. Roman Paynes

I identify myself as a lover of the ‘Blanc de Blanc’ Champagne style. I love Antinori Franciacorta & for day to day Sparkling wine, I have started to enjoy the Alsace Cremant & Burgundy Cremant.

However, I see a quality development of East European Sparkling Wines and a lot of professionals from the world wine field/industry predict that East European wines will be the new trend in Sparkling wines. Countries such as Romania, Serbia and Moldova have started to create some outstanding sparkling wines.

From Romania, a very interesting sparkling wine is from the Dragasani-Oltenia wine region, where I tasted a lovely traditional method sparkling wine from Avincis Winery, a blend of  ‘Crâmpoșie Selecționată’ a Romanian grape variety and Pinot Noir. We can also find splendid sparkling wine at Rhein Cellar – Established in 1892, which is under the Alexandrion Group at the moment and is the main supplier for the Romanian Royal Family.

During my last holiday, I had the lovely opportunity to taste some interesting sparkling wines, the Silvania Brut Nature, from Silvania Vineyards and an outstanding Cuvée de Purcari White Brut. From Serbia, I was very impressed by the white Brut from Kovacevic Winery, made from Chardonnay and Riesling and a 100% Chardonnay from Podrum Aleksandrovic Winery.”

How Important Is It From Your Point Of View, Communicating With The Service Brigade And Kitchen As A Sommelier?

“That is a must for all the sommeliers, even if a commis sommelier, a sommelier, a senior sommelier or a head sommelier, the COMMUNICATION with the team for service is a priority from both sides. Also, I recommend all the sommeliers hold weekly meetings with the Head Chef/Executive to understand exactly the way of cooking and all the ingredients referenced in all the food menus. In the restaurant industry, the good service and the accolades are coming in the places with top communication.”

What Advice Would You Give Inspiring Sommeliers?

“To be involved, concern and focus. The wine industry is a great environment that could offer a lot of benefits in order to build yourself as a professional. To interact with the guests and listen to their personal tastes and preferences. Each and every day, to be motivated, they will learn new things/information. The more you study, the more you need to study. To follow weekly the ASI(International Sommelier Association) Social Media, Court of Master Sommelier page or International Sommelier Guild.

All those mentioned and a high level of communication and dedication will create a successful pathway development.”

Where’s The Most Memorable Place You’ve Enjoyed A Glass of Bubbly?

“That is also a question with a sensible and memorable time.

A personal moment, was when my son was born, in 2018, when I was enjoying a lovely ‘Foss Marai Prosecco Cartizze’ from Valdobbiadene.

A professional moment, happened during my time in Vienna, Austria, when I was Head of the Romanian Sommelier Delegation and our candidate selected for that competition, Mrs. Iulia Scavo qualified for the ASI-Sommelier’s Contest European & Africa Final. We opened a ‘Taittinger Brut Non-Vintage’. Such a great performance for Romania & Balkans.”

Additional Question for Champagne CollectorsWhat’s The Oldest Vintage Champagne You’ve Tasted?

“Due to the professional environment and amazing companies that I’ve worked for, I had the privilege to taste and drink some incredible and rare Champagnes. However, I could mention a few that will always remain in my mind:

Krug Collection 1995, Dom Ruinart 1990, Salon Clos du Mesnil 1996, Armand de Brignac Midas, Dom Perignon Brut 1970 or Dom Perignon 1996.”

Thank you, Alexandru, for sharing your words, knowledge and experiences with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!

Photo Credit belongs to Alexandru Dan, Glass of Bubbly was granted permission, to use them.

Oliver Walkey

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.