Interview With A Sommelier – Federica Benazizi
13th November 2023
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 woman who has helped many people to discover the vast world of Wines and Sparkling Wines, her name is Federica Benazizi, let’s find out a bit about her life as a Sommelier.
Tell Us About Yourself
“My name is Federica Benazizi, I am 33 years old, and I was born and raised in Rome. As of 2017, I am a Sommelier AIS (Italian Sommerlier Association) and an International Relations graduate. I have contributed as a writer for the Italian collective blog Intravino and also as an undercover ‘memer’ for the naughtiest community of wine ‘memers,’ called Italian Wine Drunkposting.
After juggling wines throughout the city of Rome – notably Enoteca Mosto’ and Acquolina** – I am now based in Dubai. Together with Head Sommelier, Lorenzo Abussi, we were a part of the pre-opening team of the City Social House by celebrity chef Jason Atherton located in the Grosvenor House, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Dubai.
The City Social House received one Toque for Gault & Millau and we were also selected in the Michelin Guide, Dubai, just 5 months after our opening. After a remarkable opening, we still continue doing our wine thing by regularly conducting tastings, learning the greater wine world and exploring everything related to wine.”
Do You Remember Your First Experience With Sparkling Wine? When It Was And What Kind Of Wine It Was?
“When you are born in Rome, the first wine you get to drink is from Castelli Romani, those luscious volcanic hills just outside the city where everybody goes to find solace from the summer heat. So, one day my best friend took me there for lunch and we were having fragrant Genzano bread with savoury Porchetta di Ariccia when he suggested we try wine. The owner took out a bottle of Romanella from under the counter: a light semi-dry white (or red) sparkling wine which is traditionally made by fermenting the wine for a second time, directly in the bottle. Do not get me wrong, it is very far from Champagne, but nothing beats the taste of home!”
What Inspired You To Become a Sommelier?
“Inspiration is everywhere! But, what inspired me to become a Sommelier were the people I met during my wine journey. First and foremost, Ciro Borriello from Enoteca Mosto’ where I did my apprenticeship along with a crash course on natural wine. Secondly, Sandro Sangiorgi from Porthos author of the most incredible book on wine ever written: ’L’invenzione Della Gioia.; He was the one who taught me to look for “wine outside wine.
I am deeply grateful to Nicola Perullo for gifting me his book ‘Epistenology: Wine as Experience’ which gave me a new and mind-blowing perspective on taste. I am grateful to Armando Castagno who helped me shed light on Burgundy wine during my professional Masters certification. Last but not least, Francesco Romanazzi, who is a true example of professionalism. To them and to many other friends whom I met along the way, I owe them everything.”
During Your Time As A Sommelier, What’s The Most Surprising & Interesting Thing You’ve Learnt?
“Good wine always changes. And trying to grasp something that changes or trying to make sense of it and describe it with words is the most challenging and rewarding part of our tasks as Sommeliers. I like to imagine it is like trying to grasp scattered energy that works to prove itself cohesive or like reading an emotion suspended in time in a blurred photograph. Pardon my poetry, but I always think that seemingly objective-descriptive language is not suited to describe wine for it lacks the ability to engage our senses, which is something wine excels at.”
What Advice Would You Give An Aspiring Sommelier?
“Never give up. Never settle for less than your dreams. Remember: you are not obliged to swallow anything you despise. Work hard on yourself, feed yourself with good books, travel, taste and results will eventually come. Find people to share your passion with as they will be fundamental to your journey for one very important reason: when you pop that bottle of Champagne (preferably 100% Meunier) to celebrate your success, who will be there to raise a toast with you?”
If You Sat Down For A Quiet Dinner, What Dish And Sparkling Wine Would You Choose To Enjoy Together?
“I will nibble on some taralli with a glass of Ca’ dei Zago Valdobbiadene col fondo followed by a demi-bouteille of Francois Bedel Origin’elle gracefully accompanying my next dish, which could be… taglioni all’astice. Finally, a glass (or maybe two) of Moscato d’Asti Carussin with a delicious lemon custard and sour cherry tart.”
Thank you, Federica, for sharing your words, knowledge and experiences with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!
Images belong to Federica Benazizi. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission, to use them.
Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.