Interview With A Sommelier – Fedon Dernikos
17th January 2024
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 who has helped many people to discover the vast world of Wines and Sparkling Wines, his name is Fedon Dernikos, let’s find out a bit about his life as a Sommelier.
Tell Us About Yourself
“I was born and raised in Athens, Greece. After I graduated high school, I studied Oenology and Beverage Technology. At the same time, I started the long journey of WSET in Greece which later I continued in London. Also with my studies, I was working in the hospitality industry. In the beginning, I started as a waiter but randomly was fascinated with the sommelier job. I started as a junior sommelier in one of the first wine restaurants in Athens and after two and half years I took the helm of the wine in the restaurant. My last position in Greece was as a head sommelier in a 2 Michelin-star restaurant called Funky Gourmet for 5 years.
When I landed in London, as I had already started the WSET Diploma, I had the chance to start my new career at 67 Pall Mall next to great wine professionals and to meet many of the most famous personalities in the wine industry. There I had the full motivation to finish my studies at WSET Diploma and to start the new adventure of CMS. Definitely one of my biggest dreams came true with that entire experience.
After two and a half years I felt that it was time for a new venture in my career and I moved to the new opening in Mayfair which is called Bacchanalia. I started there as an Assistant Head Sommelier but nowadays I’m the Head Sommelier of the restaurant.”
Do You Remember Your First Experience With Sparkling Wine? When It Was And What Kind Of Wine It Was?
“My first experience with sparkling wine was in a restaurant, it was when I was around 21 years old (a long time ago) and of course, I remember it like yesterday.
I was in Greece and one table ordered me a bottle of Greek rosé sparkling wine from Amynteo, a Xinomavro variety. I was surprised, as it was the first time that someone ordered a bottle of sparkling wine from me and I should have known how to open it, but I had no idea!
Finally, everything went well. I opened the wine, I tasted it and I was really amazed with the texture of bubbles and the aromatic character. A memorable moment.”
What Inspired You To Become a Sommelier?
“When I started to work next to sommeliers, the first thing that stimulated me was the appearance, the finesse and the kind of words that they used to describe the wine. Gradually when I talked with them, I realized that behind them, there was a background of knowledge and work experience.
When I started down my own wine path through the University of Oenology, WSET and CMS I tasted as many wines as possible every day in an effort to describe them in the best way.
I assume that all these factors were the trigger to become the sommelier I am today.”
During Your Time As A Sommelier, What’s The Most Surprising & Interesting Thing You’ve Learnt?
“This may be the most difficult question. Because when you carry on your career, you always learn new and more exciting things. One of the most interesting things I believe was when I started to learn in depth about every wine producing country, especially France. I discovered how the type of soils, climate factors, altitudes and sites can affect the vine growing and the wine in the end.
The most surprising things I learned through the winemakers’ stories when I visited wineries around the world. Everyone has a very interesting story regarding the winery or the wine region which they are willing to share.”
What Sparkling Wine Producing Countries or Regions Hold A Special Place In Your Heart?
“I believe I won’t surprise anyone! Champagne is the first name that comes to my mind. Like many of my colleagues, me too. I’m fascinated with the Champagne region. It isn’t only the exceptional versatility of the producers and the styles, that you can find. The most amazing thing is that with one type of Champagne, you can make very interesting pairings in an entire degustation menu.
In addition when you visit the region, to see the landscape, and the wineries with the tremendous underground cellars you see all the effort that is needed for every single bottle of Champagne, it is very difficult not to fall in love.
Champagne always will have a special place in my heart and there is a good reason to enjoy a bottle of it every single moment!”
Where’s The Most Memorable Place You’ve Enjoyed A Glass of Bubbly?
“It was June at 2 pm with the temperature around 30 degrees, I was in Korinthos around 1 hour away from Athens, at a small taverna that served only fish and seafood. Accompanied by four good friends our table was on the coast where the sea splashed. On the table all the classic Greek delicacies of taramosalata, fried squid, red mullet, Greek salad…
We had a bottle of Bollinger special cuvee. Definitely the most enjoyable Champagne I ever had!”
Thank you, Fedon, 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 Fedon Dernikos. 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.