Interview With A Sommelier – Florence Tilkens Zotiades
6th December 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 Florence Tilkens Zotiades, let’s find out a bit about her life as a Sommelier.
Tell Us About Yourself
“My name is Florence Tilkens Zotiades. I was born and bred in France where I studied modern languages at Sorbonne University in Paris. My first career in international development was spent between London and Paris. During my time in France, I used to go to wine tasting classes; these tasting classes were the real starting point for my passion in wine.
As a matter of fact, when I decided to settle in London more than ten years ago, I chose to change my career path and indulge in my wine interests. I therefore started with WSET and then followed the courses of the UK Sommelier Association where I got my sommelier diploma. Today, as a sommelier, I provide consultancy services to restaurants, individuals or organisations in their choice of wines. I am also a wine writer, communicator and international wine judge.”
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 when I was 10: during the summer, my parents, my sister and I moved to a larger house. On our first evening in the new house, my parents had invited a few neighbours for the traditional housewarming party. One of them brought a couple of bottles of Veuve Clicquot Brut Yellow Label… An excellent way to welcome us and to help my parents relax amongst the piles of unopened boxes! Of course, both my sister and I were allowed to have a few drops… I will never forget the wonderful feeling: the tingly bubbles and this ‘bearing lightness of being’…”
What Inspired You To Become a Sommelier?
“I decided to become a Sommelier for two reasons: first I had always admired sommeliers for their style, their knowledge of the distinct characteristics of different wines and their pairing with food dishes as well as their great sense of aesthetics.
Second, I was inspired by tales and mythology. For instance, in Greek mythology, the first sommelier or ‘cupbearer to the gods’ was Hebe, Goddess of eternal youth, prime of life and forgiveness. Some stories relate that Hebe, Hera’s daughter, resigned her office to marry Heracles; others tell us that she was dismissed by Zeus in consequence of a fall and replaced by the most handsome man on Earth, Ganymede. For a very long time, sommeliers have only been men. I am delighted to see that today, more and more women are embarking on this wonderful career path. I am also pleased to be one of them.”
During Your Time As A Sommelier, What’s The Most Surprising & Interesting Thing You’ve Learnt?
“Well… The most surprising and interesting thing I have learnt since my journey in the world of wines began, is that we never know everything: there are so many grape varieties, so many terroirs, so many wine regions… It is an endless, fascinating, journey which requires modesty, obstinacy and some sense of humour!”
What Advice Would You Give An Inspiring Sommelier?
“If I had a piece of advice to give, it would be: never stop learning, never stop tasting, never stop exchanging with winemakers: they are the true ‘wine stars’.”
If You Sat Down For A Quiet Dinner, What Dish And Sparkling Wine Would You Choose To Enjoy Together?
“For a lovely quiet dinner, I would choose some Greek sparkling wines, méthode traditionnelle.
For the starter, a scallop tartare, and the main course, a roasted guinea fowl supreme served with morel mushrooms, I would serve a Domaine Karanika, Cuvée Speciale Extra Brut (grape varieties: xinomavro 90% assyrtiko 10%. For the desert, a Charlotte with red berries, I would serve Domaine Karanika, Rose Brut (grape varieties: Xinomavro 98%/Limniona 2%).”
Thank you, Florence, 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 Florence Tilkens Zotiades. 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.