Interview With A Sommelier – Grace Matt
11th October 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 man who has helped many people to discover the vast world of Wines and Sparkling Wines, his name is Grace Matt, let’s find out a bit about his life as a Sommelier.
Tell Us About Yourself
“I was born and raised in Kinshasa; I went to study computer science in Cput Cape Town and that’s where I started working in the hospitality industry while studying. After my studies, I landed a job in the UAE as a bartender in a wine bar at Saadiyat Island around Abu Dhabi. Until then working in the hospitality industry was just a quick way to make some money travel and have fun. Part of my job was to do the weekly order and do the monthly inventory of the entire wine menu, which gave me just enough basics of wine knowledge.”
What Inspired You To Become A Sommelier?
“After my time in Abu Dhabi, I went to open a new resort hotel that’s where I met with Manuel Montesano who at the time was the resort’s Head Sommelier, he quickly noticed my basic wine knowledge and took me under his wing. I spent some time with him after work studying wine service, techniques and learning about some of the best wine experiences of his journey in the wine industry. Then Manuel moved to Dubai to open the Viceroy Hotel and took me as a Junior Sommelier for an Italia Restaurant. By now I had started enjoying the wine world and taking the job more seriously so I went on to do WSET level 1-3. Currently, I am the Restaurant Sommelier for the famous Asia-Asia Restaurant by Solution Leisure and a proud FWS from Wine Scholar Guild.”
During Your Time As A Sommelier, What’s The Most Surprising Thing You’ve Learnt?
“I have learnt to be curious and up to date because the journey in the wine world is full of excitement, and is bigger than the city I am living in. The importance of glassware, endless studying material, new wine regions to be discovered and many more. Above all to stay humbled and focused.”
How Often Do You Find Yourself Recommending English Sparkling Wine?
“There is a huge number of English expats in Dubai which means many of them have tried English Sparkling wine at least once, the culture of English wine in Dubai is not as popular as Champagne, but wine connoisseurs and some wine lovers do appreciate a good English sparkling once you present it to them.
Quality wise there are some good names for sparkling wine recently, I am sure the popularity of the wine will grow year after year.
In Your Professional Opinion, Out Of Champagne And Prosecco, Which Do You Think Does A Better Job With Complementing A Meal?
“That’s very interesting, sparkling wine is often drunk as an aperitif or after a meal or even alone, but I do believe both can do a great job depending on the situation as Prosecco is slightly sweeter than Champagne it can easily complement some meals while Champagne with its high acidity, complexity, fine bubbles and bouquet does a better job on other dishes. There are also some very good sparkling wines that can do a great job which are similar to Champagne, Franciacorta for example which is lesser known to many can be a good option on pairing.”
What Advice Would You Give Inspiring Sommeliers?
“First of all they need to take the job seriously as a career, find a mentor, surround themselves with wine professionals with better or greater experience than themselves. Don’t stop learning, join a wine group, or study group to share knowledge. expand your world by learning more than just wine, learn management skills, sales and leadership skills that will help you grow in the field. Above all love the job you are doing and don’t forget to have fun at work.”
If You Sat Down For A Quiet Dinner, What Dish And Sparkling Wine Would You Choose To Enjoy Together?
“As a Pollotarian, I will definitely go for a nice grilled chicken breast with a creamy sauce and mix of vegetables plus a nice glass of Champagne Ruinart Blanc de Blancs to compliment the sauce.”
Thank you, Grace, 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 Grace Matt. 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.