Interview With A Sommelier – Jack Evans
9th August 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 Jack Evans. Let’s find out a bit about his life as a Sommelier.
Tell Us About Yourself
“Hi there! My name is Jack Evans, 19, and I’m a sommelier at the PIG in the South Downs in the modest yet utterly stunning hamlet of Madehurst, West Sussex. Born and raised in Sussex, I went on to complete my A-levels in the midst of Covid-19, with really rather average grades to my name I must say! Following a stint of working as a runner at a restaurant on the South Coast, a few months later I joined The PIG Hotels as a trainee sommelier, rapidly falling madly in love with wine. It’s been an immensely exciting 18 months in the wine trade so far, becoming a sommelier in the group, and have just begun the exciting next step in my wine journey – the WSET Diploma!”
What Inspired You To Become a Sommelier?
“Working as a runner really opened my eyes to the magic of hospitality, especially once the world had started reopening from all the pandemic threw in its way. It is an industry capable of lifting moods, and often responsible for an invaluable cohesion of friends and family. I would often look towards wine as a catalyst to this, subtly raising the tempo of conversation on a table and with it, the overall chemistry of the group. Also, I have always been a bit of a geography nerd, so once I started seeing how a wines place of origin influenced its characteristics, I was hooked.
The penny drop moment was probably on a trip to Chianti Classico with my father in 2020, we visited a vineyard/winery called Poggerino. It was here I realised wine wasn’t just fermented grape juice, it’s a character created from passion, intricacy and the terroir itself. To fuse wine and hospitality together, there seemed no better job.”
During Your Time As A Sommelier, What’s The Most Surprising Thing You’ve Learnt?
“I’d have to say the inclusive nature of the wine trade has been my biggest surprise so far. I feel the industry suffers from seeming exclusive, and difficult to be a part of sometimes. From my experience this couldn’t be any further from the truth. As an 18 year old joining the wine trade, I would be lying if I said there weren’t small doses of imposter syndrome in the early months. However, that very quickly faded when I started to meet like-minded, passionate individuals at tastings and at the hotel. I believe the power of networking should never be underestimated – to meet new people and forge interesting discussions has proven to be a really effective tool for learning. Portfolio tastings no longer just entail trying each wine, but catching up with good friends from the trade!”
How Often Do You Find Yourself Recommending English Sparkling Wine?
“Almost always. Here at the PIG, we are huge advocates of English sparkling. Since opening our first restaurant with rooms in Brockenhurst in 2011, we have suppressed Champagne on our lists, offering Bollinger as our house pour, but elsewhere pledging to list over 40 different English wines at each property. As a group, we hope to be at the vanguard of the English sparkling wine industry, with the firm responsibility of providing the immense quality of wines that English and Welsh vineyards are offering to a wider audience.
Personally, I believe the quality of English Sparkling is resounding and thoroughly deserving of its newfound international recognition. There is always talk of ‘climate change falling into our hands’ in the coming decades when it comes to sparkling wine production, however, I believe there is enough evidence on show to prove we have already laid the foundations of a very high quality, diverse sparkling wine scene. With UK winemakers seeming to consistently deliver great balances of structure, complexity, topped with an archetypal English layer of bright, linear acidity year in year out. I think we are in a very good place right now!”
In Your Professional Opinion, Out Of Champagne And Prosecco, Which Do You Think Does A Better Job With Complementing A Meal?
“I think the answer depends on the meal in question. If I had to choose between the two for the remainder of my meals I would have to go with Champagne. Take nothing away from well-made Prosecco, when it’s done right it can yield outstanding results, but there is a special aura that hangs around Champagne. Whether it’s a classic cuvée, a Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noir or a Rosé, there’s a consistent sense of quality that runs through the wines of the best producers in the region. The grand marques may have their ever reliant house styles, however, it is smaller-scale grower Champagne that really excites me. It is these wines that typically offer a true expression of local terroir, and the gastronomic backbone of Champenois culture.”
What Advice Would You Give Aspiring Sommeliers?
“This may sound strange to begin with, but stay with me… Embrace the fact you will know absolutely nothing at the start. The breadth of content that there is to be learnt each day is one of the great joys of working with wine. With this, nothing is a stupid question when starting out. I remember I was sent down to the cellar one quiet Tuesday afternoon, very very early in my wine journey, and opened the Chardonnay page of a WSET level 2 textbook. After note taking for 20 minutes or so, my understanding of wine felt like it changed ten-fold! Embrace education, drink great wines, throw yourself into the trade by starting a conversation with new people and (most importantly) have fun!”
If You Sat Down For A Quiet Dinner, What Dish And Sparkling Wine Would You Choose To Enjoy Together?
“It would have to be Cacio e Pepe and Bollinger’s RD 2007. The former is arguably my favourite ever dish. A true showcase of how 4 cheap and simple ingredients can create a flavour so mesmeric. A staple of Italian cuisine. The latter is the greatest sparkling wine I’ve ever tasted. In early 2022, I was extremely lucky to taste RD 2007 at the Bollinger winery itself – it’s a wine of delectable complexity and mind-boggling maturity. A wine for the ages some could say!”
Thank you, Jack, 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 Jack Evans. 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.