Interview With A Sommelier – Juliet Doughty

5th June 2024

Interview With A Sommelier Juliet Doughty

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 from, England, who has helped many people to discover the vast world of Wines and Sparkling Wines, her name is Juliet Doughty, let’s find out about her life as a Sommelier.

Tell Us About Yourself

“I am the Head Sommelier at Elystan Street restaurant, I have been in the wine industry since I started at Ten Green Bottles in Brighton in 2011. I have delved into retail, sales, but most importantly hospitality, which is what has driven my career for the past 10 years. I am a wine enthusiast, and luckily enough I have one as a husband too, as he is the Head Somm at Scott’s in Richmond. I am a Somm who cares about taste, not price point and I just want people to love the wine they are drinking and to come away feeling like they have enjoyed every sip of what was in their glass.”

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 drinking the £3.99 bottles of cava from Sainsbury’s. I have always enjoyed drinking bubbly, it makes you feel like you’re celebrating something, even if you’re not. From 15/16 I always used to ask my mum to get me and my friends cava for special nights.

I then just went on to love it, there was always a bottle of Champagne for every birthday and every Christmas.”

What Inspired You To Become a Sommelier?

“Would it be too cliché to say wine…? Actually there was a moment, believe it or not, when I was working at Due South in Brighton and we had a rep come in to do a tasting with all of us on some of the wines that we had on the list. I remember we were tasting the Domaine Pelle Menetou Salon Blanc, and he asked what we smelt and I said elderflower, citrus, a little bit of green apple, and he commented that he thought I had a ‘good nose’ and it was that moment that piqued my interest. Two weeks later, I was signed up for the WSET level 2 and two years later I was signed on to the WSET Diploma. After that, I was hooked on wine, but not always working as a Somm. The Somm part came later, and it was when I was living in Canada. I went out for dinner to a restaurant called ‘Hawksworth’. I got served by the Somm and was fascinated by his warmth and hospitality and eagerness to serve a bottle of wine that suited me and my meal. 2 years later and my WSET level 4 pin, I started as a Sommelier at Hawksworth working under Bryant Mao and that was it… 4 years of tough training, impeccable standards, and serving, suggesting and pouring wine.”

During Your Time As A Sommelier, What’s The Most Surprising & Interesting Thing You’ve Learnt?

“How much people don’t know about wine.

No, I’ll be serious…

I think how important good wine with good food is. Also how a good pairing can completely change a meal. When you find a wine that harmonises in perfect balance with the food, it is pure magic. When the wine lifts the food and vice versa it is incredible and the most interesting thing it’s all chemisity that is happening on your palate in your mouth, it is all science.”

What Sparkling Wine Producing Countries or Regions Hold A Special Place In Your Heart?

“England… I did my first vintage in 2019 in the UK, I worked at Gusbourne, doing night shifts, I filled, pressed and cleaned 3 x 8000L presses every night through harvest. I also harvested some of the fruit, I stirred the barrel ferments. I learnt how to siphon wine from a barrel. I also ran through the vineyards of Gusbourne, I was camping on a nearby farm and I became pretty intimate with those vineyards. It will always be a very special winery and region for me.

Apart from that… Champagne, I have been there 3 times, the first when I was 15 and I remember being amazed when we had a cheese course and they brought a glass of Champagne. To this day I still pair Champagne with cheese, it’s such a wonderful combo.”

What Advice Would You Give Inspiring Sommeliers?

“Taste, taste, taste and talk to your guests, ask questions be curious and whatever you do… it’s not about the money, it doesn’t matter if guests spend £60 or £600 on a bottle of wine, it’s about the experience that they have when drinking it and ensuring that they loved it every sip of it.”

Where’s The Most Memorable Place You’ve Enjoyed A Glass of Bubbly?

“At the highest lookout point of Lummi Island, looking over the Rosario Strait and the San Juan Islands..”

Additional Question asked by Champagne Collectors – What’s the Oldest Vintage Champagne You’ve Tasted?

“1971 Piper-Heidsieck Hors-Serie… it’s not for me, I like younger Champagnes 10-15 years of age.”

Thank you, Juliet, for sharing your words, knowledge and experiences with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!

Photo Credit belongs to Juliet Doughty, Glass of Bubbly was granted permission, to use them.

Oliver Walkey

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.