Interview With A Sommelier – Maria Cintoli

24th April 2024

Interview With A Sommelier Maria Cintoli

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 Maria Cintoli, let’s find out about her life as a Sommelier.

Tell Us About Yourself

“My name is Maria Cintoli, I come from Puglia, in the warm Southern Italy. My dream has always been to live in England, don’t ask me why 😀 It was 2017 when I moved to Sussex.

To be honest my English was very poor so I started with a commis waitress job.

The world of wine has always fascinated me and the beautiful hotel where I was working gave me the chance to study for the WSET.

That’s how everything started I must say! Level after level, until the Level 4 Diploma, promotion after promotion until the Head Sommelier position in the Michelin starred restaurant.

Very big achievements for me in the past six years!”

Do You Remember Your First Experience With Sparkling Wine? When It Was And What Kind Of Wine It Was?

“My first approach to wine started when I was little, during Christmas time my aunt was always bringing beautiful bottles to share with the whole family and I was allowed a little sip as well.

I remember appreciating a lot the sparkling wine and all the curiosity behind the bubbles in the bottle. It must have been a bottle of Franciacorta for sure.”

What Inspired You To Become a Sommelier?

“Inspiration to become a Sommelier came naturally. Passion for learning has always been there and with the wine, you never stop learning. And the tasting side? so much more fun than just serving food! During service the interaction with guests is unique, they share their preferences, and I share my opinion. They trust the sommelier openly and that’s beautiful. When they approve the suggestion or they like so much a wine from my wine list, I just feel over the moon!”

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

“During my career as a sommelier and after all my studies, the fact that I have learnt to blind taste still surprises me very much. It’s funny, I mean, I still have to improve a lot, but in the past, I would never have imagined myself capable of guessing a grape variety, country or whatever by sniffing from a glass. And when you spot a fault in the wine, well that’s interesting too and sad at the same time!”

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

“Despite being Italian, I found myself to be a big fan of English Sparkling wines.

The fact that in Sussex I am surrounded by vineyards, the local philosophy, the high standards, the difficulties, and the deliciousness of certain wines, I am very happy to be here while all of this is happening and very curious to see how the future will look like for the English wines.

Rathfinny has a big spot in my heart, it has been one of the first English wines I have tried. We were just sitting outside their beautiful estate, facing those vineyards and drinking their Classic Cuvée 2016. It was love at first sip. 

What Advice Would You Give Inspiring Sommeliers?

“Hospitality is a hard job and long hours shift but it is also the best school. You have the greatest chance to learn and grow, not only in your career but as a better human being as well.”

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

“The most memorable place where I enjoyed a glass of bubbly is certainly down the Crayères (natural chalk caves) at Maison Ruinart in Reims, France. What an incredible experience being 40 meters below the surface! The beauty of the Unesco site, the peace and silence where all their bottles are stored, the goosebumps because of the low temperature but also because you breathe the history of Champagne. Memorable.”

Thank you, Maria, 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 Maria Cintoli. 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.