Interview With A Sommelier – Matteo Furlan
25th January 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 article, I speak with a man who has helped many people to discover the vast world of Wines and Sparkling Wines, his name is Matteo Furlan and he’s currently the Head Sommelier at the Ritz London, let’s find out a bit about his life as a Sommelier.
Tell Us About Yourself
“I came from a little town near Venice where my family used to run a hotel. Being in hospitality has always been part of me. I have graduated in Tourism and Catering management. After my study and the completion of the sommelier courses in Italy, I decided to gain experience from some 5-star establishments around Europe. In 2015 I arrived in the UK and worked for two important companies, Caprice Holding and Hakkasan Group. Almost six years ago I had the opportunity to join the Ritz Hotel as Deputy Head sommelier, and after two years I have been promoted as Head Sommelier. I now manage a team of 7 and the daily operation of the Michelin restaurant, coordinating a wine list with over 1400 references from all over the world.”
What Inspired You To Become a Sommelier?
“Working in hospitality, I developed an interest in wine at an early stage, I was always asking questions to my colleagues, I wanted to know everything about the history of the producers and their philosophy. I was working in a family-run fine dining restaurant and one day the restaurant manager, (I think he was overwhelmed by me asking so many questions), suggested to me the Sommelier Course, which I joined straight away. That course opened my eyes to the wine world and I haven’t stopped since.”
During Your Time As A Sommelier, What’s The Most Surprising Thing You’ve Learnt?
“The most surprising thing I have learnt during my career is that you never stop learning, as a sommelier you need to be humble and willing to learn and discover new things every day. Very often you get to meet and engage with amazing individuals that are producing wines all over the world and you get to know their philosophy and winemaking techniques. Tasting, selecting and selling wines needs constant work and research making this job unique.”
How Often Do You Find Yourself Recommending English Sparkling Wine?
“I work in a very classic establishment where our most popular wines are Champagne, white Burgundy and red Bordeaux. We have a wide selection of sparkling wines from all over the country, representing different styles, producers and quality levels. We also feature in the hotel every month a Champagne house or sparkling wine producer with selected cuvées available by the glass and by the bottles. In the past years, we have featured successfully Nyetimber and Rathfinny. I believe Champagne has still a very important role in the sparkling category but I have seen an increase in popularity in sparkling wines produced in the UK and we are working hard to promote them in our outlets within the hotel.”
In Your Professional Opinion, Out Of Champagne And Prosecco, Which Do You Think Does A Better Job With Complementing A Meal?
“I do honestly believe they have different roles in pairing food and also I found that comparing them doesn’t do them justice. Generally, I would prefer the freshness and fruity character of Prosecco for lighter dishes, raw seafood, and charcuterie and the sweeter Cartizze or DRY (which despite the name is sweet) to match with desserts, gelato and fruit.
Champagne being produced in many different styles and being very often a vintage wine can be used to pair with fish dishes, poultry and sometimes meat too.
As a sommelier, we must be able to understand the dish and the wine to then match them accordingly, not forgetting the guest’s preference and needs.”
What Advice Would You Give Aspiring Sommeliers?
“My best advice would be to follow your dreams and passion! If you like to work with people, you love wine and you are willing to travel, well this job offers plenty of opportunities. It does also require hard work and commitment but will give you the chance of meeting amazing people every day and learning from them.”
If You Sat Down For A Quiet Dinner, What Dish And Sparkling Wine Would You Choose To Enjoy Together?
“I am Italian and very often I drink sparkling wines produced in my country, I need to be honest, my partner loves Champagne, so every time is a fun fight to decide what to drink. Something that I have enjoyed recently was a plain tuna tartare served with a beautiful bottle of Ferrari Perle 2013.”
Thank you, Matteo, 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 Matteo Furlan. 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.