Interview With A Sommelier – Mustafa Zorluoğlu
14th December 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 Mustafa Zorluoğlu, let’s find out a bit about his life as a Sommelier.
Tell Us About Yourself
“I am Mustafa Zorluoğlu, born in 1976 in Bursa, Turkey. I have always been curious and inquisitive by nature. Wine has been a part of my life since I can remember. In 1999, I met Gence Alton. At that time, I was trying to understand foreign wines, which were not very common in our country. When I asked Gence Alton how I could understand these wines and explain them to guests, he told me, “If you want to understand these wines, read what is written on the labels and learn where they are made.” From that day on, I started reading bottle labels.
In 2001, during a wine tasting, I caught the attention of the moderator with my ability to understand and describe wines. He told me that I should work on it. So, I did just that. Wherever and whenever they offered training, I was there. By the way, I never neglected to train my nose. During those years, I attended the Master corkscrew training courses organized by a wine company in Turkey, and I successfully completed them. During those years, the Internet was just beginning to develop, and I was conducting research online in addition to attending courses.
After Isa Bal became the European Sommelier champion in 2008, he supported the organization of a competition in Turkey in 2009. The first Turkey Sommelier competition took place in 2009. I was invited to participate in this competition and I became a finalist, finishing in 4th place. I couldn’t participate in the second competition because I got married, but in the third competition, I won first place. Later, in 2012, I obtained my certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers in the United Kingdom. I also completed WSET Level 1 and Level 2 courses provided by IWSA in Istanbul. When the year 2016 came, I participated in the Turkey Sommelier competition again and won first place for the second time. Currently, in Turkey, I am the only person who has won the championship twice. I am currently working as the Head Sommelier and Manager at Spago Istanbul Restaurant. I love my job and enjoy doing it.
Wine and the world of high alcohol always astonish me with everything I learn. Each wine I taste having different aromas and flavors. However, the most fascinating thing was the 1928 Chateau Lafite Rothschild still being elegant and remarkably delicious in 2013. It left a strong impression on me.”
Do You Remember Your First Experience With Sparkling Wine? When It Was And What Kind Of Wine It Was?
“I can’t remember when I tasted my first sparkling wine. But the unforgettable Champagne, if I’m not mistaken, was the 1999 Salon. Its taste still lingers in my mind.”
What Inspired You To Become a Sommelier?
“I suppose the first answer to this question could be curiosity. Being a sommelier gives me the opportunity to share my knowledge with guests and knowing that I serve as a bridge to explain the harmony between food and wine gives me great pleasure.”
What Advice Would You Give An Inspiring Sommelier?
“For aspiring sommeliers and my sommelier friends, my advice would be to work hard, never give up, stay focused, exercise regularly, and enjoy both wine and life.”
If You Sat Down For A Quiet Dinner, What Dish And Sparkling Wine Would You Choose To Enjoy Together?
“If I were sitting at a table for a very special dinner, I would still choose a Salon, and some pan-seared razor clams would be a perfect match. But for a calm evening meal, I might opt for a Ca’del Bosco with some ceviche on the side. Cheers!”
Thank you, Mustafa, 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 Mustafa Zorluoğlu. 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.