Interview With A Sommelier – Raffaele Martinelli

29th April 2024

Interview With A Sommelier Raffaele Martinelli

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

Tell Us About Yourself

“My name is Raffaele Martinelli and I’m a 27 year old Sommelier from the South of Italy, to be precise, from the beautiful city of Naples. I’ve been working in hospitality since 2015, when I decided to move from Italy to the United Kingdom, starting my career as a food runner and falling in love with the industry straight away. I see myself working in contact with people and chatting about food and drinks all my life, as it is something that makes me particularly happy, that’s why, my plans for the future are hopefully related to what I’m involved in at the moment.”

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

“I discovered Sparkling Wines and started to appreciate them pretty randomly:

During my experience working on the floor of a place called THE PHENE, in Chelsea, I had the pleasure of discovering one of the best things this country has to offer.. service charge! Each month with my paycheck, myself and one of my dearest colleagues ‘Carlos Serafini’ (Now Master of Wine) would spend our entire month’s service charge on some amazing sparkling wines whilst enjoying a plate of oysters in the Cross Keys pub over the road. One in particular that I remember especially and we would order repeatedly was a Ruinart Blanc de Blanc. Definitely one of the greatest Champagne I had the pleasure to drink.”

What Inspired You To Become a Sommelier?

“I’d like to say that even though I come from Italian Heritage, drinking alcohol has never been part of my family routine, so even less was to appreciate and discover the wines. When I moved to the UK, things seemed very different, here drinking and sometimes appreciating what you drink is part of the culture, and the way British people do it makes me happy! The moment I started to take orders I felt like I needed to offer more to my guests and that’s when I decided to improve my knowledge about “God’s Juice”.

From the day I started to learn how to communicate in English, I had to deal with people who were strongly involved in wine, including my managers, colleagues and customers, which was a great incentive and motivation to discover what back then was an unknown world. Still today, I consider that the best choice of my life so far.”

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

“I’ve been working as a Sommelier since I took my first certification in 2016 and since then, every day is a surprise. The wine industry is vast and exciting. It has given me the opportunity to travel around the world, meet many wine lovers and learn stories behind what before seemed to me only labels. I’m particularly fascinated by the history of some vineyards, their past, their origins and all the historical events those lands went through. It’s incredible as some of those vines are still presenting us with crops of pure joy, even though they went through some dark times. I’m a huge White Burgundy Fan and that’s why when I learned about the Malolactic Fermentation process I was truly excited to understand where this spectacular creaminess came from, so since then I consider that one of my favorite discoveries.”

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

“In the last few years, it feels a bit like Champagne has lost some importance in the Bubbly world, not because the products’ quality has dropped, but only because the consumers seem to be more adventurous than ever before. It doesn’t surprise me as I notice how many other countries are producing outstanding products which easily beat the high price of Champagne. Saying that, if I have to speak highly about some regions that produce good sparkling wines, a must mention goes to Franciacorta, in Lombardy (Check Ca’ del Bosco Ed. 44/45) or Kent Sparkling, South East Coast (Check Barnsole Blanc de Noir). England is improving so we better keep an eye on it!”

What Advice Would You Give Inspiring Sommeliers?

“Honestly it may sound crazy but I would recommend anyone to jump into this career as it opens so many gates in life, if you know what I mean. If you are an inspiring Sommelier remember that you decided to invest in yourself, in your knowledge, in your abilities and that will be everything you have to offer, but even better, you will have the opportunity to offer all this, whenever you want, in each part of the world, where there are people that enjoy a nice bottle of wine. You are making yourself simply limitless in terms of “where you wanna work” and not many jobs give you this opportunity. If you love talking to wine lovers, share what you learned and know that there will always be some more to learn, well, being a Sommelier is the right thing to do!”

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

“Well..even if it is not much of a wine country, the moment, the feelings, the view..everything was more than perfect on the beach in Phuket. It was a Cremant Brut, nothing well known or overly expensive but at the moment felt like one of the best experiences with bubbles of my life.

Leaving that moment again, just sounds like a dream, that’s why I consider that the most memorable of all of them.”

Thank you, Raffaele, 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 Raffaele Martinelli. 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.