Interview With A Sommelier – Rajender Punia

20th June 2024

Interview With A Sommelier Rajender Punia

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, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, who has helped many people to discover the vast world of Wines and Sparkling Wines, his name is Rajender Punia, let’s find out about his life as a Sommelier.

Tell Us About Yourself

“Born in India, I am Rajender Punia, a Wine Sommelier with six years of experience working with various hotels and restaurants.”

What Inspired You To Become a Sommelier?

“I grew up with a deep appreciation for the land and the hard work that goes into farming. From a young age, I have a deep bond with agricultural land as a farmer’s son. I learned the value of dedication, perseverance, and the importance of nurturing the earth to provide for our families and communities. I watched my parents tend to the crops and livestock with care and passion.

As a sommelier, my passion for wine and the art of pairing it with food has been a driving force in my journey. I have always been intrigued by the complexities and nuances of wine, from the different grape varieties to the regions they come from and the diverse flavours they exhibit.”

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

“During my time at an ITC hotel in Mumbai, India, I embarked on a thrilling adventure to the first Indian vineyard, Sula Nasik, where I indulged in my very first sparkling wine-tasting escapade.”

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

“To me, being a sommelier goes beyond simply serving and pouring wine; I view it as being a ‘storyteller.’ This role allows me to delve into a variety of beverages, ranging from sake and cider to beers and non- alcoholic options, all thoughtfully paired with food. This approach enhances the guest experience by providing a wide range of choices and combinations.”

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

“Champagne, particularly Cristal Louis Roederer, is a personal favourite of mine. I often liken Champagne to a dependable friend who never fails to impress when in doubt. It’s important to remember that Champagne comes in various styles, making it suitable for any occasion and a wide range of food pairings. My initial wine exploration took me to Champagne, a place that remains close to my heart. The experience was unforgettable and deepened my connection with this exceptional beverage.”

What Advice Would You Give Inspiring Sommeliers?

“As a sommelier, it’s crucial to do more than just pour wine; it’s also important to comprehend the guests. Stay engaged in wine-tasting events to enhance your expertise. Establish good rapport with guests and grasp their requirements.”

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

“I had the privilege of sampling the 2015 Louis Roederer Cristal at MAHEC restaurants in Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre. During an evening visit from a loyal guest and his girlfriend, I opened the bottle for them, which presented me with a delightful chance to taste it myself. Without a doubt, it was one of the most unforgettable Champagne experiences I’ve ever had.”

What’s The Oldest Vintage Champagne You’ve Tasted? Asked on Behalf of Champagne Collectors

“I sampled the Laurent Perrier Alexandra 1998 at the upscale dining establishment located at MAHEC in Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre.”

Thank you, Rajender, 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 Rajender Punia, 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.