What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given in your career?
To compete in sommelier competitions: it helped me become a better sommelier and raise my profile, while pushing me to improve constantly.
Who is your role model and how have they influenced your work?
Gerard Basset (OBE, MW, MS) who tragically passed away this year was my role model. The most humble, successful and talented sommelier and restaurateur I ever knew. He taught an entire generation of sommeliers to be hospitable, to show humility and always work hard to improve.
What are your top wine recommendations for winter 2019/20?
White: Chenin – Guiberteau Saumur. We never drink enough chenin and Domaine Guiberteau makes one of the purest, most elegant expressions of this grape: mineral, precise with a generous flavour of ripe apple and quince jam.
Red: I would recommend a Rinaldi barolo 2010. I am a Nebbiolo fan and Rinaldi is my favourite producer, a traditional style with a superb floral nose and more rustic, grippy palate. Special wine. We have both on the menu at Annabel’s and I am anticipating they will be extremely popular as the temperatures drop and the fires are lit.
What item, apart from your passport, can you not travel without?
My work laptop.
Apart from Annabel’s, where is your favourite place for a nightcap in London?
I love Hide for its vibe and the wine selection – one of the biggest in London – or The Connaught, which I find cosy, smart and unpretentious, yet very luxurious with a very elevated level of service. The seclusion and comfort of the terrace at Mark’s Club makes it a great place for a post-dinner digestif, too.
Tell us about your favourite wine and dish pairing.
Simple pairings are, to me, the most exciting. A rich chardonnay from Australia with a mushroom risotto is incredible, or a glass of sauvignon blanc with a plate of asparagus; or try a Barolo with steak tartare with truffle.
What do you like to do on a day off?
I like to spend time with my family, go out for dinner, and play football.
Apart from wine, what are your biggest passions?
Football and cinema.
If you could choose anyone from today or history, who would be your ideal dinner party guest and why?
Eric Cantona, a maverick football superstar turned actor, poet, philosopher.
He has a keen interest in wines and his brutal honesty, elusive sense of humour and notorious impulsive personality would make him an exceptional guest for a fun dinner.