Sommelier Sessions with Francesco Benvenuto

31 Oct 2016
3 min read
FOUR heads to the Swiss mountains to speak to Michelin Starred IGNIV’s head sommelier, Francesco Benvenuto, about pairing fine wines with fine dining…

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Neuss. Neuss is close to Düsseldorf (Germany).

What did you aspire to be when you grew up?

My dream was always to come to Switzerland because I love the alps and I want to work in the alps.

How did you find your way to becoming a sommelier?

With my education as a restaurant expert I made my first experience. So my interest in wine increased and it was a pleasure for me to learn more and more about wine and his peculiarity.

What does it entail to be a sommelier at restaurant Igniv at Grand Resort Bad Ragaz?

First I am really happy to be part of the IGNIV-Team. It is a fantastic team. Besides I am very lucky that the IGNIV by Andreas Caminada is integrated in the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz. This allows us to have a wide selection of wine, which is also nice for our guests. However a large selection of wine is also demanding and you have to know everything about the various wines and which wine suits best to our sharing-experience.

What do you think makes a good sommelier?

I think you have to be openfor new experiences and the unknown, so you can make new discoveries. For me it is also important that I can taste a lot of different wines and can share and discuss my impressions with colleagues, winegrowers and also our guests. I live and learn and, furthermore, we should polish up our acquired knowledge again and again.

Do you think that more people are entering this industry and why do you think is?

Honestly, I don’t know. But I think that the interest in wine has generally increased. I notice that in our restaurant too. Our guests have a good to very good understanding of wine, some of them I would consider real wine connoisseurs.So it is very important that you have the competence in what you do and how you can explain it. So it is a great challenge for me as a sommelier to create additional value for every guest.

Can you tell us FOUR delicious wines and a food pairing from the restaurant?

At the IGNIV you have to consider the whole composition of the dish. It comes as far as 30 dishes on one table. So it is important to serve a wine which fits with all this various tastes and flavours. Because we have a fine-dining-sharing-experience we recommend often a double magnum to our guests. It could be Roman Hermann Pinot Noir Grand Maître 2013, Georg Fromm Pinot Noir Schöpfi 2014 or Martin Donatsch Pinot Noir Passion 2011. Also part of our concept are Champagne:Frédèric Savart, Agrapart & Fils, Jacques Selosse, Henri Giraud.

What interesting trends/themes are going on in the world of wine?

We have a special focus on the wines of Bündner Herrschaft. Here we notice that the white wine is gaining popularity. Also natural wines are very popular.

What are your FOUR indispensable wine collection favourites?

This is a very difficult question.It depends very much in what kind of mood I am, where I am, and of course what I dish it should go with.

If you could open any bottle of wine, no price limit, which would it be and why?

Domaine de la Romanee Conti, Romanee Conti1990. For me the best of all Pinot Noirs is theRomanee Conti. I tasted already a vintage of 2010, 2011 and 2012. But no older one – that would be great if I can do this.

Grand Hotel Bad Ragaz


7310 Bad Ragaz


+41 81 303 30 30