Where did you grow up?
I grew up at Roztocze, charming region in the south-eastern Poland. It is upland, full of forests, lakes, rivers, small villages and cities. It seems to be detached from the rest of the world. People from there produces great honeys, white cheeses, rape seed oils, linseed oils, sausages – everything organic, full of flavours.
What did you aspire to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a lawyer. Talking was something I have been always good at. I‘ve liked atmosphere in court – in movies it looked intriguingly. Minds duel.
How did you find your way to into the world of wine and spirits?
I was a student in Warsaw and I needed some extra money. I finished bartender course and started working in a club. After some time I have continued my bartender career in a restaurants. One day I decided to move from bar to floor. From waiter to sommelier assistant, to sommelier and head sommelier. My first job with wine was 4 years ago.
What do you think makes a good sommelier?
Well, I think attributes for different occupations/ professions are similar. You need to be patient, work hard, try to be better, spend free time on studying, working and probably most important thing – you need to love what you do, that need to be your passion, your mission.
Do you think that more people are entering this industry and why do you think that is?
More people are entering wine, beer, spirits industry because societies are richer. People want to spend money and time for art, movies, travels, culture in general and our industry is a part of it. More restaurants have decent wine list, offer more beers, spirits, ciders so they need professional crew to present it, sell it. More wine bars, shops with beers, ciders, spirits make this happen. Access to information, books, maps and people is easier now, that helps too.
You took part in the Gaggenau International Sommelier Awards 2016, can you tell us a bit about what was involved in the competition?
Eliminations had a 2 part – test with 25 open questions and short movie presenting ourselves with answering few questions about sommelier profession, our personal view on it. In Vienna we had to describe 3 wines in blind tasting and tell what is 2 spirits – also in a blind tasting. There was also popular task with wine list – so we needed to correct it. Last competition for first day was quick Questions & Answers. Second day we had a cupping so describing coffee – aromas and taste.
How did you feel when you were announced as one of the finalists of the competition?
It is a great experience; Gaggenau is a brand that shows new quality level, very prestigious. Jury also was truly professional. I was really happy to take a part in that kind of comparison, meet fantastic sommeliers from all over the world.
How did you feel when you were announced as winning Bronze in the competition and what does that mean to you?
Bronze always shows two sides. One is that you are in group of the best already, second that there is more to accomplish, that you need to work a little bit harder. Stimulating for further improvement but also this is a big award for your everyday work. I was very happy.
What interesting trends/themes are going on in the wine world?
Natural wines, orange, trying to express place and grape. Working in Scandinavia I can see how important it is, how interesting and diverse. It is not curiosity, it is serious wine category you need to think about when you make your wine list. Many people, myself including drink that kind of wines also solo, without food.
What are your FOUR indispensable wine collection favourites and a pairing suggestion?
Makovicza Szent Tamas from Budahazy in Tokaji so Furmint with residual sugar, high acidity, ripe, yellow fruits and touch of honey, some vintages show botrytis character. Marinated mackerel with parsley and chilli oil and fresh green beans, umami gel.
Terroir Champagne Fleurie Vieilles Vignes, Domain de la Grand Cour. One of my favourite Beaujolais, racy, acidic with red berries ,flowers, red pepper piquancy, burgundy in style. Duck and marjoram dumplings with redcurrant sauce.
Vinhas Velhas Branco, Luis Pato, Beirras in Portugal. Matured wines are similar to the greatest chenin blancs from Loire. Mineral, salty, nutty with white flowers, baked apples, spices. I pair it with dish from my area in Poland, it is very local – pie with white cheese, buckwheat, potatoes and bacon or crunchy pieces of lard.
Rich, very sweet, oxidative, fig and caramel, often with volatile acidity Vin Santo from Felsina, Tuscany. Again I like to drink it with case poppy seed cake, orange zest, gingerbread ice creams. Hedonism!
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