Sommelier sessions with Ruth Spivey

08 Aug 2016
2 min read
Model turned award-winning sommelier, FOUR speaks to Ruth Spivey about her time at Michelin-starred hotspot, Arbutus, and what one can expect at her ‘Wine Car Boot’…

Where did you grow up?

Hertfordshire. Not especially exciting but very nice.

What did you aspire to be when you grew up?

Not a sommelier, that’s for sure! I was really sporty so at some point Idefinitely wanted to beWimbledon Champion or an Olympic athlete. Needless to say, neither of thoseambitions came tofruition. Other than that I remember wanting to have a B&B or little hotel, which I suppose isn’t too far removed fromreality. And mostly based around my desire to have a bighouse somewhere beautiful, filled with food, wine and friends. I’d be quite happy with that.

How did you find your way to into the world of wine and spirits?

I’dbeen modelling full time for 10 years – it gets very boring after that long! – and wasdesperate to start a career that was based on my passions rather thanserendipity. Wine was a hobby, I suppose – i’d beengoingto tastings and reading about the subject since my early twenties, so that coupled with a love of food, cooking andrestaurants made the career move an easy decision. I just plunged in, taking a job at one of myfavouriterestaurants and went from there, buildingexperience and starting the professional wine exams.

What does it entail to be head sommelier atCraft London’s restaurant? ​

I’m in a team of one (!) so I look after all things wine -fromwriting and updatingand the list in accordance with the seasons,training and hopefully inspiring the floorstaff, choosing the wine pairings for our setand tasting menus, hosting dinner and tastings… it’s great that it’s so varied. I am less on the floor than I used to be, but obviously serving and sellingwine to guests is thecrux of the job. We aim tohave a relaxed, entertaining yet informative approach withpeople so they can have the bestexperience of the food and wine.

You recently won GQ’s BestSommelier of the Year, can you tell us a bit about what was involved inthe​competition?

Ididn’t have to do anything at all,which was nice! It’s more of a recognition award,rather than a competition involving tasks. There’s a comprehensive panel of judgesfrom the food and drinkindustry who nominate people they think deserving of the award, then they vote on who wins. I think that’s how it worksanyway. Itwas very flattering – and unexpected – to win. All in all there was a topselection ofpeoplenominated across all categories. There’s a lot of talent at themoment in London, it’s wonderful to be considered part of that by some of the leading lights of ourindustry.

How did you feel when you were crowned sommelier of the year?

Atthe exact moment it happened I felt a mild fear of falling off my heels, followed by an overwhelming urge to get off the stage.I was flatteredbut alsosomewhatbaffled, as I’veneverreallythoughtof myself asSommelier.

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

Naturalwines, orange wines, appreciation of traditional production methods. Small producers, wines ofprovenanceand the appreciation of the old world isfinally back. The‘classic’ regions. Designer glassware – Zalto from Austria have gained huge popularity. New andimprovedstorageand dispensing methods -quality bag-in-box, wine ontap, and myfavourite -the Bagnum. A magnum in a bag, agenius invention by Le Grappin who make delicious wine in Burgundy.

What are your FOUR indispensable wine collection favourites and a pairing suggestion?

Muscadetwith crab,Rhone Syrah with a roast,Riesling to startandfinish and Nebbiolo with everything else.

Find out more about Ruth and her ‘Wine Car Boot’ events here…