Their job is not just to be knowledgeable of the wines on offer in an establishment, but in fact encompasses a wide range of duties to ensure the guests get the best wine suited to their meal and experience.
This involves the procurement of the perfect wines for a food menu, allowing the two to be paired as if they were made for each other.
Sergio Dossantos, our Head Sommelier, has been with us for almost two years. Having previously worked at many renowned establishments his knowledge and expertise is second to none.
Here, we talk with Sergio about his extensive experience and passion for wine.
How did you become a Sommelier?
My first job was as a chef but I began to realise that, although I enjoyed cooking, there was something else about the trade, even more fascinating – Wine.
I was converted whilst working at the Pic, a Restaurant in my hometown of Lorient in Brittany. After working as a chef I moved jobs, every couple of years, mainly in Michelin Starred restaurants close to vineyards, including the two starred Hotel Million in Alberville, Savoie and the Hotel Majestic Villa des Lys, in Cannes.
I moved to England in 2003, I started working at Chewton Glen Hotel, I then went to Jersey in 2007 to the Atlantic Hotel until 2014 when I joined Cliveden House and now I am thoroughly enjoying my time at the Montagu Arms Hotel.
I now have a level 4 diploma in WSET (The Wine & Spirit Education Trust) and acclaimed a diploma of Sommelier Caviste in France, plus I was also a semi finalist in the “UK Sommelier of the Year” in 2006, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
What does your role involve?
The main role of a Sommelier is to advice or guide guests on their wine choices and to encourage them to try something new.
It is also important to maintain and improve the standard of wines we offer, and continue to train and improve on staff knowledge.
During their New Forest break, guests of the Montagu Arms can join me for a wine tasting session sampling my wine of the month and find out what makes the perfect pairing.
For our corporate clients, a great team incentive or reward is a whiskey tasting session in the traditional and atmospheric setting of the Montagu Arms Hotel. What a wonderful way to say thank you to your loyal staff.
What is your favourite wine?
I love Burgundy. Burgundy is maybe the one vineyard of France that lives and breathes wine, if you really want to know what wine and vineyard means then Burgundy is the place for you.
Even though my roots are in Brittany, most Frenchmen are fiercely loyal to the wines made down the road whilst they were growing up or in their uncle’s, neighbour’s or grandfather’s vineyard, but Brittany is not known for its vineyards.
So, my upbringing probably provided a wider variety of wines, hence the eclectic range on the wine list.
What are your favourite dishes and pairing wines from the Terrace Menu?
My favourites would have to be:
Honey Roast Breast of Free Range Duck with a Tarte Fine of Caramelised Endive, Celeriac Puree and Lightly Peppered Sauce.
Paired with Pinot Noir, Bolney Estate, West Sussex
Grilled Day Boat ‘Fish of the Day’ with Sprouting Broccoli, Toasted Almonds, Crispy Oyster and Verjus Butter Sauce
Paired with Bacchus Reserve, Winbirri Vineyards, East Anglia
Aside from wine, what are your other passions and hobbies?
I am a runner, I love going running in the new forest and competition Cross Country, 10km, half Marathon and I did the London Marathon in 2006.
What is your personal adage?
I am a great believer in food and wine matching to enhance the dining experience.
I love developing wine lists and creating a living wine list, which will evolve continuously, showing wine characteristics of each region and how they differ from each other. Selecting only the best examples of wine from emerging wine locations, to the more traditional and classic areas.