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How I became a certified sommelier in my spare time and ended up meeting the wine elite in Hong Kong

14 May 2019 | by editor

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Student Ambassador, Raimondo Lanzieri took advantage of one of the many extra-curricular opportunities available at Les Roches and became a qualified sommelier. What followed was a wealth of internship offers, F&B training at a Michelin-starred restaurant, and influential connections with the powerhouses of oenology, as Raymond explains.

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Since the Greek empire wine has played an important role in society. Historically exchanged for weapons and metals, nowadays it represents one of the most enjoyable alcoholic beverages to be consumed in any occasion.

From fine dining restaurants to room service, it is a primary source of revenue in any Food and Beverage department of the hospitality industry. Therefore, having knowledge about this beverage is a crucial factor in order to succeed in this industry, and being able to understand and analyze what is in your glass can represent an important plus in high positions such as Food and Beverage Manager or General Manager.

Entering a new world

During my studies at Les Roches I had the opportunity to be involved in extra-curricular activities such as the sommelier course and the wine club. These gave me the opportunity to learn and understand a new and interesting world which I found extremely helpful during my first internship at The Ritz Carlton, Hong Kong.

In my second semester I decided to undertake the first sommelier course ever in school, divided into three different modules: viticulture and vinification, wines of the world and, finally, service. The overall course, which takes place every weekend at school, gave me the basic knowledge, from the different grapes to aging wine, the French grand and premier crus, Italian super Tuscans, Barolos and Amarones and the new world wines such as Napa’s Cabernet Sauvignon Australia’s new types of Chardonnay.

For a Food and Beverage driven student, becoming a certified sommelier has been the biggest step I have taken since I joined Les Roches and by far the most useful for my future career.

Michelin-starred training

Having such an important certification on my CV meant an easier access to internship. Between several offers I decided to sign for F&B training at the Michelin-starred restaurant of Tosca in the most iconic hotel in Hong Kong, The Ritz Carlton. During those six months I had the opportunity to taste the best wines of the world, putting my knowledge into practice while helping the sommeliers in the wine cellars, serving wines and attending meetings with the most recognized French and Italian wine exporters.

I also had the opportunity to network with such important wine critics as James Suckling and wine producers such as Ornellaia, Antinori, Chateau Pichon Baron, Chateau Pavie, Marchesi di Barolo, and Banfi to name some.

On-campus wine club

Returning for my BBA4, an interesting opportunity came up with the wine club organized entirely by students for wine lovers. When every Wednesday we can talk and taste wines from specific regions of the world. I am currently part of the organizational team, which turns out to be an extraordinary experience. Having the opportunity to keep training myself and explore interesting wines with passionate people allows me to improve my knowledge, even in a school environment.

Les Roches is offering me such great opportunities to grow in any aspect of my life and it is thanks to teachers like Vincenzo Aiosi and the students of the school that I can proudly say I am a certified sommelier and wine lover. And by the way, as Salvador Dali said: “He who knows how to taste does not drink wine but savors secrets”.

 

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