Thursday, September 13, 2012

Befriend a Sommelier

Almost a decade ago, I moved from Brunswick to Southbank and all the culinary delights that came with the location. One evening I strolled into Number 8 Restaurant and Wine Bar and took a riverside seat. It was early in the week, early in the evening and I was very fortunate to meet David Nichols, head Sommelier. I then confessed that I did not know how to order French or European wines.

David's answer?
  • ALWAYS consult the Sommelier staff
  • READ the on-menu recommendations
Some of my beloved would probably say that I have taken that advice a fraction to far- however I have come to enjoy wines with food so much more that it has been totally worth it. During Mr Nichols tenure I would have visited Number 8 somewhere between fifty and one hundred times. (You'll have to ask Visa for the exact number).

Christmas with my brother, Liam
I have visited for after work drinks, boozy and non-boozy lunches, birthdays, first dates, last dates, career celebrations and even many Christmas day meals. I have sent clients there, taken friends there and told complete strangers to visit. Walking in to Number 8 is exactly like slipping in to your favourite comfy jeans.

In all that time, I have rarely had the same wine twice. I engage the services of the Sommelier staff on hand, I express mood, occasion and food preferences. Sometimes I have not met the staff member before but I know that to enhance my dining experience I need to be open and honest with them so that they may do the job the are trained to do. The job that they are passionate about. The task they absolutely delight in- if you let them.

This year, Tim Stow, previously of PM24 has taken the helm as Head Sommelier at Number 8. I haven't met Tim yet, but I certainly plan to. Every restaurant I visit now, I seek the advice of the Wine Stewards or Sommeliers. No matter how many times you visit, they will know the food and wine intimately. They will know about seasonal variances and Vintage conditions. Tap into that knowledge and have the best possible dining experience that is on offer.

Riverside at Crown, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank.
For Bookings phone: 03)9292 7899

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