This month for our Wild Conversations series, we meet Julien Sarrasin, Head Sommelier at HIDE Restaurant in London and the AIS UK’s Best Sommelier 2018. Julien’s knowledge of wine and food is unparalleled, and we were fascinated to learn about his passion for the industry and what makes him tick.
How and when did you become interested in wine?
I began working in hospitality when I moved to England with a desire to perfect my English. I started out as a waiter in 2010, where I quickly gravitated toward the bar environment because of the creativity and association of flavours and texture. In 2015, I moved over to wine as I became attracted to its multi-layered and multi-dimensional world.
What is your favourite thing about working in the wine industry?
Being a host and seeing people coming through the door for a memorable experience. Ultimately, the best reward you can get is when a guest compliments you for your hospitality and attention. Hopefully, adding an extra sparkle to their dining experience will make them remember the place with a special feeling. What I love about the wine world is that you are constantly learning and making new discoveries, there is always more to learn. Everyone can learn from each other, teach each other, and share experiences with one another.
What advice would you give to somebody interested in wine, who wants to learn more?
To work in a wine bar or restaurant with a well-furnished wine list, to taste as much as possible and learn from the surrounding environment filled with professional and passionate people. For someone who doesn’t work in hospitality, going out and being guided by the sommeliers across different establishments will allow you to taste a range of different wines which vary in style and origin. Reading wine columns and articles about wine, watching videos, documentaries, traveling and exploring vineyards, meeting the people who work on the vines and make the wines, are all ways to expand your knowledge.
How about someone interested in non-alcoholic wine specifically?
The non-alcoholic offering is becoming more dynamic. More fine-dining restaurants are embracing premium non alcoholic wine, which I think they should as it becomes easier to access these higher-quality alcohol free beverage options.
How do you enjoy Wild Idol?
I like Wild Idol sparkling wine, as it retains extremely delicate bubbles, close to the sensation of the traditional “Champenoise” method of making wines. Being dry helps to enhance its purity and elegance - it’s a grown up beverage, as opposed to some others which can be excessively sweet; making it a good companion for food.
What does conscious hedonism mean to you?