Xavier Rousset on getting the best from your sommelier
This show was published 20 June 2008
Xavier Rousset is an award-winning sommelier and co-owner of Texture, the restaurant he opened in 2007 with chef Agnar Sverrison. We talk with him about restaurant wine lists and his tips for getting the best from your sommelier.
Xavier, aged 18, wrote to Gerard Basset, the well known sommelier and co-founder of Hotel du Vin, asking to work for him. Gerard phoned him back and invited him to come to England to work before sending him to sommelier school in the Loire.
At his restaurant, Texture, Zavier is responsible for the wine list, bar list and wine service, he also has an assistant or commis-sommelier. The key thing for customers is to talk to the sommelier and get recommendations. A good wine list should have diversity, a range of flavours and styles and a balance of price ranges. If the wine list is good it tells you the restaurant also takes care with the food.
Restaurant mark ups on wine are anywhere from 2x to 5x the retail price, depending on the level of service provided, quality/quantity of wine service staff and even the glassware. At the low end of wine service they may just open the bottle for you and leave it for you to pour. Good quality glassware is very light and has a thin rim.
Decanting wines lets them breathe so Zavier always offers to decant both white and red wines, not just to remove sediment in older red wiens. Good idea to order your red wine at the start so that the red can be opened and decanted at the start of meal in time for the main course arriving.
Try to tell a sommelier your budget or at least give them a hint so that you don't have any surprises when the bill comes!
If a wine is faulty or not to your liking Zavier will replace the wine. In his view, a restaurant should always replace a wine if the customer believes it to be faulty, regardless of whether the customer is right or not. Zavier tastes all the wine he serves before he serves it to check it is technically correct.
The UK Wine Show is sponsored by ThirtyFifty. Our team of wine tasters are busy entertaining and educating UK consumers to help them get the most out of wine.
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