5 Creative Spins on the Traditional Sommelier
Seasoned sommeliers (professional wine stewards) have become a staple in the realm of fine dining, and for good reason. They serve an integral function in the industry, building wine lists, leading tastings, educating guests of various varietals and recommending the perfect pairing for any palate. But recently, creative players in hospitality have been taking the position to new heights. Forget wine―guests of boutique properties, massive resorts and even cruise ships can now take advantage of sommeliers that specialize in a diverse range of niches, from tea to olive oil.
If you have a sweet tooth, head to Shangri-La's Mactan Island Resort and Spa, Cebu in the Philippines. The property features not one, but two chocolate sommeliers. Cacao plants were first introduced to the Philippines by Spanish colonialists from Mexico and have been cultivated there ever since. Guests can meet with Amelyn and Sheena in the resort's Chocolate Garden to learn about the traditional methods of transforming cacao beans to chocolate (while consuming plenty of it along the way).
The Four Seasons Palm Beach in sunny South Florida recently debuted a fabulous brand new look, including the opening of Florie's helmed by celebrated chef Mauro Colagreco. Here, guests can meet with Jessica Altieri, a certified wine and water sommelier. Her passion for water is unmatched as she explains the nuances between bottled water from prized regions all over the world, and how different factors like minerality can affect the taste. You'd be astonished by how much you can learn during one of her tastings.
Kevin Doyle is in charge of overseeing the 90-year tradition of afternoon tea at the Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. Using his extensive knowledge of tea and tea service, he guides guests through seasonal-driven tastings, with delicious selections like Raspberry Nectar and Green Mango Peach. He's also more than happy to answer any questions and educate participants on the time-honored tradition while guests enjoy the ambiance of the resort's elegant sunroom.
At Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa in Mexico, tequila is serious business. Boasting more than 180 different varieties (including CasaManga, the resort's own label), guests can request a session with Audrey Formisano, the dedicated Tequilier. Her job includes educating people on the spirit's rich history and setting up tastings based on each visitor's personal preference.
Olive Oil Sommelier
Guests sailing aboard Oceania Cruises' Riviera have the rare treat of meeting with an olive oil sommelier at Toscana, the ship's chic Italian restaurant. One of the trained connoisseurs will come table side and present a curated olive oil pairing based on their collection of the best bottles sourced from famed regions like Tuscany, Puglia and Sicily. Passengers are often surprised to learn that they can taste the difference between the options, which range from subtly fruity to bold and grassy.
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