Unfiltered: Sandra Bein, Mere

Sandra Bein, head sommelier at Monica Galetti’s Mere restaurant, grew up in her parent’s hotel in Austria. After studying for a degree in hospitality at catering college, she worked in various four-star hotels in Tyrol where she developed a passion for wine and subsequently trained as a sommelier. She later moved to London, where she has worked at Michelin level for the past four years. Here, she reveals how she once shared a bottle of 1916 Chateau Climens with a customer, a dislike for orange wine, and love of Riesling with scallops.

What’s your vintage?

1989.

What’s your go-to drink at the end of a long day?

Gin and tonic with loads of ice.

What’s your most embarrassing front-of-house moment?

Actually I’m sure I had a couple of them but I think I’ve managed to forget them successfully.

If you could give your younger self advice when starting out as a somm, what would it be?

Study, study and study, make notes/keep track of everything you taste and ask as many questions as possible.

Has a wine ever given you an epiphany? Which one?

Yes indeed. One of our regular customers once brought a bottle of wine from his private cellar for dinner. It was a 1916 Chateau Climens, Barsac which was absolutely incredible, full of freshness and elegance, and considering the history an absolute privilege to have tasted it.

Which customer habit annoys you the most?

When they arrive at the restaurant, sit down at the table and the first thing they do is turn the wine glass up side down, just to show us that they won’t be drinking any wine at all.

Who is your inspiration in the gastronomic world?

Silvano Giraldin and David Galetti.

What’s your ultimate food and wine pairing?

I just love scallops and I’m a huge fan of Riesling so I guess that’s one of my favourites.

Where would your fantasy vineyard be?

Either on the Hermitage in France or in New Zealand.

If you weren’t a sommelier, what would you be doing?

I think I’d still be working somewhere in Austria as a waitress in a hotel in Tyrol.

Which wine (grape/style) do you find it impossible to get along with?

I’m afraid to say so but I’m not a big fan of orange wine.

Who is the most memorable customer you’ve ever served?

Ha, good question! I’ve served a few famous people so far – which was a great experience – but I think the most memorable customers are the ones who are actually people with loads of influence in this Industry but also the most down to earth and kind people you can imagine.

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