Sommelier at Bonhams Restaurant, Charlotte Logan-Jones has more than 10 years experience in wine, having previously worked as a sommelier at Bibendum and also travelled extensively around the European and Australian wine regions. Currently, she manages the 200-strong wine list at auction house Bonhams’ restaurant, working closely with chef Tom Kemble to create bespoke wine pairing menus. Here, she elaborates on her experience working as a young sommelier in London, praises Rick Stein for his “dreamy and romantic” approach to food and shares what it was like to serve actor Michael Caine.
What’s your go-to drink at the end of a long day?
I like Italian reds to help me unwind after a long day. Barbera is perfect for that.
What’s your most embarrassing front-of-house moment?
During my first week as junior sommelier at Bibendum Restaurant, I was serving drinks to a table of 10 businessmen in suits and a glass of Guinness toppled over and fell right into the lap of one of the gents. I ran off the floor in floods of tears, and they felt so bad for me they actually asked me to join in with them for a glass of Champagne to calm me down!
If you could give your younger self advice when starting out as a somm, what would it be?
Have more confidence in your knowledge when faced with a tricky customer who is challenging you.
Has a wine every given you an epiphany? Which one?
It was a 1993 Chardonnay, from Best’s Great Western, Australia. I had never tasted a wine with such depth of flavour and complexity. The aroma was mesmerising, fruity yet savoury, and kept me wanting to go back for more.
Which customer habit annoys you the most?
Mixing good wine with soft drinks (i.e Bordeaux and Coke, or Marsannay and orange juice…that one made me cringe!)
Who is your inspiration in the gastronomic world?
Rick Stein. He has such a dreamy and romantic approach to food, cooking and travel, and while he is very experienced, I feel he has also remained very relevant to viewers of all ages and backgrounds.
What’s your ultimate food and wine pairing?
Asparagus with beurre noisette hollandaise and mature white Pessac-Leognan from Bordeaux. The grassiness of the Sauvignon brings out the vegetal spring-like flavour of the asparagus, and the nuttiness in the wine that has come from barrel-ageing complements the hollandaise.
Where would your fantasy vineyard be?
I love rugged, mountainous landscapes, and for me there was no other wine region that I have visited that has the magical beauty as the Douro Valley in Portugal.
If you weren’t a sommelier, what would you be doing?
There is no other job I would rather have than being a sommelier, but having studied Media Arts at university, I could have gone down the route of a career in TV production.
Which wine (grape/style) do you find it impossible to get along with?
I honestly am very open to tasting all wine styles, and always evaluate them from an objective perspective. If I had to choose, I would say Txakoli from the Basque country is a little too acidic for my personal taste.
Who is the most memorable customer you’ve ever served?
Michael Caine was one of my regular customers at Bibendum, and the first time I was worried about being quite intimidated by his incredible celebrity status, but he has always been absolutely charming and more down to earth than many other customers I have served over the years.
What else would you like to achieve in your life?
I would love to run my own wine bar, with a great chef cooking simple, wine-friendly dishes.
What would be your desert Island wine?
Mature Madeira, with 30 or years of age. These are some of the most complex wines I have tasted, and with a length on the finish that can seem never-ending.
What is your life motto?
Eat, drink, be merry.