Unfiltered: Caroline Fridolfsson, Clarette

Before taking on the position of head sommelier at Clarette, Caroline Fridolfsson worked as an air stewardess, based in Dubai, and later gained restaurant experience at Mexique, Chicago, before becoming a sommelier at Oblix in The Shard. Continuing on a wine-focused path, Fridolfsson joined the opening team at 67 Pall Mall, ultimately leading the events programme, before joining another newcomer to London’s wine scene, Clarette, when it opened in 2017. Formerly a Scottish pub, with leaded windows and velvet banquettes, the cosy, characterful Clarette is co-owned by Alexandra Petit Mentzelopoulos, youngest daughter of the Château Margaux dynasty, hence the fairly priced range of bottles on offer sourced direct from those hallowed cellars. Fridolfsson and her team aim for a relaxed style of service at Clarette, “with a great mixture of entry-levels wines, more serious ‘unicorn wines’ [such as Lethbridge Pinot Meunier] and everything in-between.”

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

Either Camomile tea or beer preferably something hoppy spicy like IPA. Refreshing to switch your palet away from wine.

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

Topping up 1978 Barolo Mascarello in the wrong glass making a very exclusive but very expensive Sangria for someone.

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

Don’t believe in the theory of the more expensive wines are, the better wines are – be more open minded.

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

Well, with my Chilean background I always get a kind of epiphany with super ripe Carménère dominated blends which remind me of how the wineglasses used to smell at family dinners when I was young, and my mom would let me taste wine to understand and respect it.

Which customer habit annoys you the most?

When customers want their white wine so cold that not even nitrogen gas can chill it to their taste – although it fascinates me more than annoys me that sadly people still believe the cooler the wines, the better it tastes . . .

Who is your inspiration in the gastronomic world?

I don’t have one person, but I am more and more fascinated with traditional Nordic cuisine. When I head back home [to Sweden] I mostly look for classic old Swedish recipes to eat.

What’s your ultimate food and wine pairing?

I have a huge love addiction to Chardonnay and Riesling – so either Kabinett with spicy Latin American cuisine with loads of chillies and coriander, fried plantains or well-balanced Macon / Meursault / St Aubin with pretty much any cheese on this planet (I’m totally in love with Cheese as well)

Where would your fantasy vineyard be?

Probably Champagne or Burgundy. I wouldn’t mind having a few hectares in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger to make some serious bubbles!

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

I’d still be working as a flight attendant, travelling the globe. I am a true travel bug.

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

I don’t think that there is any specific grape I can’t stand the taste of, but let’s say you would rarely find me ordering a glass of high yield entry level New World Sauvignon Blanc. I find they are just to overpowering- in your face – slightly show-off for my taste. But then I love that same grape from so many other producers in both Loire & Bordeaux. So, it all comes down to more what style and its geographical location.

What else would you like to achieve in your life?

Many things! I am a bit of a dreamer. I don’t focus to much on the goal/target if believe if you have passion and commitment it’s more about the journey and the experience you collect on that journey.

What would be your desert Island wine?

A bottle of Domaine Arnaud Ente Mersault “La Sève du Clos” – I mean if I am going to be stranded on an Island all alone, I better have something nice to drink, since I won’t have to share it with anyone.

What is your life motto?

I follow many motto’s sometimes  too many, but one that really got stuck in my heart is “allow your passion to become your purpose, and it will one day become your profession”. I think it is a motto that fits into many creative/craft professions and should be more widely recognised.

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