Unfiltered: Gaetano Giangaspero, City Social

Gaetano Giangaspero started working in wine in 2006 in his native Italy where he was involved in the opening of Hotel Villa Cordevigo Wine Relais. In 2012, he joined the Luxury Cruise Company working as part of the sommelier team on Marina vessel in five on board restaurants. In 2013 he moved to London, taking up his first head sommelier role at Orrery in 2014, before moving to the Galvin group and Annabel’s. He now heads up the wine programme at City Social.

How did you arrive at the position you are in today?

The recipe to success is hard work, planning goals step by step and also a bit of luck on the way helps too.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

The interaction with my customers. There’s so many things we can learn just from speaking with them.

What’s the biggest misconception about the role of a sommelier?

When people forget  that we are there to offer the best advice and service possible, and not just to sell wine.

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

Usually beer, but if I’m free the following day, I wouldn’t say no to a good spirit.

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

When I suggested a wine and I realised afterwards that we had run out. That’s when you lose the guest’s trust.

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

Start from the bottom and learn the hard way. Doing it this way, you will grow faster and succeed at every step.

What bottle sparked your love of wine?

When I joined London I fell in love with reds from Burgundy in particular. I’ll never forget the taste of Gevrey Chambertin 1er Aux Combottes Domaine Dujac 2002.

Which customer habit annoys you the most?

When they use the Vivino App to find ratings and prices.

Who is your inspiration in the gastronomic world?

The late Gualtiero Marchesi.

What’s your ultimate food and wine pairing?

We’ve got a new starter: slow-cooked egg, potato, truffle, mushroom and parsley velouté, all smoked under a cloche. I pair this with a glass of barrel-fermented Chardonnay or dry Furmint.

Where would your fantasy vineyard be?

On mount Everest, if we carry on like this, we’ll get there!

If you weren’t working in the restaurant industry, what would you be doing and why?

Anything that makes me smile and lets me feel that I work for myself.

Which wine do you find it impossible to get along with?

In terms of grape varieties, Pinotage. In terms of wines, I believe that badly-made, funky natural wines sometimes go too far.

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

Thomas Henriot, he’s humble and open to share knowledge with anyone.

What makes you most proud to be working in London?

Having the opportunity to express my views on wine selection on the wine list.

What’s on your wine bucket list?

I’ve just started to buy wines at auction: small things just to try and make some profit. Last week I bought a case of Sassicaia 2016, just to be on the safe side.

Finally, what wine and paired plate would you pick from your list and why?

Lobster tortellini, lemon gel, yuzu caviar and bisque with Savennierès Château d’Epiré ‘Hu Boyou’ 2012. Luc Bizard make this unique Chenin Blanc, rich enough to balance the lobster meat and bisque, and gently oaked with a lovely minerality.

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