Barcelona-born Andrés Rangel initially wanted to become a professional rugby player, before later changing course to follow his passion for wine. He worked for a fine wine trade distributor in Spain after studying to be sommelier, deciding to move to London after almost three years. He continued to work in the trade, taking a role at Amathus, before switching to hospitality to take on the role of sommelier at Sketch. He joined Mayfair Indian restaurant Gymkhana in 2018 and was promoted to the role of assistant head sommelier last year. Rangel won the Sud de France UK Sommelier of the Year in 2019 and has recently completed his WSET Diploma.
How did you arrive at the position you are in today?
My first job in the wine industry was in Barcelona with Vila Viniteca, after studying for a sommelier degree. I decided to come to London looking for new opportunities and focus on my WSET Diploma. I started working for Amathus before moving to Sketch, where I gained a lot of knowledge. Today, I am working as assistant head sommelier at Gymkhana.
I’ve worked in different sides of the wine industry, on trade sales, wine retail and as a sommelier. Being a sommelier, you have different opportunities and work in a more dynamic environment.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
My favourite part of the job is to share my passion for wine with guests, staff, friends and family.
What’s the biggest misconception about the role of a sommelier?
Sometimes we are seen as an intimidating figure inside the restaurant, like someone who is going to take all your money only with wine. In reality, we just want to create a great experience.
What’s your go-to drink at the end of a long day?
Definitely a fresh pint!
What’s your most embarrassing front-of-house moment?
When I was a rookie, I dropped a bottle of wine all over a diner. I still still can see her face as she felt the cold wine spilling down her back.
If you could give your younger self advice when starting out, what would it be?
Challenge yourself everyday and enjoy what you do. Do it with passion.
What bottle sparked your love of wine?
My love for wine started at home, thanks to my father, he has been always a wine lover and gave sips of wine since I was a child. We always have a bottle of Montsant in the house.
Which customer habit annoys you the most?
There are no annoying customer habits, there are just challenging guests!
Who is your inspiration in the gastronomic world?
I am very inspired by Ferran Centelles, who was the sommelier at El Bulli. One of the best sommeliers in Spain, nowadays he specialises in Spanish wines for Jancis Robinson MW.
What’s your ultimate food and wine pairing?
Fried and salted Marcona almonds and Mojama with La Panesa Fino Especial Emilio Hidalgo. So simple, but so complex. Magic.
Where would your fantasy vineyard be?
A vineyard with views between the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees.
If you weren’t working in the restaurant industry, what would you be doing and why?
Before to start working as sommelier, my passion was rugby. It is still one of my passions, but I had to prioritise. I would love to continue playing and dedicating more time to it.
Which wine do you find it impossible to get along with?
I don’t find any wine impossible to get along, some wines are more difficult to understand or not suitable for my palate.
Who is the most memorable customer you’ve ever served and why?
There are many memorable customers and I wouldn’t like to choose one in particular. The most memorable experience for me is every time I choose a bottle of wine from my cellar and open it for my family and friends.
What makes you most proud to be working in London?
London is probably the most challenging city in Europe for a sommelier. Competitions, tastings, events, trends, and a very dynamic wine scene full of opportunities and challenges.
What’s on your wine bucket list?
Let’s say my dream bucket list:
1961 La Chapelle Hermitage Paul Jaboulet Aîné
1970 Jurançon Sec Clos Joliette
2007 Domaine de La Grange des Pères
2000 Hermitage Domaine Jean-Louis Chave
1993 L’Ermita Alvaro Palacios
And many more…
Finally, what wine and paired plate would you pick from your list and why?
Tandoori masala lamb chops with 2009 Côte-Rôtie Ampodium Domaine René Rostaing. The harmony of intensities paris well with this very rich dish. The smoky tandoori flavours and the masala spices are beautifully balanced with the dark fruits, spices and meaty flavours of the Côte-Rôtie.