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03/03/2022 Franco Fortunati is the Assistant Head Sommelier at Murano, Angella Hartnett’s Michelin Star Restaurant in Mayfair, London

Franco Fortunati has been a part of the hospitality industry for 19 years and holds great knowledge about wines and spirits. Being certified with an Italian Sommelier Diploma in 2006, he has worked as a Head Sommelier for many renowned restaurants in Rome and London. He has been associated as a Sommelier with Murano, a Michelin Star Restaurant in London, for almost 7 years now.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you begin your career and how did you progress into this role?

I started in 2003 in Rome as a waiter then I did my Italian Sommelier Diploma in 2006. I moved to London in 2011 and started to work as Assistant Head Sommelier in L’Anima, a restaurant in London city. I took the position of Head Sommelier from 2012 till 2014. Later, I moved to a Michelin star restaurant City Social as an Assistant Head Sommelier and in 2016 I moved to Murano as Assistant Head Sommelier.

Define your role and the tasks involved in your role

I am an Assistant Head Sommelier. I assist the Head Sommelier during the service and help with all the duties related to wines. It includes curating the wine list, taking wine orders, tasting new wines, selecting wine by the glass, and assisting the junior team to increase their skills and background.

What questions would you ask the restaurant owner before you plan your wine sales growth strategy?

What are the results you want to achieve and find a common line between a satisfying customer and the restaurant owner.

How can suppliers work with you to drive sales?

They can offer deals for wines by the glass, help in training our staff and organize wine dinners for customers.

What are the three main things you focus on daily in your role?

1. Focus on the service

2. Make every customer happy

3. Smile even if its a busy day

What are the points you look at when selecting a new wine for your wine program?

Customer demand is a very important aspect while selecting a new wine as it becomes an easy selling point. Other than that I prefer a wine with the least environmental impact and something that is sustainable and comes from a small producer.

Define a good sommelier and what qualities you would look for when hiring one.

Someone who is keen to learn is open-minded to a new product and focuses on customer feedback.

What do you look for when you have to evaluate the effectiveness of a wine program?

Sales, Stock Rotation, Customer Feedback, and the Sommelier Team Feedback 

If you had to pick one red and one white wine as your personal best, which wines would they be?

White wine - A Loire Sauvignon Blanc and Sancerre Les Monts Damnes Francois Cotat

Red Wine - Brunello Di Montalcino Pian Dell'orino 

Is Price = Quality in Wines? What’s a value-for-money wine that you would recommend?

Not necessary, I think that sometimes you tend to overpay for a wine just for the Producer’s Name or the Appellation 

The best and worst part of your job

The best part would be the continuous research for a New Product and the Producer. While the worst part is when the customer returns a bottle of wine that you have suggested. 

Any favorite food and wine pairing suggestions

Fiorentina Beef Steak with Brunello Di Montalcino 

Which varietals or countries are in demand these days for your business

Sauvignon, Nebbiolo, Pinot Nero, Sangiovese as grape varieties. Countries in demand are Italy, France, and mostly the New World.

Hot Dinners 

Source: Hot Dinners

Header Image Source: The Sommelier Collective

Interviewed By Prithvi Nagpal, Editor & Sommelier, Beverage Trade Network

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