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In Talks with Claire Paparazzo, Sommelier at Shun & Le Jardiner NYC

Photo for: In Talks with Claire Paparazzo, Sommelier at Shun & Le Jardiner NYC

24/08/2020 "To trust your palate and to listen to the guest" is the most important skill for a sommelier, says Claire.

Sommelier Business sat down with Claire Paparazzo for a QnA. Here's how it went:

I have been living and working in NYC for 26 years - I came here originally to study acting and supported myself working in restaurants the entire time, in 2002 I decided to get my Sommelier certificate and have been lucky enough to work in the wine business ever since then.

Your current place of work / Last place of work

Shun & Le Jardiner NYC

How long have you been in the drinks industry?

18 years

How according to you has the role of the sommelier evolved, especially now during COVID times?

Yes, the role has changed. Along with many of my colleagues, we sit and wait to see if restaurants will reopen for indoor dining. To keep active and relevant a lot of what we do has been moved to an online format: weather it be Zoom meetings/ wine tastings, or Instagram live interviews or blog posts. That seems to be the norm as many of us are still unemployed.

What are some of the most important skills for a sommelier?

To trust your palate and to listen to the guest.

What you look for when you plan to buy wine for your business? 

I look for well-made wines in all categories: whether it is something perhaps more obscure that I like, or a wine that is a solid, but not my taste but I know I can sell it to a guest. I try to have a wide range of styles so there is something for everyone.

Where and what you drink when not working?

Currently a Kabinett style Riesling from Germany, but my favorite grape is Chenin Blanc from Loire Valley, enjoying this at home due to social distancing guidelines.

Your favorite places to get happy hour deals?

Subject Bar 188 Suffolk Street NYC

What are the new wines to taste now?

Greek wines or from Jura France

Tips for other sommeliers

Listen to what the guest wants; it is not about you.

What do you enjoy the most about this job?

The interaction with the guests, the storytelling and the wine that connects you to a place and time.

Tips on how you can sell wine to your restaurant customers

I usually have 3 price points in mind from low to high to see what may strike a cord with your guests.

Tips on how restaurants can market wines to drive wine sales

It is good to support and promote your Sommelier's, Wine Directors & Beverage Directors because that can help draw a crowd and in the end help wine sales.

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