Sommelier Business

Educating Sommeliers Worldwide.

By Beverage Trade Network



Interview With The Best Sommelier in the World

Photo for: Interview With The Best Sommelier in the World

12/02/2019 Journey with Paolo Basso - Best Sommelier in the World to Wine Producer.

Paolo Basso became the ASI Best Sommelier in the World in 2013 after coming second in the same competition three times 2000, 2007, 2010, the latter of which he was crowned Best Sommelier in Europe. He has had wide experience in one and two Michelin star restaurants. He has now turned his attention towards wine production in his home country of Switzerland. He shared his valuable perspective as a student, winner and wine lover with

‘Best Sommelier in the World 2013’ – what does it take to win such a wonderful award?

A lot of lucidities to be aware of your attitude to study, because there is much to study. Then a lot of time to do it, perseverance to dedicate all the available time of private life to this project and last but not least a budget that must be allocated to support studies and tastings.

What inspired you to become a sommelier?

When I was at the hotel management school and I discovered that wine was the most complex and difficult subject to understand. This seduced me and I began to deepen my knowledge of the topic, discovering that in wine there is nature, science, geography, history, traditions, culture and a bit of mystery.

Can you describe the greatest wine and wine experiences that you have ever had?

The best wine I've ever tasted was a 1989 Château Haut Brion in magnum, tasted in 2014. The best wine experience was a visit to the Tuscan estate of Isole e Olena where I learned much about viticulture.

What is the role of a sommelier in your opinion?

The Sommelier must be a reference point for the customer in the selection of wines. This is what the customer asks us to do: to be quality filters that give them the assurance of having wines of a high-quality level corresponding to their price range. If we make a mistake in this mission by recommending wines with faults, then, in ten years time the profession will no longer exist.

What is the career path for a sommelier?

Everyone chooses the path that suits them best. However, I would say that the sommelier curriculum must contain at least ten years of work in high-level fine dining restaurants. These are places to learn food and wine matching whilst understanding the psychology of the consumer. These are essential experiences that other wine-related training courses do not offer.


You also produce wine in Ticino, Switzerland is there ever conflict or tension between producer and sommelier?

Since I became a producer, I've known the other side of the story and I understand that some sommeliers are not beloved by producers. As a producer, after three years of hard work and many risks, including economic ones, a sommelier makes me constructive comments, I gladly accept them. But, if the comments are unfounded and made without knowledge, I would be less accepting. In my career as a sommelier at the highest level, I have kept the ability to taste objectively. I know very well where the quality level of my wine is. A sommelier must always remember that behind a glass of wine there is a lot of work and commitment that must be respected.

Many of our readers might not be aware that Switzerland is such a major producer of wine – can you tell us a little more about Swiss wines and what we are missing out on?

Switzerland has very different geographical and climatic conditions and also very different cultures and traditions. This means that we produce wines of great diversity and absolute quality. They are only to be discovered!

Which are the most important characteristics that go to make a good sommelier: psychologist, counselor, performer/artist…?

As I said before, for the consumer, a good sommelier must be a qualitative filter to allow only high-quality wines to pass through, obviously in relation to their price. To do this he must be a good psychologist to understand the wishes of the customer and the context of consumption. For the restaurateur, a good sommelier is the one who knows how to manage the cellar well and the sales of wine, that generates profits and creates customer loyalty.

What’s your view on wine closures and does this influence your own or do you think it would affect the choices made by your customers?

The best closure, in my opinion, is the screw cap, but due to the prejudices of the customer, it is difficult to use it. The right compromise is the TCA-free microgranulated cork stoppers. I am more and more disappointed by natural cork, especially since I am a producer and realize that many of the wines that are flawed due to the cork are drunk by consumers who do not realize that the cause is the cork and are judged negatively.

How do you work with the chefs and kitchen to marry wines/drinks and their creations? What are your tips for menu pairing?

It depends on what the objective is. It is clear that in a restaurant you go first of all to eat, so normally the wine must adapt to the style of cooking. Here the sommelier's ability is to understand the cuisine, context and adapt the selection of wines. In no case should the sommelier make a choice for personal pleasure. In my case that now I am asked to animate wine-dinners around the world where wine is the most important element of the event, is the cuisine that must be adapted. Making a good wine with a medium maturation takes five to ten years. It takes a few hours to make a dish. It is clear that it is the dish that must adapt to the wine.


Many thanks for your time!

Alistair Morrell – Editor -


Most Popular

Next Events

South San Francisco Conference Center, 255 South Airport Boulevard, South San Francisco, CA 94080, United States

USA Wine Ratings 2023

Register Now

South San Francisco Conference Center, 255 South Airport Boulevard South San Francisco, California

Cannabis Drinks Expo San Francisco 2023

Register Now

Relevant Articles


The Name's Wines. Emily Wines.

Master Sommelier & Vice President of Wine & Beverage Experiences at Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurants gives insights into running a successful wine program

Suppliers Spotlight

Hunter Glenn Estate: A Brother & Sister team in Napa

They are dedicated to small production wines, made with minimal intervention both in the vineyard and the winery, truly allowing the fruit to shine through and showcasing their sense of place.

Subscribe to our Newsletter


Register and receive our weekly resume of the Sommeliers Business world.

Contact US

Want To Get In Touch!

Fill our Contact Form and let us know your thoughts and ideas.

Fill Our Contact Form

Post a job


Register, post your job offers and get exposure.