Sommelier of the Month - Luke Wilson

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Author: TheDrinkShop
Tags: Sommelier, Wine
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  • Name: Luke Wilson
  • Date of birth: 18th December
  • Place of birth: Glasgow
  • Eye colour: Blue
  • Height: 5'10"
  • Nationality: British

Following a stint as a waiter at Zetter I moved into a General Manager role for The Ambassador where I worked for 3 years. It was the owner, Clive Greenhalgh, who really started my interest in wine. It seemed a natural progression to take up a job working in wine, which is when I began with Liberty Wines. In 2011 I left to start my own project, 10 Greek Street, which opened in 2012 with my chef partner, Cameron Emirali. A couple years later in 2014 we opened 8 Hoxton Square and we are currently looking to do more.

Awards: 2013 – National Restaurant Awards Wine List of the Year 2014 – Imbibe Great Value Wine List of the Year 2015 – Imbibe Restaurant Personality of the Year

10 Greek Street & 8 Hoxton Square

Both 10 Greek Street and 8 Hoxton Square are neighbourhood restaurants that specialise in a seasonal menu which changes on a daily basis in a relaxed environment. Cam’s food is modern European with the mentality that dishes are meant for sharing or as individual portions.

The wine list is created to be approachable and affordable, I make certain it’s always evolving and changing but keeping the cost low to encourage our guests to try things.

We also have the little Black Book, which is where I select a handful of bottles, maybe 1-2 of each and again, keep them at a low mark-up, but these bottles are a little more special, harder to find.

10 Greek Street Covers – 35 with a private dining room of 12

8 Hoxton Square Covers – 45 with a kitchen table of 8 and outside terrace of 15

Luke's wine and food pairings

Fried Baby Squid
Wieninger, Wiener Riesling, Wien, Austria 2015
Cod, spinach, chervil root & brown shrimps
Dobogo, Tokaji Furmint, Tokaj, Hungary 2014
Gloucester Old Spot pork, white beans, frisee & mustard
Frédéric Magnien, Côte de Nuits - Villages Perrières, Burgundy, France 2013
Chocolate pot, pear & crème fraiche
Dandelion, ‘Legacy of the Barossa’ 30yr Pedro Ximenez, Australia

Luke's Q&A

What do you think makes a great sommelier?

Someone who listens to the customer, makes them feel at ease and directs them where they want to go. They break down any awkwardness or nervousness the customer might have and makes wine accessible. They take the customer where you want to go as opposed to where they want to go.

Describe your typical day at work.

No day is the same, but I am sure every restaurant owner says that. I will usually start at one of the two sites and check in with the staff, check on the wine orders and the Black Book to see what is selling and what is not. Some days I will have tastings and meetings back to back and some days I am in service on the floor.

When pairing 'Chef's' dishes with wines, what defines the process for you?

I think it is important to keep it simple and not to let one overpower the other, but to compliment each other.

Please describe your process for sourcing new wines.

There are so many great wine importers in London. We use about 20 or so different suppliers and try to taste as much as possible and meet as many producers as we can when they are in town.

What trends have you noticed in the wine market recently?

Value for money. I think there is a real effort to make wine more easy and accessible for people, if you make wine affordable people will try more things.

You are on that deserted island. Which two varietals do you plant?

Nebbiolo and Chardonnay.

Do you have a favourite food and wine pairing?

I am going to be super simple, but it would have to be blue cheese and port.

There are so many pairings, it’s hard to pick one. However, one of the more memorable ones was an Asian style crab cake with an off dry German Riesling.

And a most unusual food and wine pairing?

Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato with bacon and eggs.

How can customers get the best out of you? What should they be prepared to tell you and what questions should they ask?

I suppose if they know what they like or the style of what they’re looking for in any broad sense and price bracket then that’s enough information. They shouldn’t worry we are going to upsell them or sell them a bin end, I just want to help them get the bottle or glass they are looking for and will enjoy.

Who is the one person you'd most like to share a bottle of wine with?

My wife.

How can budding wine enthusiasts practice their tasting skills at home? Any games, tricks, or tips?

Blind taste as much as possible. It will definitely help your palate to develop.

Where do you see your future career path?

More of what we are doing now. We have the two restaurants and we are looking to expand, maybe more of the same but maybe something completely different.

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