Sommelier of the Month - Elvis Ziakos
- Name: Elvis Ziakos
- Nationality: Greek
I was born a gastronome: I grew up in family where food and wine was our main pastime. After leaving school at 17, I studied at a culinary school on the island of Corfu. I finished in 1995 and have been working assiduously in restaurants since. In 2001 exploited the passion of sommelier. After a number of courses became The Best Sommelier of Greece in 2006 and in 2008. Since then, I have participated in 11 sommelier contests and I am already looking forward to the next one. I have been based in London since 2012. In 2014 I started my Master Sommelier lessons and I passed the advanced level in 2015 on the first attempt. In life it is not enough just to learn and taste. My favourite part of the job is the daily interaction with my team and my colleagues. I am inspired by their work ethics and how we stive together to reach perfection and to deliver epicurean excellence at every moment.
Since 2004, The Greenhouse has held onto its Michelin star status, and continues to win the praise of food critics, gourmets and wine lovers alike. In Spring 2012 Arnaud Bignon joined the team as Executive Chef, forming a partnership with Marlon Abela to take The Greenhouse to the pinnacle of excellence and to offer the very best in food and wine to its discerning and loyal clientele.
The restaurant is approached through a serene landscaped garden decorated with stone artworks by British sculptor Emily Young. Elements of the garden are carried into the restaurant with specially commissioned miniature sculptures on each table, as well as in the use of natural materials such as slate, marble and wood, offset inside by the fresh green colour palette.
With such a focus on excellence, it is little wonder that The Greenhouse rivals its competitors as one of London’s finest dining experiences.
The Greenhouse has two Michelin stars and is a member of Relais & Chateaux and Les Grandes Tables du Monde.
How did you first become interested in wine, and how did that interest evolve into a career?
For Grecians, wine is in our “blood and soul”. Not only have I always been passionate about wine but after working for 22 years in restaurants, I am very close to it.
What do you think makes a good sommelier?
Habitual self-discipline to ensure service excellence at all times.
When pairing 'Chef's' dishes with wines, what defines the process for you?
Well this is one of the most interesting parts of my job. At the beginning I had to taste them all and make mental notes. Now I am more experienced, I am able to match wine and food without even tasting them together. Although, desserts are always a challenge. Where possible you should always taste the dish.
Please describe your process for sourcing new wines.
Daily tasting and studying are essential in choosing new wines and new vintages for our wine list. Seasons and food menus can be important factors as well. The world of wine is endless…
What trends have you noticed in the wine market recently?
There are many, but as a sommelier I would like to mention that consumers are now looking for quality and are not necessarily driven by price when ordering wine. Producing quality wine costs money – a small price to pay for an enjoyable tasting experience.
What is the most unusual food and wine you know?
Sun dried Octopus from Greece - Cinque Terre Campogrande 2008 from Liguria.
How can customers get the best out of you? What should they be prepared to tell you and what questions should they ask?
Their presence is enough to bring out my best qualities. Some customers are less vocal than others which can be a challenge.
How can budding wine enthusiasts practice their tasting skills at home? Any games, tricks, or tips?
Try to push yourself by tasting as many wines as possible and keep tasting notes on each.
Where do you see your future career path?
I cannot even begin to think about the future. Being present in the now is truly demanding so I am dedicated to my role at The Greenhouse.
You are on that deserted island. Which two varietals do you plant?
Assyrtiko and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Who is the one person you’d most like to share a bottle of wine with?
They are too many to choose from!
Elvis' wine and food pairings
An organic unoaked Chardonnay from St Veran in Burgundy from Domaine de la Croix Senaillet 2015.
A light wine with vibrant creamy fruit, long and persistent flavours of liquorice, citrus and salty minerals are key here.
The Stephane Ogier Condrieu La Combe Malleval 2014 complements the dish perfectly.
Its exotic and floral complexity, combined with sultry texture with creamy edge, lingers with the spiced minerals which accentuate and contrast with the dish.
If you like a contrasting wine, choose a mature Riesling from Alsace with amber colour fullish and pungent scent such as Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Grand Cru Rangen de Thann “Clos St Urbain” 2006.
If you prefer a complementary wine it go for a creamy and spicy Meursault such as Lucien Le Moine Meursault, Les Charmes 1er Cru Cuvée Bahezre de Lanlay, Hospices de Beaune 2009. And if you are red wine lover, opt for a red burgundy’s simple song with their lush, silkiness and intensity and go for Domaine Arlaud Gevrey-Chambertin 2013.
Krug, Grande Cuvée NV. The soft and exuberant texture of veal is enhanced and paired harmoniously with the sea and steely-minerals flavours of caviar.
A Champagne of epic dimensions synthesized by 12 different vintages and imbued sumptuously with opulence, creaminess and invigorating freshness is simply once in lifetime together.