Matteo Pastori, Wine Warehouse, San Francisco

How did you become interested in wine?

Starting the AIS (Associazione Italiana Sommelier) course in Perugia and continuing my studies in London with the UK Sommelier Association after meeting Andrea Rinaldi.

Can you describe your pathway to becoming a Sommelier?

My first experience was at the winery Signae in Montefalco where I was pouring wine during some events.
Then I moved to London when I was 19 years old and here I begin my career.
First step to be taken was to learn the language so I started working in an English pub as drink runner. Great opportunity to learn English, and make lot of people laugh for my funny English.
Then I joined the UK Sommelier Association and started working for The Dorchester Hotel as commis Sommelier.
After getting my AIS Diploma with UKSA and the WSET advance certificate, my ex-manager Igor Sotrich gave me the possibility to be part of his sommelier team so I finally begin my carrier as Sommelier.

Which sparkling wines or regions do you think are the most underrated?

All the “Méthode Champenoise” made from indigenous grapes coming from Italy!
Carricante, Nebbiolo, Pignoletto etc.

How is a Sommelier or ‘Somm’, perceived in the U.S?

Most of the restaurants have one sommelier only and this is most often than not, the wine buyer.
Servers are more likely required to attend wine courses and get at least the first level from the sommelier school, so the average knowledge is pretty high.
I collaborate with North American Sommelier Association and I see a growing number of people that want to gain more and more knowledge about wine.

How many sparkling wines do you taste on average per day whilst working at Wine Warehouse?

I tend to take a sample bottle of sparkling wine with me to taste with costumers at least twice a week together with other products.

Do you find your customers tend to go for Champagne or do they try American Sparkling wines?

Champagne is definitely the leader in the sparkling wine market.
The American sparkling’s are getting more popular nowadays, also thanks to the huge investment from major houses, but they will never beat the French king.

What do you think is a most versatile wine?

Hard to say, but a medium bodied, dry red is the wine that I often like to suggest as a pairing with most of the dishes.
Nebbiolo, Barbera and Etna Rosso are definitely some of the best options, depending on the producer.
Costumers love it!

What analogy would you use to describe the relationship between food and wine?

A meal without wine is called breakfast.

What is your favourite sparkling wine and what would you pair it with and why?

A classic Champagne & triple cream cheese!