Der Sommelier-Weltmeister

Wer ist der beste Sommelier der Welt? DIONYSOS hat die Antwort: der Schwede Jon Arvid Rosengren. Alles über den Champion.



von Roman Gasser

Der Schwede Jon Arvid Rosengren ist 2016 zum besten Sommelier der Welt gekürt worden. Bei der Weltmeisterschaft der Weinkellner im argentinischen Mendoza setzte er sich gegen 61 Konkurrenten aus 58 Ländern durch. Der Franzose David Biraud und die für Irland angetretene Sommelière Julie Dupouy landeten auf den Plätzen zwei und drei.

Der 31-jährige Rosengren arbeitet im New Yorker Restaurant „Charlie Bird“ und hat schon eine ganze Trophäensammlung in der Vitrine: Er wurde bereits zum besten europäischen und skandinavischen Sommelier gewählt, in seinem Heimatland holte er den Titel gleich zweimal. Im September 2017 eröffnet Rosengren nun in Manhattan sein eigenes Restaurant „LRS“.

Die Sommeliers mussten ihre Fertigkeiten im Service und bei der Verkostung unter Beweis stellen. Zudem wurden ihr Wissen über den Weinanbau und die Gastronomie getestet. Einer der anspruchsvollsten Wettbewerbe weltweit.

DIONYSOS hat Jon Arvid Rosengren in New York erreicht. Ein spannendes Interview. Das Gespräch wurde auf Englisch geführt.

DIONYSOS: You started in 2009 with your first competition at “the Best Sommelier of Sweden”. Why did you decide to be part of these competition and do you remember what kind of impressions did you have at that time?

Jon Arvid Rosengren: At the time, I had little ambition and intention to pursue the long task of competing. But I was working with a guy in Stockholm and he had entered, so we trained together. I though, I’m at least as good as he is – so I entered as well. What I found was that it was an excellent vehicle to force myself to keep studying, tasting and learning. That’s why I kept doing it – it made me challenge every part of myself and my work to get better.

In your blog you admit that you love to find weak points in your performance and to improve them. What kind of weak points?  

All kinds! Whether it is holes in my theoretical knowledge, blind tasting “blind spots” or some tic or flaw in my service that I can remove or polish to give the guests a better experience.

You won a lot of titles: Best Sommelier of Sweden, Best Sommelier in the Nordic Countries, Best Sommelier of Europe and 2016 Best Sommelier of the World in Mendoza, Argentina. How intense was the study and training to achieve as you did? And how did you manage it during work? Do you think it’s important to go through several contests to be successful at the end: at the Sommelier World Competition?

It was extremely intense – I did it during a very short time from start to finish. But that was my goal. It was such hard work, demanding on social relationships etc, that I felt that I needed to do it in short time. My life was wine for those 7 years, training and working. I had a lot of fun too, but perhaps not enough sleep.

What would you recommend to young people if they want to be successful? How important is to be a floor sommelier?

Being a floor sommelier is key. Find somewhere great to work (which doesn’t mean that the restaurant has 3 Michelin stars etc – I’d almost recommend against that), where wine is in focus and you can learn from a mentor.

How did you train for the World Competition?  And is it true that some sommeliers at this stage separate from their families and just focus only on the contest – like sportsmen? Did you have a sort of trainer or did you all by yourself?

Some do. I did not separate from my family. It seems a little ridiculous. Balance (and family) is too important. I was very methodical in my training – studying HOW to study to get the best results, how to study smart instead of hard, because I know that I didn’t have much time (I had given myself that limit). I recorded everything, wrote down blind tasting results and filmed service sessions. I was brutal to myself in my feedback, but also in giving myself praise when it was deserved. I also spent time meditating, doing breathing excercises every day and pursuing my hobby of Brazilian jiu jitsu to keep me balanced and confident.

In your blog you tell us about four days of grueling tests for you and the 60 other national candidates to prove your knowledge, service and tasting skills during the World Competition. Can you tell us a little bit more? And bring some examples? How did you handle the stress during competition?  When did you realize that you won the game? Why are Nordic Sommeliers so successful?

I spent time with an acting coach to work on how to lessen the effect of nerves on stage. I did hours and hours of meditation and breathing exercises to prepare for that moment in the spotlight. My heart was still pounding when it happened. And I was not at all sure that I would win… I did not think I had performed as well as I had.

„I’m a big fan of the crisper whites, be they Sauvignon, Kerner or Riesling, but the Gewürztraminer is impressive as well.“

Since then, your life changed dramatically?

In many ways, yes. I no longer wake up in the morning and blind taste and go through 300 flash cards. It has not become more relaxed though, not I wake up to take care of my baby girl and my new restaurant, Legacy Records.

You worked for Charlie Bird in New York, a neighborhood restaurant and you opened your own restaurant last September: LRS in Manhattan.  In an interview with the Manager Magazine you admit preferring a friendly and relaxed atmosphere and having fun at your job.  Is this the future of Sommellerie?

I think there are many futures, not just one. But I do think that the future of gastronomy isn’t necessarily driven by the most luxurious restaurants. I think elements like music, lighting and creating a good mood is more important than food to be honest. And if you can create a fun rertaurant experience, people will drink more and better wine.

What kind of wine do you prefer and do you drink regularly?

White wine more than red. Not because I prefer it, but it just tends to end up that way. I like to drink when I cook. White Burgundy, Riesling or Chenin Blanc.

Did you visit Italy? Which Italian wine and which wine region do you prefer? What about our Gewürztraminer from South-Tyrol?

I have visited Italy many times but never Südtirol! I would love to visit. I’m a big fan of the crisper whites, be they Sauvignon, Kerner or Riesling, but the Gewürztraminer is impressive as well.


Artikel: Roman Gasser
Artikel veröffentlicht im „Weinmagazin DIONYSOS 3/2018“ ©
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Das Weinmagazin der Sommeliervereinigung Südtirol „DIONYSOS“ Ausgabe 03/2018