By Freya Ensbey.
Inherently part of everyday life, wine is just as crucial to
the culture of Italians as is the tomato or pasta.
One restaurant bringing this ethos to the shores of our
country is Ormeggio at The Spit,
Sydney’s luxurious restaurant perched regally above d’Albora Marinas at The
Spit in the prominent suburb of Mosman.
Headed by Executive Chef Alessandro Pavoni, hailing from
Brescia in Italy’s North and having fronted various Michelin Star venues, with
the likes of La Rotonde in France and Villa Fiordaliso on Lake Garda, Pavoni
has crafted a poised, yet modern Italian menu with meticulously styled
Ormeggio's Head Sommelier, Alessio Domenici.
Working closely with Pavoni and his kitchen team is
Ormeggio’s Head Sommelier, Alessio Domenici, overseeing the execution of a
perfectly paired wine menu on offer to complement each element of an Ormeggio
meal, creating a memorable experience.
We sat down with the extremely passionate and knowledgeable
Domenici, speaking about his Italian Father’s influence on his love of wine,
how he came to such success in the industry and his opinion on many common wine
tasting and pairing queries.
How did you get into
the field of wines within the hospitality industry?
In the early 2000s I attended a course in Rome to attain a
professional Sommelier qualification, this was the first step for me in the
field of wines within the hospitality industry. To be honest, wine has always
been part of my life; I inherited my passion for exciting wines from my Father
and his cellar full of fine bottles.
What do you find is
the biggest mistake you have found diners make when ordering a wine to
accompany their meal?
The most frequent mistake made by diners is to accompany
desserts with dry wines (whether they are red or sparkling wines), which in my
opinion ruins both the taste of the food and wine.
Another quite frequent mistake is to request wine to be
served at a temperature other than the optimal temperature for a particular
bottle. I believe that we cannot decide the serving temperature of the wine,
but it is the wine itself that imposes it.
Of course, in the end the best food and wine pairing is
always to eat what you like to eat and drink what you like to drink! A
sommelier’s job is to be able to advise and recommend best practice but never
What are your golden
rules to stick to when matching wine with a dish?
In my opinion it is extremely important to listen to the
suggestions that the dishes’ place of origin gives us: I refer to what is
commonly called "regional pairing.” Often the wines of a region are created to
accompany the dishes of their local cuisine, for us this is a big help when
choosing wine. The best pairings happen when food and wine come together in a
perfect marriage, enhancing and supporting each other, and in fact making both
taste better than they would by themselves.
We always hear how
important it is to age a good wine, how does this process affect the end taste?
The right level of aging wine is fundamental for all wines.
The right time to open a bottle of wine is not always easy to decide, there are
wines that are expressed to the maximum in their youth, and others that need
more time to achieve balance and harmony, even the seasonal trend of the
vintage influences the evolutionary state of a wine. In the end the choice of
the "right time to open” requires great experience and knowledge and is often
extremely important influencing (in a decisive way) the final taste of the
What do you look out
for in a premium wine?
This is a definition that I do not like very much because it
is commercially used to identify expensive wines – in my opinion, a wine of
superior quality must have a close correspondence between taste and smell; it
must speak of the place where it is produced and the vintage of the fruit; it
must correspond to the typology; and it must excite me!
Does the shape of the
wine glass make a difference with the overall taste in wine?
It has been proven that the shape of the glass from which
the wine is tasted influences the perception that one has of the wine itself.
Each type of wine glass is designed to let us appreciate the wine in its
entirety, taking into account its type and characteristics. You can test this
out yourself next time literally by using 3 different glasses that you have at
home, pouring whatever wine you are drinking into each one and witness the
completely different flavour each one offers you. It’s quite amazing actually.
If you had to choose
one last bottle of wine to enjoy for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Definitely an exciting natural wine like:
Toscana Sangiovese IGP 2001 – Case Basse di G Soldera
Sangiovese Grosso – Montalcino (siena)
We currently stock the 2013 vintage of this particular
bottle at Ormeggio but it’s pretty limited stock!
Left musing by the infectious fervour of Domenici, we took
the advantage to get an insight into the wines he would pair with three of
Ormeggio’s most popular dishes and their challenging bold flavour notes. For
those who wish to create a little Italian amorè in their own kitchen, why not
try your hand at Chef Alessandro Pavoni’s elegant Yellowfin Tuna Crudo, Pistachio and Ocean Trout Roe recipe.