Rachel Haydon from Australian Online Courses interviewed Gavin Wraith on his journey to becoming a Sommelier….
Head Sommelier Gavin Wraith’s passion for wine has taken him around the world, from the United Kingdom to Australia, working at exclusive venues, including Hotel Du Vin, Melbourne Supper Club and Shannon Bennett’s Vue Group.
His current position as Head Sommelier at Bohemian Wine Bar & Restaurant, in Melbourne’s South Wharf precinct, offers guests sharing style dishes with modern flavours designed to complement the perfect marriage of food and wine. Wraith enjoys treating guests to a generous selection of artisan gins and a wine list that will pioneer the diversity of Victorian wine as well as representing classic European and an extra splash of other southern hemisphere wines.
Here’s his story, on what it’s like, how he got there and why it’s his passion and his dream career.
Wraith says his foray into the sommelier profession was a fortunate accident. “It’s been an interesting journey. It’s a very specific job,” he says. But it wasn’t one he planned for when beginning his career at a four-star hotel as a 20-year-old events manager.
“It’s here I had the opportunity to gain food and beverage knowledge. I worked with the wine team and after learning the basics, I started asking a few questions… the next week I bought a few wine books and couldn’t put them down,” he says.
His thirst for knowledge grew and at age 21 he began the serious work of studying wine, passing with distinctions. “This result gave me the confidence to sell wine at tables and further my career in wine,” says Wraith.
He’s now Court of Master Sommeliers certified but says he’ll never stop learning. “I taste new things and it keeps me driven. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great, passionate people over the years and have a lot to be thankful for.”
SO, WHAT ARE THE PERKS OF BEING A SOMMELIER?
Wraith says he enjoys talking wine with like-minded people, whether it is customers, other sommeliers or winemakers. “I love to know how other people perceive wine and what they enjoy.”
He says he can also confidently navigate the wine menu at restaurants, but still asks for opinions. “I ask the sommelier’s advice for recommendations, after all they know their wine list better than anyone.”
He says visiting the beautiful local wineries is another perk of the profession. “I’ve had the privilege to meet some amazing people and knowing some of these winemakers personally now, from selling their wines years ago has been awesome. They’re my rock stars for sure,” says Wraith.
ADVICE FOR THE BUDDING WINE ENTHUSIAST
Wraith says studying wine is a lot of fun and practice makes perfect when it comes to tasting and understanding wines. He also recommends blind tastings to compliment serious study.
“If you have a group of six friends, you all buy a different chardonnay, taste them, you can see why they are different, it doesn’t take an expert palate to get that, what differs is being able to use more accurate terminology and understand why the flavours are there, but that comes with experience and further education,” he says.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BE A ‘WINE EXPERT’?
“I like to class myself as a wine fan, a super fan!” says Wraith. “Wine is my job and a hobby, when I’m not pouring it, I’m drinking it, when I’m not drinking it I’m most likely thinking about it. It’s a way of life really. I don’t think I’ll ever know all there is to know about the wine but it’s trying to get there that’s exciting!”