There are some sommeliers who know how to infect others with their passion for the liquid and the craft that is not becoming a rewarding profession. One amongst them is Kevin Rodrigues, a humble Mumbai lad with a charming smile and that precious virtue, curiosity. His comrades respect him for his simplicity and insatiable passion. Team IWBS learns about his journey thus far and how he sees the field of sommellerie developing and growing in India in the future.
Tell us about your journey from IHM Mumbai to becoming a certified sommelier?
I graduated from IHM, Mumbai in 2014, and started working in Indigo, Colaba as a steward for a year and a half following which I got the opportunity to join Yauatcha, Mumbai as an Assistant Sommelier. After Yauatcha, I worked in Baros, Maldives as the Resort Sommelier for almost 2 years. I am currently back with Yauatcha as the Sommelier for the group.
What moved you to pursue a career in wines, which even today remains grossly understood and rather niche?
Being from a background where wines weren’t looked down upon helped me to take this up as a career. While working in Indigo I pursued WSET level 2 and 3 on the advice of my Bar Manager Darreyn Pereira with IWBS. (I was one of the lucky ones to be taught wines by Gagan). After studying for another year I attempted and passed the Introductory Sommelier and Certified Sommelier in Athens, Greece as CMS courses weren’t introduced in India back then in 2015.
How has working abroad added to your skills and wisdom?
In the Maldives, I used to handle a wine list of about 300+ labels and we had to taste all the wines before listing them. This gave me the opportunity to develop my palate and tryout new wines which weren’t easily available in India. Also being the only resort Sommelier, I got to develop the wine list, do food and wine pairings for set menus, menu engineering, etc.
What do you think about Indian wines and what do you see for them in the future?
Indian wines are getting better day by day. Indian wines are gaining reputation with domestic as well as international sommeliers and consumers. I had the Grovers La Reserve in my list in the Maldives just to let my guests know that India does produce quality wines. Wines like KRSMA Cabernet Sauvignon, Fratelli Sette, Grover Zampa Chene have definitely taken Indian wines to the next level and Indian wine industry is definitely has a bright future ahead.
What’s that one aspect of sommellerie that you adore the most and one that you want done away with?
An aspect of Sommellerie I adore the most is that a Sommelier is your one point contact for everything on a restaurant floor. Also, the learning never ends.
What is your advice to young professionals seeking a career in this field?
Don’t only study wines, study everything which is behind the bar. Learn to make cocktails and design the bar menus. Even study saké. Be a beverage all-rounder! Also, travel and visit wineries/breweries/distilleries every chance you get. And keep blind tasting.