In the first of a new regular series of columns through August we invite people from different areas of the on-trade to give an insight in to their day to day working life and what challenges and opportunities they are following in 2016.
First to share the highs and lows of his average week is sommelier, Raul Diaz, who runs his own wine education business, www.WineTraining.co.uk, for both the trade and consumers.
Describe your average week.
On a regular basis, I teach WSET courses in three different places; a hospitality college; a VIP restaurant that focuses on wine; and my own school in West London. In addition to that, I host wine clubs for informal wine lovers on Wednesday evenings. Also, I host masterclasses and tailored courses for well known clients and tailored courses for a cool school. Normally, I have meetings with my clients to discuss the wine consultancy in the mornings. I always keep open my calendar for meetings with my prospects during the week.
Highlight of your last working week.
We have been developing a really cool wine project over the last couple of months. We finished an important part of it last week so we will be able to pitch our idea to relevant people. Sorry that I can’t reveal more information now.
The lowlight of your last working week…
I couldn’t convert a couple of good opportunities for some wine events. That’s life. We’ll have more chances soon.
What is the best part of your job?
There are two parts to that answer. First, it is the chance to administrate your own time. It is the sense of freedom and responsibility that you have for your work. Secondly, the interaction with my students and clients. To be able to see the progress they are making with their wine knowledge is really cool!
What aspect of your job would you like to improve?
I think we need to get bigger and more relevant across social media. We are working hard on it.
How has 2016 been for you and your business?
It’s been really great. Things are going according to the original business plan, with lots of ups and a few downs. Our business is growing strongly in the field of education and we are becoming regarded as a leading wine training company. Our clients are happy with our fun, approachable and modern delivery of wine education.
What are the key wider industry and consumer trends impacting on your business and are how are you adapting to them?
I would say the key trends are healthy eating, wine as a part of a lifestyle, and being able to provide people with cost effective wine offers. You need to be aware of these changes and also your own take on them. I think that in order to be relevant to your clients, you need to transmit those changes in a practical and uncomplicated way. Lots of time, I see people that talk a lot about wine and food the entire day, and they don’t even drink wine! And forget about cooking because they buy ready made food in the supermarket.
Favourite restaurant you have eaten this year and why?
Blandford Comptoir. My mate Xavier Rousset MS is the owner. This restaurant is incredible. I went with my wife and had an incredible gastronomic experience. Every detail in the restaurant is perfect. We talked about our dinner for days. That’s a real impact. We are keen to go back as soon as possible.
Favourite bottle of wine you have had in the last month. Why did you like it and where did you drink it?
Pinot Gris, Jean Marie Haag, Alsace, France (available through Jascots). I hosted an Alsatian wine club recently and tasted several wines from Alsace and the Pinot Gris was incredible. It was so balanced, fresh, with lots of fruits and super elegant. And on top of that, it is a very good value wine.
Favourite cocktail you have had this year?
I don’t drink cocktails at all. Normally, I have a couple of aperitivos. My favourite is Martini Bianco; simple and delicious.
If you could pick three people for a classic dinner party from the trade who would they be?
My wine mates: Andrew Fishwick, Xavier Rousset and Alastair Pyatt. Make sure that you stock lots of top quality Riesling!
Best job you have had in your career?
My current job is quite sexy to be honest. I have had lots of great jobs in my career. Some of them were better that others, but I always felt that if I was doing something meaningful and fun.
Best film or book that includes wine and drink?
Sideways in an amazing film that features wine, I liked it a lot. But in a more personal level, my favourite film that includes wine is “All The Morning of the World”. A sublime and delicate film about life, music and love that takes place during the XVII century in France.
Where are you going on summer holidays and what are you drinking when you do?
The Mediterranean countries are our favourite destination; especially Spain and Italy. There are so many delicious wines to choose from. You can have a different wine for every single day. Some of our tops favourites are: Vermentino, Grillo, Primitivo, Godello, Verdejo or Garnacha.
- Raul Diaz’s Wine Training company offers a range of bespoke courses for the on-trade including staff training at all levels through to consultancy advice on wine lists and management advice on how to make wine an effective part of a restaurant’s business plan.