The Bacchus Report: Sommeliers – experts in good taste

Generally speaking, an upscale restaurant that prides itself on the renown of its wines will have a sommelier. In this country the first harbingers are already appearing. However, even with growing interest in fine wines our top restaurants lack experts who can master this profession.

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The word sommelier comes from a Provencal word (saumalier) and originally described a person in charge of teams of oxen transporting food and drink. In the 19th century, when great hotels and restaurants arose, the people seeing to the purchase and serving of beverages (mainly wines) came to be referred to by the term. The new profession gradually spread all over the world, and today all leading restaurants have sommeliers.
The Czech Republic Association of Sommeliers was established in February of 1997, and the following year it was accepted into the International Association of Sommeliers (ASI), thanks to which in 2000 our representative, Ivo Dvořák, was able to take part in the world championship in Canada. The Czech Republic Association of Sommeliers currently has 250 active members for whom training, controlled tastings, competitions, and preparatory courses for beginners are organized. Specialized courses and seminars are also organized by Salon vín ČR in Valtice, and some hotel schools also offer sommelier courses. For example, there is a school in Mariánské Lázně, where the course is taught by one of the first Czech sommeliers, Professor Karel Babka.
The top domestic competition is the republic championship, which is called the “Bohemia Sekt Trophy – Sommelier ČR”. This year marked its sixth year, and the current president of the International Association of Sommeliers, the Italian Giuseppe Vaccarini, who was world champion in 1978, presided over it. It is noteworthy that for the first time a woman, Klára Götzová of Merlot Grands Vins, made the finals. She finally came in third.
The competition includes serving guests and recommending wines for already determined dishes. Potential customers can be pleased that the number of competitors rise every year, as does the level of their expertise. In the competition the sommeliers also rate domestic wines, awarding gold, silver, and bronze seals to those they find the tastiest. For producers such recognition means that there is a good chance their wines will find their way into the cellars of the finest restaurants. A good sommelier not only knows how to properly present wine to diners, he is also in charge of stocking the wine cellar of the restaurant he works for.

The author is the editor of Hospodářské noviny’s IN magazine.


– To make sure that the valuable bubbles from your champagne don’t disappear too quickly, close it with a practical and elegant Monopol stopper.
Available for CZK 755.

Available at: La Vecchia Bottega, OC Nový Smíchov, Praha 5; Na Perštýně 10, Praha 2

Upcoming tastings

Vinotéka Cellarius, Budečská 29, Praha 2
9 December: The best of South African, Chilean, and Australian wines imported by Vinicola. Tel.: 222 515 243,

Vinotéka Archa, Vachova 6, Brno
10-13 December – Sparkling Wine Days; from 15 December – a week of selected archived wines from the shop’s cellar. Tel.: 542 215 136


Only a few people have as yet tasted the wines presented here, mainly because they’re a surprise that experts from Víno Mikulov cooked up. They involve limited series of four white wines, so you won’t find them in supermarkets, but rather in specialized wine shops and restaurants.

Chardonnay 2002, Vinařství Pavlov, selected grapes
Wine-producing region of Mikulovská, town of Sedlec, Pod Čtyřicítkou vineyard
Its gently golden, opalesque color indicates that this wine was prepared from truly well matured grapes. Its aroma carries citrus notes, slightly dominated by grapefruit rind. It is full but fresh and well-balanced on the palate. It glides pleasantly through the mouth like fresh butter, and it leaves a persistent, warm sense of toffee. It goes well with simply prepared seafood dishes.

Rulandské šedé 2002, Vinařství Pavlov, late harvest
Wine-producing region of Velkopavlovická, town of Velké Němčice, Kolébky vineyard
This crystal-clear wine boasts a greenish-golden color and a well-blended aroma and a balanced flavor. Its aroma carries hints of pineapple, and tones of sweet exotic fruits and flowering meadows.
Its flavor is freshly harmonic, yet persistent. It is excellent with more elaborate dishes featuring white meats and fish with sauces or with fresh cheeses.

Sauvignon, Vinařství Pavlov, late harvest
Wine-producing region of Mikulovská, town of Pavlov, Za Šťáchovým vineyard
Sparkling, goldish color with greenish flashes. The very first whiff offers peach tones and subtones of pistaccio nuts, and the flavor doesn’t lag far behind. It’s fresh, with a nice blend of exotic fruits such as kiwi, carambola, or opuntia, and a pleasant, creamy finish.

Pálava, Vinařství Pavlov, selected grapes
Wine-producing region of Mikulovská, town of Pavlov, Dlouhé vinice vineyard
This varietal was cultivated in 1970 in Perná, near Mikulov and is the result of a cross between red Tramín and Müller Thurgau. In the glass it is deep yellow, with sparkling golden hues. Pleasant dried-fruit notes are over-riding, and its persistence is extremely rich and long. Goes well with curry dishes and fatty cheeses and sauces.

Prices at the Bohemia sekt wine shop in Mikulov, in the firm’s shop in Starý Plzenec, and in the wine shop at Prokopova 21 in Plzeň: Chardonnay, Rulandské šedé – CZK 190; Sauvignon, Pálava – CZK 195.






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