As you know we chatted to Lewis about the vegan wine flight a while back, but we wanted to find out a little bit more about him, his work on the estate and his favourite grapes for 2019…
When did your interest in wine begin and where do you think it stemmed from?
When I was a teenager I worked at a restaurant, which had previously won regional wine list of the year. Therefore I had to become quite knowledgeable about wine rather quickly. I soon became interested in all the elements of wine and curating a wine list. It was a great first experience and gave me a strong basic understanding of the drink.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
Working in hospitality, the biggest buzz always comes from delivery of a fantastic service. I was always taught that to be a good sommelier isn’t necessarily about being able to be the best blind taster or having the most knowledge, it’s about being attentive to each guest and understanding their taste and needs. It’s crucial to exceed their expectations every time.
Where do you find your inspiration to create a wine flight?
I would say most of my inspiration comes from the ingredients included alongside the seasoning, acidity and sweetness of each dish. Once I’ve tasted the final dish, I’ll then have a couple of wines in mind that I think will complement the ingredients well. I like to use a grape which is similar in weight or contrast to each dish to make sure it doesn’t overpower the food.
One of my favourite pairings is blue cheese and Sauternes, this is because of the contrast of the sweeter wine really does compliment the salinity of the cheese, it’s the perfect pairing.
And how about the wine? What can you be found enjoying?
Red. Although white is a much more versatile food partner.
Can you tell us about some new upcoming grapes for 2019? Can we find these at Forge and what do you pair them with?
It can be difficult to predict trends, a few years ago everyone was crazy about Riesling, a grape which I still love and a wine that can be an incredibly complex and versatile wine but the boom just didn’t really materialise.
I think a lot of the trends may depend upon Brexit and pricing structures, I personally believe people may start to look at more unusual grape varieties and regions. For example we recently tried a sauvignon blanc and chardonnay blend from a French winemaker that had been crafted in India - it was like an incredibly ripe burgundy and was pretty interesting taste and texture.
And finally, what are your three favourite things about Forge?
First it’s all about the team. We have a great working relationship and we’ve all worked together for a while now so it’s like an extended family. Secondly, the opportunity; it’s fantastic to be able to work somewhere that has just opened as you become part of the whole story.
And finally, the freedom I’ve been given to work closely with local suppliers and producers. I have made many friends through these working relationships and it has opened lots of doors to discover and source a unique variety of wines for the restaurant.