Sheffield restaurant owner Alistair Myers is toasting his success, after being honoured with a Certified Sommelier qualification by the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers.
Wine buff Alistair, who runs the award-winning Oakbrook Road restaurant alongside Chef Tom Lawson, spent two years studying for the qualification and had to undergo an intensive day of examinations to scoop the award – which has been bestowed on only a handful of sommeliers in Yorkshire, and no one previously in Sheffield.
Rafters, which is the only restaurant in Sheffield to be listed in The Good Food Guide 2017, has attained an Outstanding Wine List listing in the Guide three years running, with its reviewers describing Alistair’s wine list as a “labour of love”.
Just over half of the 20 people who took part in the Court of Master Sommeliers’ examinations in London last week passed the gruelling certification process, which involved a blind tasting and a theory and serving exam in front of three Master Sommeliers.
Fitting his revision in between running the restaurant and bringing up a young family, Alistair said he was thrilled to now be considered a Certified Sommelier.
“When they told me I had passed the exams I almost had to pinch myself!” said Alistair, who discovered his love of wine in his early 20s after his grandmother bought him a wine book.
“It’s been a lot of hard work but incredibly satisfying to know that we can now offer our customers even more expert knowledge and advice about wine.”
Indeed, diners at the highly-acclaimed restaurant can choose from 130 wines sourced from Hull merchants House of Townend on the wine list, as well as Alistair’s hand-selected flight of wine on the Tasting Menu.
And, for the first time thanks to Alistair’s recent spirits training, there is a new cocktail menu.
“Buying a bottle of wine in a restaurant is like placing a bet and it’s a sommelier’s job to give the customer the best odds!” said Alistair.
“We try hard to make our list as approachable and good value as possible, while at the same time pushing people to try something new.
“Ultimately, being a good sommelier is about listening to your customers so you can find out what they like and then to create a wine list with the latest and most interesting wines available today.”
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