Q&A with Sommelier Ana Maria Buitrago

The Restaurant

Immerse yourself in the world on a Sommelier and discover what why this role is crucial in the Gastronomy world.

Interview with Ana Maria Buitrago, Sommelier of Sofitel Legend Santa Clara

What motivated you to venture into the universe of wine?

The wine universe is like an open book, where you can learn so much about geography, history, families and the connections with people. Wine allows you to travel to other cultures without leaving your place, it is an enchanting universe.

What studies are needed to be a Sommelier, what has been your career?

I have a certification in Masters Sommelier after I did my studies in gastronomy. Usually one starts with our love for gastronomy and then I specialized in my area of interest, in this case: wines.

Can you describe the role of a sommelier?

A sommelier is not only an expert in wine but also an expert on the pairing with the gastronomic experience. This is an expertise that brings the best marriage between food and wine.

How long does a wine last, after opening it, in perfect conditions?

It really depends on the type of wine. If we are talking about a Rosé wine or more bubbly wines, usually I would say 2 days without them losing their body and taste. For a red wine, I would say 3 to 4 days always keeping them in the fridge away from light. I would suggest only to keep a bottle of wine if less than half of it was consumed, if the bottle is half or more empty, then I would advise to drink it and not store it as there is too much air in the bottle to really keep the quality of the wine intact.

When tasting wine, what should I be looking for?

We as sommeliers will usually give the customer a portion to taste of about 2 to 3 sips. The first thing to do is to look at the color and make sure there are no floating sediments on the wine. Second will be to smell the aroma of the wine, make sure it is satisfactory and we do not smell any odd notes. Third is the flavor, there is no secret here, the customer just needs to make sure she/he likes it. It truly depends on the customer, some customers like to only take one small sip and try, others finish the entire tasting portion.

Does white really go with fish/chicken, and red with red meats? Or is there some overlap?

This is a myth, it truly will depend on the food and how it is prepared. Let’s take salmon as an example, if we are eating a fresh salmon carpaccio with a citrus vinaigrette, I would recommend to pair it with a crips white wine. If we are having a roasted salmon with a pepper sauce and winter vegetables, I would recommend to pair it with a red wine. It all depends on how to pair our wines with the food we are about to enjoy so we can create the perfect experience. The guide should be the flavors not the type of wine.

What are the biggest faux pas that customers tend to make when ordering and drinking wine?

One of the behaviors that I see the most is when the customer feels ashamed for not knowing about wines and prefers not to hear a suggestion, she takes out her phone and looks up the wine name on an app. I notice that customers feel intimidated by a Sommelier when they shouldn’t. We have a lot of experience with wine and our job is to make their experience more enjoyable.

If you could only drink one wine for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Champagne, for its versatility

Which wines are the most frequently requested/ ordered wines at Sofitel Legend Santa Clara?

Our guests are very interested in learning about South America, we have the opportunity of introducing them to wines from Argentina and Chile.

What’s the most exquisite pairing of food and wine in the world?

I would have to choose 2 options, a savory one: Blue Cheese & Oporto from Portugal and a sweet one, Dark Chocolate & Oporto from Portugal.

What would you have as your last meal?

Oysters with Champagne or a White Chablis wine.

What wines should we buy as an investment in 2023?

I would recommend classic wines that transcend in value with time such as a Bordeaux, Champagne or a Rioja.

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