Rajeshwaran Gopal, Group Sommelier at Samadhi Retreats & Judge in the Decanter Asia Wine Awards (DAWA)
Tamarind Hill30 Labrador Villa Road, Labrador Nature Reserve, Singapore, 119189
You manage the wine lists of so many restaurants under the Samadhi Retreats Group. How do you manage such a feat?
The restaurants by the Samadhi Retreats Group are inspired by the love for Indochine and Thai cuisines. These cuisines usually have more complex, stronger and spicier flavours, so finding the right wines to match each dish is more challenging. We are not building up a huge wine list, but the focus is on curating a wine list that will offer choices that will be flexible to pair with dishes on the menu.
We also do a lot of training for our service staff, and sometimes customize this for the different properties as the audiences are quite different. We also look at ways in which we can communicate about the wines to the customers to make their selection easier– for example, wine notes on the menu and how the wines are displayed can play a big part.
What are your proudest accomplishments?
I was very honoured when I clinched 2 awards in 2011 for Malaysia’s Best Sommelier and South East Asia Sommelier Competition. I have also learnt a lot by participating in international arenas, such as when I came in as a semi-finalist at the Asia Oceania competition in Daejeaon, South Korea and also came in as Top 30 Sommeliers at the 14th World Sommelier Competition in Tokyo.
What is your all-time favourite food and wine pairing?
My current favourite is Yves Cuilleron Sybel (Syrah – Rosé) Rhone Valley. Recently I’m having fun matching this full but vibrant Rosé and with expressive oriental spices, it goes well with our seafood dishes, especially the Soft Shell Crab in Yellow Curry.