- Published on Monday, 06 April 2009 14:12
Federico Graziani is in charge of the wine list at Milan's famous Il Luogo di Aimo e Nadia. Already the author of two books, he's currently continuing his research into the world of wine by studying for his MW.
What first got you interested in wine?
I started the first course of my sommelier studies when I was 15 years old. My parents had to sign a document that allowed me to ‘taste' wines. I guess it was just curiosity at the time, then, through experience, I got really passionate about it.
How did you end up in your current job?
After three years in London, working with Stefano Cavallini at the Halkin Hotel, then Teca in Mayfair and the launch of Isola, I was given a great opportunity at Milan's Cracco Restaurant so I decided to return to Italy. One year after the opening, I moved to a restaurant with a simpler, more genuine cuisine, Aimo e Nadia. They gave me the opportunity to work with them and let me study oenology at the University of Milan.
Do you have a wine world hero? If so, who is it - and why?
I guess I have at least 100! There are so many great people in the wine business, but if I had to choose one it would be Giuseppe Rinaldi, a cultured, ironic and romantic Barolo producer.
What makes a great sommelier?
Experience and curiosity, but first of all, humility. You never know who's sitting in the restaurant at the table with your regular guest.
What's your proudest professional achievement?
Being allowed to study with the Institute of Masters of Wine. But I'm also very proud of my second book, ‘Vini d'Autore'.
What makes a great wine list?
I believe a great wine list should be wide and deep, a selection of the best wines from all around the world (but not necessarily the most expensive). A wine list should represent both the experience of the sommelier and his taste.
Is there any kind of wine you wouldn't want on your list?
I dislike wines made in order to obtain high scores without giving the wine drinker pleasure and drinkability.
How much emphasis do you attach to matching wines with food - and what's the best way of helping customers steer their way to appropriate wine choices?
I believe that as long as the client approves of the match that wine pairing is very important but that one shouldn't be fanatical about it. And it's important to remember that there is not just one perfect match: it depends on the sequence of the menu and not just on each individual dish.
What's the oddest request you've ever had from a customer?
It was many years ago. A costumer asked me to get some Coke to accompany their Chateau Latour 1990. I put the bottle of soft drink next to the glass and left. I felt very sad.
What do you drink at home?
Anything good. It could be white or red, it depends on how I feel that day. More often than not, it's Champagne.
What would be your desert island wine?
Domaine Ponsot's Clos de la Roche 1985.
And what would you want to eat with it?
Sweetbread caramelised with hazelnuts and Torcolato sauce. To die for.