Close Menu

Top UK young sommeliers: part 1

The stereotype of sommeliers as stuffy, old, and invariably male, is long gone. In this series, which first appeared in October’s edition of our on-trade report, Eat.Drink, the drinks business talks to a passionate group aged 30 and under about their ambitions, days off and strange customer requests.

Kathrine Larson, Orrery

Kathrine Larsen, 30, from Orrery, London.

Was there a particular wine or “wine epiphany” which made you choose this career?

When I started working in wine 11 years ago, I had a really passionate team of senior staff around me who allowed me to try all kinds of exciting wines. I got completely hooked, so much so that I would do a 15-hour shift, go home, study for three hours, sleep for three hours, then go back to work again. The more I read about wine, the hungrier for knowledge I got.

Are there any parts of your current list that you’re particularly proud of?

We have a great selection of Rieslings from around the world at the moment.

Which wine styles or regions are exciting you at the moment and why?

I’m really into Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris-based white wines from the Languedoc. They’re incredibly versatile when it comes to food pairing.

What’s the key to being a successful sommelier?

A genuine passion for wine, and a wish to give people an experience. Success has as much to do with intuition, instinct, and empathy with the guest as it has to do with wine knowledge.

Are there any wine-related ambitions you would still like to achieve?

I’d like to keep learning and growing, and continue to get better at what I do.

What do you drink on your days off?

I tend to drink all kinds of interesting things that I stumble across. I have an innate love for Riesling though, in different expressions from around the world. It’s my all-time favourite comfort drink.

What made you decide to come to the UK to pursue your sommelier career?

I had a perception of London as the European capital when it comes to the wine trade and was keen to improve my learning by being at the heart of things.

What is the one wine you are desperate to try before you die?

There are so many… some really old Rutherglen Muscat perhaps.

Who is the most famous person you’ve served and what did you serve them?

I haven’t served any Hollywood A-listers yet, but I once served wine royalty in a restaurant in Copenhagen – Peter Sisseck of Pingus. He went for the wine pairings with his tasting menu.

What’s the oddest request you’ve ever received from a customer?

A guest once asked me to top up her glass of 1996 Clos Ste Hune with 7 Up to turn it into a white wine spritzer. Opening the can was painful.

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No