Unfiltered: Angelo Lorea, Ginza Onodera

Angelo Lorea is the head sommelier at Japanese newcomer Ginza Onodera, which is based in the heart of St James’s London and is part of the growing Onodera Group, which already has venues in Ginza, Shanghai, Hawaii, Los Angeles, New York and Paris. Ginza Onodera’s modern Japanese concept replaced the 23-year-old Matsuri restaurant, where Lorea was also head sommelier, with a 130-cover dining space complete with a robata and tepenyaki grill, herringbone booths and a marble sushi bar. Expect black cod, gold-flecked squid and cactus-fed turbot from the pass, a wine list compiled by Lorea with a strong French and Italian slant, and one of the most extensive sake lists in London.

Angelo Lorea, head sommelier at Ginza Onodera

What’s your go-to drink at the end of a long day?

Anything my team is giving me to try as a blind tasting at the end of the night shift.

What’s your most embarrassing front-of-house moment?

Very recent one has been when I have picked up the ice bucket as I wanted to move it in a different angle of the restaurant and suddenly the base fail in the middle of the floor and the inside brick broke in hundreds pieces.

If you could give your younger self advice when starting out as a somm, what would it be?

Never stop studying. Focus on details and improve how to read a guest’s mind. Do not think that you are a good somm only because you have sold Petrus 1990 – this is the easiest wine to sell.

Has a wine every given you an epiphany? Which one?

Too many times, the latest Barbacallo 1996,Domaine Comte Abbatucci Faustine 2014, Clos de Marquis 1974.

Which customer habit annoys you the most?

Nothing annoys me, having a challenging guest keeps the focus high. I love to understand and keep records of all the habits of my customers as long they are not disrespectful.

Who is your inspiration in the gastronomic world?

My two mentors: Alessandro Passagrilli restaurant manager and head sommelier at one-Michelin-starred restaurant Il Refettorio at the Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel in Conca dei Marini, Campania, Italy; and Enrico Bucci, general manager at Sartoria, in London, who previously worked at three-Michelin-starred restaurant La Pergola, Rome, Italy.

What’s your ultimate food and wine pairing?

Turbot Kobujime with Karasumi (Italian Bottarga in Japanese) with Manzanilla Sherry “Gabriela” Bodega Sanchez-Ayala.

Where would your fantasy vineyard be?

Vesuvio, Campania, Italy.

If you weren’t a sommelier, what would you be doing?

Restaurant manager. Sorry if I am boring but hospitality has been always the job I wanted to do.

Which wine (grape/style) do you find it impossible to get along with?

Wines made by grapes that reflect the terroir have my friendship. I don’t get along with all the rest.

Who is the most memorable customer you’ve ever served?

Fabio Cannavaro, the Italian footballer, right after we won the world cup in Germany in 2006. I still remember how I was shaking…

What else would you like to achieve in your life?

Create a boost that can make my parents live an extra hundred years.

What would be your desert Island wine?

I would definitely bring with me a never ending supply of Burgundy Pinot Noir.

What is your life motto?

Losers make excuses, winners make it happen.

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