Unfiltered: Salvatore Sicilia, Salt Yard Group

Salvatore Sicilia, is wine ambassador for the Salt yard Group, which comprises London restaurants Salt Yard in Fitzrovia, Dehesa and Ember Yard in Soho and Opera Tavern in Covent Garden. Here, the Italian oenophile describes his unconventional approach to wine and food pairing and why it’s important to stay humble as an aspiring sommelier.

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

Paltrinieri Lambrusco Di Sorbara DOC, Radice (Metodo Ancestrale).

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

I once served a customer ignoring the fact that he was a famous NBA player.

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

Drink (responsibly), observe and listen to whoever has more experience than you as there is always something to learn. BE HUMBLE!!!!

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

Heitz Cellar, Napa Valley Cabernet 2013 (California). It took me back to my grandfather small winery in South Italy.

Which customer habit annoys you the most?

Ice cubes in wine.

Who is your inspiration in the gastronomic world?

Massimo Bottura

What’s your ultimate food and wine pairing?

I love to pair by contrast, think out of the box. Don’t be conventional. For example, a cuvée of herbal Grappa and Italian mineral water to pair with game. Thanks to Giuseppe Palmieri for the inspiration.

Where would your fantasy vineyard be?

On the hills of Cosenza, South Italy

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

Probably music, as I studied it here in London.

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

None. I love everything that is wine, specially.

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

Hilary Swank.

What else would you like to achieve in your life?

Open my own wine bar.

What would be your desert Island wine?

Xinomavro Reserve, Vielles Vignes Amyndeon, Alpha Estate (Greece).

What is your life motto?

You will always be able to make a fish stew out of an aquarium but have you tried to make an aquarium out of a fish stew?

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