Jonathan Tangalin Comia, Sommelier, Guy Savoy
How did you get into the world of wine?
Through the introductory and intermediate wine programmes conducted by Wine Director Alphonse Kaelbel here at Marina Bay Sands. Prior to this, I was a service attendant at RISE restaurant and had no background in wine at all.
So what made you decide that wine is something you really like and that you want to become a sommelier?
After getting to know more about wine, it became more interesting. I really like how each wine has its own character, and the fact that wine helps open conversations — you have to explain wines to customers and exchange notes with them.
Did you prepare a lot for the Singapore Sommelier Challenge 2013?
Yes for the whole month of July, I studied. When people were playing Candy Crush on their phones during breaks, I was studying wine using different wine apps on my phone.
Was there anybody at the restaurant guiding and mentoring you?
No, I was solely in charge of the wines at my restaurant. So every night when I did inventory, I got the chance to sample different wines, which made me familiar with the taste of various grapes. This gave me an edge in the competition.
"When people were playing Candy Crush on their phones during breaks, I was studying wine using different wine apps on my phone."
What was the most nerve wrecking part of the competition for you?
The blind tasting. Although I was very confident, as I had the grapes varietals down pat, it was difficult for me to answer questions in front of three judges and an audience. It was my first time being in front of such a big crowd and I was nervous.
What did you learn from the competition experience?
Even a lowly service attendant can make it to the top.
Any tips on food and wine pairing?
Pair high-acid foods with wines of equal or higher acidity. If not, your wine will taste flat.
Do you have a favourite wine?
I currently have a penchant for Pinot Noir. I might work at a French restaurant, but I prefer New Zealand’s Pinot Noirs.
What do you drink on your days off?
To be honest, I only drink wines. Even on my days off, I take the chance to sample wines, especially the more expensive ones. But if I had to choose something other than wine to drink, I'd choose beer.
Guy Savoy | Address: #02-01, Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue | Tel: 6688513 | Opening hours: Tue-Sat 4-10.30pm, Fri noon-2pm, Closed on Mon & Sun
In between her bowls of bak chor mee and plates of prata, Joyce Huang be found in various corners of the world digging into streetside fare, trawling museums and practising hand signals with locals.