It takes dedication and practice to become a top-notch sommelier – and few people know that better than Terry Kandylis, a man who recently walked away with the title Moët & Chandon Sommelier of the Year. The competition has existed since 1980 and tests the knowledge of some of the UK’s most expert wine professionals.
Kandylis was brought up in Greece and moved to the UK a decade ago to further his career. He is currently head sommelier at wine-focused London club 67 Pall Mall, the exclusive venue set up in 2015 with fine wine at the core of its raison d’être.
‘It’s been an amazing journey,’ says Kandylis. ‘I’ve been working in the wine and restaurant business for around 10 years and I’ve been lucky to work and learn next to some of the best in our industry. I went into wine because I was fascinated by its complexity and the way it can trigger different emotions and wake up memories.’
He adds: ‘Becoming a sommelier requires intense studying and patience. You have to sacrifice a lot, but the rewards can be great.’
Working at 67 Pall Mall has proved an interesting challenge for Kandylis and one he’s also found extremely fulfilling. ‘I wouldn’t say my philosophy about wine has changed since I arrived here,’ he says.
‘As sommeliers we need to listen to our guests’ requirements and requests and we need always to suggest the best possible wine option, according to their preferences, budget, mood and interests. The job is perhaps a little bit easier at 67 Pall Mall because of the variety of wines that we stock and the very high level of wine knowledge that exists among our members.’