The view from behind the wine list

Florian Daniel Maaß interviews top sommelier Raimonds Tomsons to hear how the pandemic has changed the fine dining world.

Raimonds Tomsons the night he won Best Sommelier of Europe and Africa 2017.
Raimonds Tomsons the night he won Best Sommelier of Europe and Africa 2017.

Vincents Restorāns in Riga has closed temporarily due to the pandemic, but when Meininger’s visited early in spring, it was still open and the Art Deco ornaments on the facades were shining in the pale sunlight. Vincents is located in Riga’s so-called quiet centre, whose outstanding Art Deco architecture has been included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

Its director is Raimonds Tomsons, one of the world’s top sommeliers. Although Latvia is a small country, it has a relatively developed wine market — and it even boasts a Latvian Grapegrowers Club, also based in Riga. A small hill in Sabile, 100km west of Riga, held the Guinness World Record as the world’s most northerly vineyard. It’s not far from Tomsons’ birthplace, Talsi. Tomsons recommends the Ledus ice wine made from naturally frozen Latvian apples. Not only that, but he works to promote a culture of wine in all three Baltic countries, not least as head juror of the Baltic Wine List Awards.

Even so, it’s a coup for the Baltics to have produced a sommelier of such stature. How did Tomsons do it — and what advice does he have for people wanting to place their wines in fine dining establishments?

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