World famous sommelier hails Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris 2022 as a “great event for doing business”
Salvatore Castano, fresh from being named Best Sommelier of Europe and Africa in the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale contest, remains humble as he aims for even higher goals. We sat down with him to hear his views
How important is an international trade show like Wine Paris & Vinexpo Paris for industry professionals and for you personally?
I think Wine Paris & Vinexpo is very important for the wine industry, especially after two years of the pandemic, where it was almost impossible to meet wine producers and wine professionals. Such an event is great for doing business and helping small producers become known outside the French market.
What do you enjoy the most about your profession? Tell us more about your award.
I enjoy every part of my profession. I found my real passion in the drinks business and this is what makes me happy. For me, the most exciting part of being a sommelier is the blind tasting, where you can really understand the quality of the wine, without getting influenced by the name of the producer. Winning the Best Sommelier of Europe and Africa ASI in 2021 was one of my dreams coming true. It was very unexpected, and in fact it took me two weeks to actually realise that I had won the competition. I believe that hard work always pays off, and this is the best thing that can happen when you put so much effort and passion into something that makes you happy.
What is your favourite wine or drink in general?
I don’t have a favourite wine, but in terms of grape, I really love Riesling, especially from Germany. The sensation that you get when trying young and aged wines from this grape is absolutely out of this world for me.
Why did you become a sommelier?
I became a sommelier because I was very curious about every single aspect of the wine industry. Wine connects people with history and geography, and they were my favourite two subjects when I went to school. The more I studied, the more I wanted to know about it. For me, it is such a fascinating world.
What is your message to the young people who are passionate about becoming sommeliers?
Thinking about my past, I’ll suggest to the new generation of sommeliers to work with top sommeliers in top restaurants while they are young and energetic. Obviously, studying is very important if you’d like to become a great sommelier, but even more important for me is to remain humble and to treat everyone with respect.
When he was named the Best Sommelier of Europe and Africa ASI, Salvatore Castano impressed the audience in Limassol, Cyprus, with his self-effacing humour. His success has deep roots, as he has a long history of working in the hospitality industry, having taken a summer job in the sector in Sicily when he was aged just 15. Inspired by this to develop a career in hospitality, he took jobs in top restaurants across the globe.
Developing a particular interest in wines and spirits, he took courses to improve his knowledge. He moved to London and began working with sommeliers who had started on the Court of Master Sommelier programme and, always keen for a challenge, decided to work towards the exam himself. His success in the Best Sommelier of Europe and Africa ASI competition is the result of hard work as well as talent, as he has previously said that he would wake up early each day to study before heading off to work. Winning the contest has not dimmed Salvatore’s ambition, as he is planning to study even harder with the hope of becoming the ASI Best Sommelier in the World.