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Photo for: Joanna Nerantzi Pouring Iconic Bottles at 67 Pall Mall


Joanna Nerantzi Pouring Iconic Bottles at 67 Pall Mall

67 Pall Mall is a favourite even amongst Sommeliers, to grab a glass of wine that usually turns to many. Joanna Nerantzi adds to the appeal as the Senior Sommelier there.

Your current place of work

67 Pall Mall.

Tell us about yourself

My name is Joanna Nerantzi, I was born and grew up in Greece. For the last two years, I’m based in London, working for 67 Pall Mall, currently as a Senior Sommelier.


Indeed, the amazing experience of international hospitality started for me from the wine Mecca of the world. Earlier this year I acquired my Certified Sommelier title from the Court of Masters Sommeliers of Europe. I’m a keen wine student & a lifelong learner. Passionate about creating experiences for myself first & then for other people.

Why did you want to become a sommelier?

There are hundreds of reasons that I like being a sommelier but to be honest I did not decide to become one. I became a sommelier and realised it afterward!

Ioanna Nerantzi

"I was always energetic, curious & unsatisfied. Three main ingredients for a sommelier lifestyle." - Joanna Nerantzi

Energetic as you need to work on the floor many hours per week, curious to learn everything about behind a label as wine is always the people and the story behind, unsatisfied as you have to compromise with the failure every single day and it makes you stronger.

Study plans that you threw into the bin, wine tastings, classes, and training that you missed because you were tired,  wine books that arrived from Amazon and you did not have time to open them yet, never-ending study sessions, and that feeling that you never know enough! To be strong-willed is required.

I have been working in hospitality since….forever! Luckily working next to people that had the passion and this deep love for hospitality & service. So I was absorbing all this passion for a long time.

Always excited about offering great service & an experience that someone won’t forget easily, I fell in love with wine in my late 20’s but for good! And here I am.

How according to you has the role of the sommelier evolved, especially now during Covid times?

During the lockdowns, the sarcastic part was that you were “losing’’ your job when you had more time to study than ever! I guess you cannot have everything…

One way or another a sommelier is restaurant staff. A position away from desks & computers.

You are asking if the role evolved or not according to my opinion? A cube has many square faces!

From my experience, we completely changed our point of view. We have been in a position to sit back and observe what we do how our professional reality is how we can improve it or how and what we do can adapt to the current state of the internet. Something extremely new for hospitality staff.

For sure our role changed. It was nice to see colleagues advising on wine purchases, speaking for floor and service experiences, and being able to offer wine tasting experiences via a mac from their house. Talented and extremely knowledgeable people that sometimes you cannot meet around or in glamorous events had the opportunity to show what they do and how good they are via zoom, online webinars, and social media videos.

But let’s be honest. Everybody in hospitality is relieved that that era came to an end.

I have to say though, 67 Pall Mall sommeliers were more active than ever.

What are some of the most important skills for a sommelier to have?

A Sommelier is a person responsible for the wine service on one or more tables.

I would say that the most important thing is to have a fire of hospitality inside you. Having love & passion for service is the first and the last thing. Becoming a good sommelier has to do with how hospitable you are with the customers, your colleagues & yourself.

Although there are many important other skills for a person that works in this position.

I am a big supporter of attitude. It is more important who you are than what you know. Becoming a good sommelier has to do with communication skills as usually either you work with people that cannot understand what you are doing and how important it is or guests that want to learn more of what you do.

Ioanna Nerantzi

Being an enthusiastic taster is a skill that Joanna Nerantzi takes quite seriously. "Like it or not we taste lots of wines every single day…We like it!" she says.

Being a team player is one of the fundamentals. If you choose not to be one, you can barely survive in hospitality.

Disciplined. Be as good as possible on the floor, meet your timelines, study plans, becoming better than you were yesterday.

In our job, everything is about precision, timing, and excellence.

What do you look for when you plan to buy wine for your business?

My current position does not include wine purchases. Although I’m lucky enough to work with the greatest wine list ever in terms of range which is seldom for a sommelier.

Your favorite places to enjoy great wine in London?

67 Pall Mall!!!

What? Excluded on this occasion? Fair Enough…

I do not know if you have friendships with many sommeliers but usually either we work or we study! Social life & outgoing habits are our nature but that is not convenient at all as we need personal time for our studies. Although once per month I will have a glass in the Black Book or The 10 Cases in Soho.

What is your approach to matching food and wine?

I have three! The result is a mixture of the below in any order.

What grows together, goes together

I’m obsessed with the uniqueness of regionality.

“Listen & Create”

Listen to the guests when describing what they want. Food and wine are about what the guest likes, his/her mood, spending preferences, occasion, ideas, current favourites.

Keep it simple”.

If you had to pick one red and one white wine as your personal best, which wines would they be?

2003 Scharzhofberger Kabinnet From Egon Müller & 1989 Château Le Tertre-Roteboeuf.

What's the best part of your job?

First of all, tasting wine! Just kidding...

The people! Via this job, you have the opportunity to meet people from around the world, different cultures, different tastes, different languages, different everything.

The different “faces” and the multicultural environment and who you become trying to understand, explore & learn in a world full of differences under the same language (wine) is the best part.

What are 5 challenges you normally face in your job and how do you tackle that?

Long hours. Hospitality jobs are all about multi-tasking when a sommelier’s time is all about deep focus. There are many & different ways to tackle this! Usually, I will use a deep study session on my day off with no distractions & away from electronic devices.

Communication. Usually, you have to communicate with many people that cannot understand exactly what wine service is about. Takes lots of time and energy for a member of the hospitality team to be convinced of how important is the wine to be served at the correct temperature, in the correct glass, decanted or not, the correct time that needs to be served on a table, the correct time of the glassware set up, the information that the guest needed to give you about his/hers preferences and of course the responsibility that you have when tasting a wine, including your opinion.

I am trying to be always as prepared as possible & explain constantly to my colleagues what I’m doing and why I’m doing it for you!

Constant stressful situations. Part of our life! In hospitality, you are dealing with many different problems every single second. You need to be a problem solver without losing your patience and your smile.

Lack of consistency: many hours in a restaurant doesn’t support exactly many hours of study - on a long-term basis it becomes exhausting- I try to spend one day in very good study scheduling and be as consistent as possible.

Motivation: Hospitality is a great industry to work for. Although if you want to keep yourself motivated on a long-term basis you need to be disciplined and take care of yourself like you are an athlete. Exercise, eat healthily, rest properly, and learn every day.

Any favorite food and wine pairing suggestions for London drinks enthusiasts?

Assyrtiko (barrel-aged) and Grilled Scorpionfish.

I started my sommelier career in Santorini & Assyrtiko takes me back. It will always be my favourite variety due to its purity and sharpness!

Any tips for wine brands trying to grow in on-trade and how they can help sommeliers?

Sommeliers sell wine by the glass or by the bottle every single second. But we sell what we like, know & have tasted before. Sommeliers are the ones that communicate the brands, create wine lists, create by the glass lists , serve & sell wine better than anyone. Sommeliers' choices are the most popular sales in a restaurant. The greatest influencers in hospitality are the people that are in contact with the guest.

Explain your weekly tasks, please go in detail about what all you do.

Many things in our “job routine” is not tasting wine and talking with wine lovers about wine. These usually belong in the preparation process and the organisation of the bins.

Mondays I will organise the by-the-glass selection and I will check that the service equipment that we need is enough for the whole week.

Tuesday to Friday are busy days in the United Kingdom and the best days to focus on customer service and how you can improve it. This includes organising the reservations, the floor sections for each member of the team as well as small tastings/training. I am trying to take as much feedback as possible from the guests and the team members. Feedback makes you better and stronger.

Saturday is my favourite day for writing down what needs to be ordered, change, sharing week’s favourites with the team, opinions and the most important part: deep cleaning of the house & sommelier’s essential equipment.

What's your personal career goal? And how are you investing or planning to get there?

It would be impossible to have the answer to this question at the moment. From my point of view, everything has to do with the “present” and how much I enjoy what I am doing at the moment.

Of course, there are many & different plans. The greatest thing about London is that your plans keep getting better every single day.

My current investment is working & studying a lot!  I’m focusing on where I want to go. Hospitality is so demanding that if you are not focused enough you will lose the bigger picture. Everything else is moments that are passing by.

Give us one good story that you remember of a customer and you.

Every single day is a good story in hospitality. Sit down with a sommelier every single night and will have something new & exciting to tell you about. It’s charming to live our lives.

If I can share something great was one quiet night when three gentlemen entered the restaurant with no reservation and requested a table. As soon as they sat down I offered them the wine list and they smiled at me. The next moment I was holding in my hands the five first growth Châteaux of Bordeaux from 1982 vintage!!! (Vintage of the century for the wine lovers)

I was almost shaking as I was preparing the wines

Later I realised that the three of them were old friends who travelled from San Francisco, New York & Melbourne that night to meet each other and share these great wines. I will never forget the atmosphere of that table or how it feels to share so much passion for something.

The magic of hospitality reaches a different dimension when great bottles of wine arrive on a table.

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