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Photo for: Romans Daleckis: how I followed my dream to be a top sommelier


Romans Daleckis: how I followed my dream to be a top sommelier

Romans Daleckis gave up on a career as a journalist to follow a new dream of becoming a top sommelier and the key skills you need to succeed as a sommelier.

How did you get into the drinks industry?

I was an assistant to a journalist back home in Latvia and had a special task to go to London and do interview with one of the representatives of the embassy in UK. After the interview I was invited to one of the trendy restaurants in London for dinner. It was the first time I had been in the UK and I did not think at the time that dinner would change my life forever. 

I have always been a naturally curious person, and asked the waiter why there was such big differences in the price of the wines. The waiter then called over the sommelier - at the time I did not even know such a profession existed - and the sommelier took their time to explain to me all the differences there were in the wines by the glass. I was surprised and impressed at the same time and spent the rest of the evening watching how the sommelier worked. 

The next day I got up and started to do some research about what it took to become a sommelier and how I also could get a job in the UK wine industry. That’s when I decided to leave the camera and microphone behind and not look to become a journalist, but started my first job working at Roka in Charlotte Street in London polishing glasses and learning how to become a commis sommelier.

Romans Daleckis, Head Sommelier at URLA Restaurant & Lounge

How did you progress into your current role?

My biggest achievement yet in my career has been given the chance to work in a two star Michelin restaurant with an amazing team, a super star chef and a huge wine list that you can’t stop exploring. I have also been taking my WSET and Master Sommelier exams to improve my skills and try and learn as much as I can about this endless topic of wine.

If you were given a restaurant to fix their wine program and grow wine sales where would you start and what steps would you to take?

I like numbers and wine so I would definitely start by looking at the sales statistics, and then carry out an analysis of the buying team to see what wines are being bought and how many are being sold on a regular basis. I would also spend a couple of days in the kitchen to see and taste what style of dishes are being made, how they are being cooked so that I can best understand the types of wine that might go with them.

I would then look to work with the team on the floor carrying out tastings of the core wines and looking at their sales ability and how they talk to customers.

That’s when I would build my plan as to what was the right wine program for that outlet. A wine list that was focused on choosing the right wines that we know will go with the food and that the team will be able to sell. The team is the key to success in this game.

What do you most look for and want from wine suppliers to help drive sales?

There are so many things that good suppliers can do to help sommeliers. Be it advice on how to sell certain wines, through to giving us a chance to go on wine trips and discover the wines for ourselves. We also need support with tastings and samples so that we can talk to the sommelier team about the wines we are selling.

What does success look like for you from a wine program - what are the key ways to show success?

You need to have a good balanced wine list where you have price friendly wines on your list and a good diversity of styles. You have to put yourself in the shoes of your customers. What would they like to see on the list and have the chance to experience, rather than have another 'everyday wine' to taste. It’s important that you are always testing yourself and your team to make sure you are looking to explore and find different wines to list and sell.

What are the key things you look for in a sommelier when recruiting for a new roles?

Being a good sommelier is about having a strong personality as much as it is the profession of knowing a lot about wine. You want to find a person who loves what they do. Passion for hospitality and understanding what hospitality in general stands for. Knowledge and skills you always can learn.

Call for domestic and international submission is now open for London Wine Competition. Enter your wines before 31 August 2024 to get super early bird pricing. Register now and ship later to save.

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