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100 Stories: Q&A with Sabino Iacobone, Head Sommelier of Mezzaluna

“Either give me more wine or leave me alone.” Rumi, All the questions you ever wanted to ask a sommelier but didn’t know who to ask!

Q&A with Sabino Iacobone, Head Sommelier of Mezzaluna.
Sabino comes from Southern Italy. He has been working at Mezzaluna for nearly two years with “many more to come”.

Q. Why did you come to Thailand?
A. “I was very interested in coming to Thailand and working for Mezzaluna, a two star Michelin Restaurant in a five star Hotel. It was a new adventure, an amazing life and career experience.”

Q. When did you become interested in wine?
A. “In Italy the wine and food culture is very strong. So I have been interested since I can remember. But I studied about wines and spirits in London.”

Q. Do you have a have a ‘palate memory’ containing the flavours and colours of wine?
A. “I do have a palate and nose memory. But I also have a book where I keep notes about all the many wines I taste (there are a lot!)

Q. Does it really matter what wine is served with a particular food or dish?
A. “Absolutely. Food that is consumed with wine has an effect on the way a wine tastes, and wine can also affect the taste of food. The purpose of food and wine pairing is to take advantage of these effects, so that the food and consumed together ideally provide more pleasure than either would if consumed separately.”

Q. What should I think about when matching wine with food?
A. “The full experience of having a nice meal with a prefect wine: it should be a harmonious combination with nothing outweighing anything else.”

Q. Are there foods that are impossible to match with wine?
A. “Not impossible… but let’s say eggs - they are very difficult to match with wine and food with high levels of umami (Japanese savoury flavour)

Q. Is pairing Asian food a different art?
A. “Yes, because they have many different flavours in one dish. So you need to think very carefully when you matching wine with Asian food. It is more challenging.

Q. Why does everyone talk about tannins and acidity?
A. “These factors play very important role in selecting the right wine because, for example, wines with high acidity go well with salmon, oyster or caviar because the acidity cuts through the fattiness of the dish. The tannins in red wine helps reduce the greasiness of some red meat. And wine with high tannins and high acidity are very good to age, developing amazing flavours during the many years in bottles.”

Q. When is wine at its peak?
A. It depends always on the type of wine. For some big reds, the peak is between 15-20 years, for others it is best to drink is before 5 years.”

Q. Should I decant?
A. “ It depends on the type of Red wine. The most important reason to decide to decant is the age of the wine and natural sediment inside the bottle.”

Q. Why does wine give me headaches?
A. “If you drink a lot, of course! But some people are very sensitive to sulphites found in wine…so that’s affect the headaches even for one or two glasses! But  luckily  I’m not one of those people… I have more headache with ladies (laughs)