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“One On One With The Great One” – Harald Wiesmann: The Seventh Time Winner of Wine Spectator Best Award of Excellence

Being the best in the world is not an excuse for Harald Wiesmann, Manager of Kayuputi Restaurant and Chief Sommelier of The St. Regis Bali Resort to be over the moon. Our Editor, Past Novel Larasaty, talked to the seventh time winner of wine spectator best award of excellence (2011 to 2017). Get ready to be surprised of what he actually does on his spare time, and find out his confession of opening a winery one day!


Past: Can you describe your career journey to being a sommelier?
Harald: “I started when I was 15 years old as an apprentice in a 1 star Michelin Restaurant in my home town Marktheidenfeld, in Germany, then I continue my journey as a waiter around England, Scotland, Switzerland, Vienna, in Ritz Paris, and also on a cruise ship. Then I went to a Hotel Management School in Berlin for two years and after I graduated, I spent most of my time in Switzerland for some time before finally deciding to become a Sommelier in 1993; this year marks my 24th year of being a Sommelier.”


Past: Personally, what makes wine a special beverage and different than others?
Harald: “Because of its long and legendary history, Also the Greek history where wine was very appreciated and historical”


Past: How important is a perfect pairing between food and wine?
Harald: “I would say without wine, food cannot taste very good. Not everyone knows how to pair food and wine. First, you have to savor the food with the sauce and let it melt in your mouth, and on top of all of that, sip a bit of your preferred wine before chewing them all together. You will find that the wine enhances the food, or even sometimes the food enhances the wine, and when they complement each other well, it is called as the perfect pairing. Some people choose the wine because of the food, and some people choose the food because of the wine. It really depends on how you pair them.”


Past: What is your favorite food & wine combination?
Harald: “My favorite is the classical pair of Rose Vintage Port with Blue cheese. It is very special because when the sweet wine meets the blue cheese, it will melt in your mouth and it gives you an unforgettable experience and taste. You will never forget that! I also fancy Penfolds, Almavina, Montes, and Julius Spital wines”


Past: What is the best wine you have tasted so far? And why?
Harald: “I would say there are hundreds of it! Cannot be less than that! Well one of the best is 1997 Barolo from Bruno Giacosa from Piedmont in Italy, it is very very good. It is one of the most elegant red wines in the world and it gives his power away after 2 hour, and it’s fantastic, especially if you put the right amount (40 ml) of it in to your mouth when tasting”


Past: Can you name a wine and where it’s from just by tasting it?
Harald: “I can for some, because now there are numerous wineries you know, in 60s and 70s, sommeliers could identify wines easier than today. Nowadays, some of the wines have exploded and one must know more than the old way wines.”

Photo Courtesy of The St. Regis Bali Resort

Past: Now, what are your top tips for those who haven’t tasted wine, like ever? What wine would you suggest?
Harald: “I would say start with Martini, then go to nice sweet white wine, a demi sec (half sweet) wine, not too sweet not to dry wine, then then I would say dry white wine, then sweet red wine and finally dry red wine Red wine is more complex so I’ll suggest it’s the last one.”


Past: Is food and wine pairing okay for a beginner?
Harald: “Of course, it’s a great experience. It’s great to combine the food and the wine together for a starter. It’s a very good experience to see how they enhance each other. Also you can put the wine on the side, as well as the food on the side. Some wines alone are not good, but when you put food in that, it’s better.”


Past: What is the best wine event that you have attended? How was it?
Harald: “Whew there are so many. I had one in France in Bordeaux, it was a two star Michelin Restaurant at the Chateau Lynch Bages, they gave us a 9-course menu, different wines. It began with white wines, then move on to the collection of their wine cellars, and dessert with red wine. It was the best!”


Past: What’s your wine philosophy? Any quotes you want to say about life and wine in general?
Harald: “I think yes. If you drink wine, you are drinking at least three glass of water with the wine. You should drink water to wine too because it’s good for your health.”


Past: Now what do you love the most about your job?
Harald: “It’s great and challenging, I’m fond of wine and it’s always good to find people to talk about wine, share with them what I know, my skill and their interest, so I can share and teach so much about wine.


Past: How hard is it to manage Kayuputi?
Harald: “When it comes to the supply, rare wines are hard to get and sometimes it gets a long way from Jakarta, back and forth to the origin country of the wine, especially when the stock is out.”


Past: Do you have any idol or favorite Sommelier that you adore and aspire?
Harald: “Marie Helene Krebs, she works in famous hotel, Schloss Elmau Bavaria in Germany and she’s a very good Sommelier and a kind individual.”


Past: What do you think of Sommelier as a job?
Harald: “Sommeliers are actually someone who stands in front of the guests, talk and suggest about wine from table to table, and the guests should see you as the guy who knows the wine.


Past: In your spare time, other than wine, how do you describe your life?
Harald: “I am a family man, I have 7 year old and 10 year old sons. I write about food and wine regularly, I also play table tennis very well, and mostly I love to write and read during my spare time.”


Past: Do you picture yourself having your one vineyard or winery one day? Where and how?
Harald “No, I am not a winemaker, I could be a wine seller, I love to talk about wine, I love the story and history, I love to be inspired by them, but not as an owner, and I want to stay like that.”


Past: Lastly, what is your impression of Eat Vacation Media?
Harald: “I think it’s good, very informative, you give guide to people of where to go and what to do, and people now know many travel information from you”

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