sommelier and President of the Association of Sommeliers of the Slovak Republic
Ms Beata Vlnková, sommelier and President of the Association of Sommeliers of the Slovak Republic

Q: As a sommelier, what are your favourite wineries in the area surrounding Bratislava?
Bratislava has a great advantage in that within 30 minutes you can get to the Small Carpathian wine region and visit a lot of wonderful wineries where you can directly taste many great wines. My favourite, for example, is Karpatská Perla in Šenkvice, a family owned winery established in 1991.

Q: What are your favourite events in Bratislava that are linked to wine?
Twice a year there is “Open wine cellars”, an event held in the Small Carpathian wine region. There is another great possibility to taste good wines and food during Gurman Fest, as well as there being a lot of smaller wine festivals every month, which a quick peek at www.kamzavinom.sk will give you a good idea about.

Q: What makes Slovakian wine/grapes special or unique?
Slovak winemaking has been through a huge development in recent years. The most widely grown white grape is Grűner Veltliner and the one I mentioned above from Karpatská Perla is delicious. We also have our new grapes cultivated by Mrs. Pospíšilová, for example the aromatic white grape Devín and the full and utterly opulent red grape Dunaj.

Bratislava
Photo credit: Bratislava Convention Bureau

Q: What do you think are the best possibilities for including gastronomy in the meetings industry (e.g. conferences, business meetings, events etc.)?
A lot, and the old Greeks already knew about it. The Greek symposium was a male aristocratic activity, a social gathering where men conversed and tasted wines together. They talked about specific topics, recited poetry or played music. The well-conducted symposium was a centre for the transmission of traditional values, as well as an event that provided liberation from everyday restraints.

Q: Food and drink is definitely one of the top ways of getting to know a destination. Which Slovakian wine would you recommend to a foreign visitor coming to Slovakia for the first time? Start with a glass of sparkling wine, for example from the company Hubert J.E., which was established in 1825 and was the first company in the world producing sparkling wine outside of the Champagne region. Continue with a Grűner Veltliner or Devín – refreshing spicy wines. With the main meat dish I would recommend a Blaufränkisch – the most widely grown black grape in Slovakia. To finish off the meal it is necessary to have a glass of sweet Tokaj – from the Slovak part of this unique wine region.

Q: What is the one piece of advice you would give someone trying to become a sommelier?
Taste and travel a lot! It’s better to see something once than hear about it a hundred times. Once you meet a winemaker personally you will never forget the taste of a wine and the story behind it

Photo credit: Bratislava Convention Bureau

Q: What traits or skills are required to be a successful sommelier?
Besides a huge knowledge about wine, spirits, beer, coffee and other beverages, he or she has to love people and make them happy by serving the right beverage with the right food.

Q: What are your goals in your career as a sommelier?
I run a cosy School of Wine and my goal is to get as many people into wine as possible.

Q: Which drop of wine always brings a smile to your face?
Champagne is always a good decision!

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