Ziggy Grinbergs

The Master Sommelier

Ziggy Grinbergs is a lover of all things wine and it is a trait that Brighton’s Hotel du Vin is benefiting from

Interview by Daniel White

Hotel du Vin is renown for its vast selection of fine wines.

It is the very lifeblood of the bar and bistro. With over 30 Sommelier’s throughout the company there is a wealth of skill that any hotel in the world would envy and no one knows this better than Brighton’s Hotel du Vin Head Sommelier, Ziggy Grinbergs.

“People come in and the name Hotel du Vin is there, this is what we do, so the expectation is usually very high,” explains Ziggy, the highest ranked Sommelier throughout HDV. “Hotel du Vin is the restaurant and hotel but it’s also very much an educational establishment. So I would ideally like to think that people would come here for advice or maybe just to learn something new about wine.”

Ziggy has a vast knowledge of wines, with many years experience as a Sommelier as well as working in the hospitality business; a place where he developed his passion into more than just a hobby.

“I started to work in hospitality when I was 17 back home, so first as a waiter working in the restaurant but the interest in wine was always there,” he reflects.

“There’s a difference in drinking wine and thinking there is some sort of fruity flavour to drinking the wine and thinking what you are actually smelling or tasting and then suddenly these flavours start to talk to you and that was very interesting for me, that one moment when I suddenly thought that I would like to know more about this.”

The Latvian-born Sommelier moved to England ten years ago where he quickly gained qualifications through the Wine and Spirit Education Trust. Hotel du Vin contains up to 30 Sommeliers currently embarking on different stages of the WSET, however, Ziggy has moved beyond the rest by passing the Court of Master Sommelier and he is not finished yet.

“It is just like an addiction,” he laughs. “Once you start there’s no turning back because that little bit of knowledge makes you understand a little bit more and makes you enjoy the wine a bit more but you know that there is so much more to learn which is slightly irritating but also an incredibly exciting thing!”

His role as the Head Sommelier involves updating the wine list, changing the vintages, stock rotation and wine tasting classes, however, his favourite job is the interaction with guests.

“My favourite part is what’s happening in the front of the house, when the evening comes we are almost on show,” confesses Ziggy. “To see people coming in for a special meal with not much of an idea of what they want and at the end of the meal if they can say that the food was amazing but it was actually lifted another level because of the wine I suggested, then that’s pretty much my job done.”

After many years as a Sommelier, Ziggy admits he is very fortunate to have found a job where he has no regrets.

He says: “I think that it’s a very good way not just to work but to live your life. I’ve never looked back really, I think that it was probably the best decision I have made so far.”

Hotel du Vin Brighton hosts Wine Tastings on the first Wednesday of every month for £25 per person exploring different parts of the world, so to book a session or for more information please call 0844 736 4251.