Gabriel Kollar was recently crowned Best Sommelier of Slovakia 2019. It represented a strong affirmation of his decision to return to the country after a number of years working in London as a head sommelier within the Gordon Ramsey empire. Kollar first entered the sommelier profession in 2006 while training in hotel management and has never stopped learning. He is currently studying for his Level 4 diploma at WSET while working as Head Sommelier at The Taste Wine Bar and Restaurant in Bratislava.
Q: How is the profession in your country?
It’s developing towards better knowledge and service. However, there is still a lot of work to do. We have a few sommeliers in Slovakia, but the younger generation is quite interested in this profession.
Q: What was / is the biggest challenge working as a sommelier in Slovakia for you?
The biggest challenge is that the best sommeliers are not in restaurants. They are either working for wine distributors, sales representatives or having their own business. At hotels, they are mostly part of management, where they have a lot of other duties rather than solely looking after wines and service.
Q: How will this title change, or how has it already changed your life?
For me it is the same. I’m standing on the ground and will try to do my best for a good result in Cyprus.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
I would like to successfully finish the Level 4 diploma and share my passion with the younger generation of sommeliers in Slovakia.
Q: How is the wine culture in Slovakia?
It’s a hard fight between hard liquor, beer and wine. We have historical heritage in wine culture that we are maintaining and enriching. Although the average consumption has declined in the past decade, there are many more wine events, tastings with more and more new wine lovers and wineries every year. I have a positive outlook about it. Feel free to visit Slovakia and experience our wines.