Talking Wine with the BaxterStorey Service Academy

In celebration of English Wine Week, we caught up with the Service Academy team Gabi Le Roux and Herve Palazzo to talk wine regions and food pairings.

What is your wine order?
Gabi: I am obsessed with white aromatics, such as Rieslings and Albarino. They are intense and beautiful, and work like magic with Asian and Indian foods. If I’m drinking red, it’s got to be an Italian; they have so much character intensity to them. A South African Chenin Blanc is my house wine, of course!

Herve: My go to white wine will always be a Burgundy. I enjoy red wine more; my favourite is an Italian Sangiovese or Nebbiolo. These wines have matured for a long time before being sold on the market. They are beautiful!

What do you enjoy most about being a BaxterStorey Service Academy trainer?
Gabi: I love working in the learning and development, while still being so closely connected to managers and our front of house teams. Every location is so varied, which makes my role exciting as every day is different.

Herve: Without a doubt, the most rewarding part is seeing our front of house stars that I have trained, grow and build their confidence.

If you could drink wine with anyone, who would it be and why?
Gabi: My Dad, he’s my best friend. He works as a viticulturist back at home in South Africa and growing up I remember spending my school holidays with him visiting his clients and walking through their vineyards. I was usually on the back of the ‘bakkie’ with the farm dog! It’s my favourite memory and probably why I have such a close relationship with wine.

Herve: Jimi Hendrix, so he could teach me how to play the guitar.

What’s been your career highlight to date?
Gabi: Winning an Acorn Award in 2018. It was a great moment of recognition and it made leaving South Africa to start my career journey in England worthwhile.

Herve: Working at Michelin Star Auberge du Lac in Hertfordshire as an Assistant Manager/Sommelier, I learnt so much about working in a team, service excellence and of course the fine wines.

What’s the art to pairing food with wine?
Gabi: There are no rules so don’t take it too seriously! Try to focus on the basics and aim to match the intensity of the food with the intensity of the wine. Asian style food pairs really well with aromatic white wines like Riesling, especially if it’s made in an off-dry style.

Herve: Everyone has their personal preferences, but some pairings do work really well. I really enjoy grilled fish with an Italian dry white wine, such as Gavi Di Gavi. The freshness and moderate acidity of the wine acts as a palate cleanser.

What do you see as your next step in your journey of wine?
Gabi: I’d like to start my WSET Level 4 Diploma and continue to keep learning and training. Travelling to different wine regions is top of the list too!

Herve: Exploring different wine regions so I can enhance my knowledge and share what I’ve learnt with our Service Academy superstars.

Want to know more about our Service Academy? Find out more on our academies page.

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