Wednesday, 13, November 2019
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Inside the world of wine
With The Westbury’s Head Sommelier Philip Dunne
If you’ve ever visited The Westbury, you’ll know what an important role the sommelier plays. Whether they’re helping someone choose the perfect glass of champagne to enjoy alongside their Afternoon Tea or recommending the best bottle of Malbec to pair with a rib eye, the team of wine experts are on hand to help mark any special occasion.
And leading the team is Philip Dunne, a multi-award winning Head Sommelier who is taking the wine world by storm. We sat down with him to find out about his career, his role within The Doyle Collection and his top tips for choosing wine.
“My wine career started 9 years ago in Bang Restaurant in Dublin, where I worked closely with the owner on developing the wine list there. When I was 19, I completed the WSET (Wine Spirit Education Trust) Level 1 and soon after Level 2. By the time I was 21, I had completed WSET Level 3 and was fully responsible for the wine menu development in Bang. At 23, the opportunity arose to move to Ashford Castle as junior sommelier. Through hard work and luck, I was delighted to become Head Sommelier 6 months later. After many years of success, friendships and immersion within the wine industry, I moved back to Dublin in 2018 to become the Head Sommelier at The Westbury.
I love the fact that as a sommelier, you never stop learning, both about wine and about the role itself. Wine is a subject that is always evolving, with new regions, grape varieties, wine laws arising every year.
“Educating those who were once in my shoes is truly a blessing! In 2018, I became a WSET Educator. In the space of just one year, I have certified almost 150 of our team members, spread across The Westbury and The Croke Park with a WSET qualification.
It is truly commendable that The Doyle Collection offers this programme to their staff. Wine education and confidence in talking about wine is a priority within this great collection of hotels. The WSET programme offers theory and instils confidence. Of course staff are given specific training on their own wine lists within their individual departments.
“I've been very fortunate to have been the recipient of both national and international awards over the last few years. Some recent highlights include winning the Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator in 2019 for WILDE at The Westbury, one of our flagship restaurants and also winning Sommelier of the Year in Ireland in 2018 and 2019 - Sunday Business Post.
“A highlight for me is seeing the incredible development of sommeliers I've had the pleasure to have worked with over the last number of years. Particularly and most recently, our sommelier Vinicius in WILDE. This shining star has grown incredibly over the last year, also becoming a WSET Educator too! Without great, talented people around me such as Vinicius, I doubt we would have achieved the success we have enjoyed to date.
“When you’re choosing wine, never be afraid to ask a member of staff what their own recommendation is. Also, it is sometimes good to give them a price point to work with along with your general preference. Staff in most restaurants will usually be well-educated on their own wine list.
My top tips for choosing wine? Think Spain and Portugal! There’s incredible diversity and quality in these countries, so most wine shops and restaurants will usually have a good range. Also, take a risk on something you haven't had before… stepping outside of your comfort zone may introduce you to your new favourite wine!
I think that organic, natural and rosé wines will continue to get bigger and bigger. Every year I say that it's going to be ‘sherry’s year’. Although I'm a fan, it still has a way to go to be popular with most.
What’s the most popular order here? Rosé and bubbles, of course! The Westbury is truly a special occasion destination - where weddings, graduations, birthdays and proposals all take place. Champagne is typically the drink of choice to accompany these special moments. For more casual affairs, rosé orders (especially in the summer months) can account for more than red and white wine combined!”
To learn more about careers within our ‘world of wine’, visit our Careers website
Visit The Westbury’s website to see more about wine, restaurants and special occasions