Judging a Sommelier: Wine Lists and Events

My Inner Voice | Written By, Harald Wiesmann |

This year marks the seventh time that Kayuputi Restaurant at The St. Regis Bali Resort, has received the Wine Spectator Award with two glasses. This means that we are still the only restaurant in Indonesia who has achieved this. Many people say that it would be easy to get this award, with some saying “You only have to pay $250 to the Wine Spectator Office in New York and it is done”. 

H and WS

Harald Wiesmann

If it is so easy, then there should be at least 20 Restaurants with this “Award of Excellence” of which you only can apply for if you have at least 400 wines on your wine list.

For myself I would like to see many more Restaurants achieving this Award by putting a respectful amount of different wines on their wine lists. But how does one do this is the question? Below are some of the attributes of a successful sommelier:

  • Knowledgable about wine varieties and their characters to match the dishes the chef is preparing.
  • To write a wine list in the right order. Champagne, White wine, Rosé wine, Red wine, Sweet Wine, Big Bottles – small bottles, wine by the glass, Sake.
  • To write the information on the wine list that most effectively informs the reader of where the wine is coming from and what kind of quality it may have.
  • Knowledge of wine years and its differentials in wine areas around the world.
  • To read the wine labels on the bottles which in turn informs the right price and the right descriptions at first hand.
  • To store the wine in fridges, wine cellars and store with the right temperature.
  • To have a system of how to find 400 different wines in the restaurant. This is actually one of the greater challenges of a Chief Sommelier for when he/she is off duty..
  • To have trained staff who can explain to the guests where to find the different kinds of wines like dry, demi sec, sweet, full bodied, oaky and light. Again this is important for when the Chief Sommelier is off duty.
  • To know about food and wine matching and that you can explain why a Roquefort and a Sauternes match or why a black Risotto with grilled Prawns matches with a great Chilean Almaviva wine.
  • To know about glass types and that you really make sure that Burgundy type wines are served in a Burgundy glass and Bordeaux type wines are in a Bordeaux glass. Same goes for Champagne glasses, sweet wine glasses and so on. It is imperative to pay proper attention to the decantation of wine and also the preservation of open bottles through the use of the Verre de Vin system.
  • Keeping up with reading about wine and tasting whenever it is possible.

Once you feel really good about all the points above, this should qualify you to send your wine list from the restaurant you work at to the Wine Spectator office in New York. However today there are so many who call themselves Sommelier because they receive a certificate at some kind of Sommelier school, event or course. But if you call yourself a Sommelier then show us your wine list.  The wine list will tell the public if there is a real Sommelier around or not. That does also mean that if you have a certificate of being a Sommelier than you actually should aim for at least 1 glass Award from Wine Spectator which is called “Award of Excellence”. Kayuputi Restaurant at The St. Regis Bali Resort has been awarded for more than 7 years now. So please, all Bali Sommeliers, show the world that Bali has good to great wine lists.

So cheers to good wine lists


To want your wine spectator’s two glasses
Is like
To dive into hundreds of wines
Red, white, sparkle, rose and sweet
To taste and chew them
Nearly like a tiger it does
To think you all were a fleshly wine

Than to write you down
You 400 and more wines of joy
In a book for wine lovers
We call them wine lists
There I sign your names in,
Some are world famous like
Sassicaia, Latour, Opus One,
Almaviva and so on.
And place you in areas,
The old world first
And the new world second
And I control your birth years of greatness

Your pricing is the most difficult task
Because as much as 10 different companies,
People, suppliers, tax takers and sup distributers
Have made money with you already.
Far and not so far away.
Alas I try my best.

Than I send you to Award making people
Like the one we celebrate today.
Wine Spectator called
And they did approve
Already 5 times in a row
The 2 glasses you see today
Here in Kayuputi
Oh how wonderful to have you.


A Child who sees the Sommelier,
does cover right away, behind the back of mother,
it laughs tears oh dear so many, they give phantasms,
the highest children fun,
and the child says:
he has a skirt and is hoping like a buck.
Another being,
sees in the Sommelier of the first sight
a holy man,
and he thinks:
Who is walking like he does,
in such fine cloth, must be blessed.
However, so much is his disappointment,
when he sees,
that the assumed cross,
is only a bowl, also called
“Taste De Vin“ in wine circles,
on the Sommelier sublime chest.
Again another individual
is terrified with the Sommelier,
if face to face
indeed no hat is seen on the top of the Wine Master,
nevertheless he equals
a grave-digger
who does shovel the tomb,
in the moon light,
for the dead. 

Now, to all who are not sure yet,
what he is,
the Sommelier,
I may say:
“he is a man like you and me,
only, he loves the wine,
like a fisher the sea,
like a servant his master,
and in his bowl will always be wine
and not water from the holy ghost,
his skirt is an apron
which shields his trouser
also does keep his finger dry
from the wine of Bacchus,
and who is thinking,
that he operates with Sir Death,
he is not wrong in thoughts,
as the Sommelier says:
“If you drink to much
without a bite,
than you are alike a soldier
in an warfare trench,
already seen by your foe“.
Now, you know ,
who he is the Sommelier,
he travels like a tramp,
from wine to wine,
speaks well,
like a trying to do good priest,
have mystic’s thoughts for the ones
who take too much
from the drink of Dionysus
and he is merry
with thoughts
he received from children every day.

Harald Wiesmann, Restaurant Manager of the fine dining, Asian-inspired Haute Cuisine Kayuputi and Chief Sommelier at The St. Regis Bali Resort, has a very interesting career history spanning a number of years with different roles in various countries. His 45 years of international experience has led Kayuputi to receive prestigious awards from the Wine Spectator Magazine (USA) for seven consecutive years since its opening nine years ago, and dubbed as a fine restaurant that has one of the best wine lists in the Asian region. Harald is set to publish his book, titled “The Inner Voice of a Sommelier in Bali” in the near future we hope.



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