Pairing people with wine

Stephanie Rigourd

Tastemaker, Sommelier

At the age of 28, Stephanie Rigoud already has an impressive wine resume that dates back almost a decade and a half from when she first started out harvesting and winemaking in France. She then went on to complete her Formation Complémentaire d’Initiative locale de Sommellerie, with special mention of the jury at the Technologic Hospitality High School of Tain-L’Hermitage in France.

When did you first discover your love for wine?

My dad brought me to the French “Wine Universe” when I was little. Growing up I was dipping Brittany biscuits in my Dad’s red wine and by that time I knew I had fallen in love with wine.

Another instance was when I saw the French movie classic ”L’aile ou la cuisse” where famous actor Louis de Funes is looking through a glass of wine and was able to say what it was!  I was really impressed by it and I told myself I would like to be able to do the same. Later on, I decided to pursue my studies in wine and try my luck in this industry!

What is your favorite wine/grape?

I do not have any favourite wine or grape. It’s just like if you like women, you like any type of women! If you like wine, you like any type of good wine, as long as it is made with passion, is well-born, and well made. I just like all good wine!

Who is your Palate Icon ?

Wine makers impress me a lot. In particular, I have a lot of respect for Hubert de Montille who unfortunately passed away. I had the chance to spend a lot of time with him and it was a formidable learning experience.

The second person is Maître Sommelier Pascal Bouchet, my mentor. The manner in which he speaks about wine is amazing. He can truly share and pass on his passion for wine, and totally got me hooked.

The last one would be Michel Chapoutier. He approaches the wine in a funny, creative way and it is very humbling to see him at work!

What is your favorite wine anecdote?

When I began at the Hilton, there was lot of wine outside inventory like left over from past wine dinners. When I checked it, I noticed many old bottles which were not in inventory. I asked my boss if I could open a few bottles, just for tasting, and he gave me his approval to go ahead.

One of them was an Echezeaux from Dominique Laurent. It was a very young vintage and the protection around the cork was very strange. I decided to taste it out of curiosity. I was wearing a white tee-shirt that day and when I opened the wine, the cork literally exploded, like a bottle of champagne. Where it should have been a still Grand Cru red wine, it was completely sparkling and I was all wet. When I saw Dominique Laurent the year after, I shared with him the story. Funnily, he told me that in fact, he brought some wine samples he took straight out of the barrels. Fermentation wasn’t finished and it restarted in the bottle!! That was predictable knowing that now, but at that time it really caught me off-guard!

Why should people be excited about wine?

People should be excited, and in a very casual way! They should be excited because wine has the power to bring people together and especially to get conversations flowing! An evening with beautiful wines is for sure a memorable and exciting evening. When you open a bottle of wine, that reflects the winemaker’s work. You discover a personality, an area, a place as well as that person’s character. It is something very special and human.

Credits

  • Certification: Sommelier Hospitality High-school of Tain-L’Hermitage
  • Accreditation: The Wandering Palate Sommelier of the Year 2012, Alumn of Le Charlemagne (1 Michelin Star), Hilton Worldwide Group in Singapore and Indonesia, Current Wine Director for The Raffles Hotel Singapore.


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