On a warm Friday evening at La Vinya del Senyor, the emblematic wine bar just across the famed Santa Maria del Mar Basilica in Barcelona, Barcelona Wine Tastings (BWT) sat down Gaby Di Nardo (GDN), a Riesling-loving, WSET Level III certified sommelier working for Vila Viniteca, a key player in Spain’s wine industry.
We were curious about her journey to becoming a sommelier. Here is her story.
BWT: HI Gaby! How are you today?
GDN: Hi! I’m great. Very happy to be here.
BWT: We are looking forward to hearing your story and learning about wine through you, so let’s get started! How long did it take you to become a sommelier?
GDN: I came to Barcelona in 2014, and began a two-year degree at the University of Barcelona School of Tourism, Hospitality and Gastronomy CETT, and after that, I received my sommelier diploma. But…the study of wine is an endless path, because right now I am doing my WSET level 4, and hopefully the Master of Wine after that!
BWT: What made you decide to become a sommelier?
GDN: Well, [it] started when I was working in a restaurant, and I found myself getting very involved in the wine menu. What really made me decide to start a path in wine was when winemakers would come to the restaurant, describe their wines, their wineries and what they do. I found it a very passionate business. So, I said someday, I would love to work in that kind of environment…filled with such passion.
BWT: What were you doing when you worked in the restaurant?
GDN: I was a manager, working front of the house…not wine related. So, I took it upon myself to start studying wine on my own.
BWT: Did you wait to apply for a wine job until after you had your sommelier certification?
GDN: I think the more you expose yourself, the more you learn. So once I started studying, and had a base, I decided to apply for a job to enrich my studying. I started working for a large Cava producer in Spain. I worked there for 2 years while finishing my studies. It was an intense time with work and studying, but it was completely worth it and I believe it helped me with the path I am on today.
BWT: Do you think it’s worth it to be a certified sommelier, or do you think it’s easy to get into wine without credentials?
GDN: I think you could get into the wine world without credentials--you learn so much just by reading, traveling and tasting--but it would take a much longer time to learn everything you learn about wine as opposed to when you go for the degree. What I learned in 2 years, would take a much longer time without a degree. Wine is a wonderful hobby, but if you want to dedicate your professional life to that, I think getting a degree is better.
BWT: What do you do at Vila Viniteca?
GDN: I work directly with customers, so it’s more of a commercial kind of sommelier. There are 2 types of sommeliers, the ones working in restaurants serving wines, and the ones that work with customers in shops. That is what I do, and I also give tastings.
BWT: Are you enjoying it?
GDN: Yes, very much. I love working with people, and I am always passionate about trying to figure out the taste the customer is looking for, and matching that to a wine.
BWT: So if someone was to come in looking for a red wine, robust and from Italy let’s say, you would know what to do?
GDN: Hahaha! Yes, that’s my every day.
BWT: So you’re learning every day?
GD: Yes, every single day! Always from my customers and from my team.
BWT: Thank you so much Gaby for speaking with us today! You are on an amazing wine journey and we wish you all the best
Follow Gaby on instagram as she tastes her way through the wine world @gabymeetswine.