Paolo Basso – A dream sommelier

He has won several international titles for always being the best. In 2013, he achieved the title of "Best Sommelier in the World", in the championship that took place in Japan in Tokyo. A dream that few sommeliers can achieve.

It is an internationally recognized sommelier. Is your family connected to this area? How and when did you realize you wanted to be sommelier?
Achieving the title of 'Best Sommelier in the World' is something very special. Since 1969, only 16 Sommeliers have managed to get it. It is a great honor and, at the same time, a great responsibility. My family doesn't belong in the wine world, so I wasn't familiar. Only with great tenacity, determination and study can one achieve excellent results. I went to hospitality school because I was interested in the world of food and there I discovered the wine and realized that it was the most complex, mysterious and interesting matter in the area of food, so I decided to deepen my knowledge.

The titles accumulate in his career. 'Best Sommelier in Switzerland', 'Best Sommelier in Europe' and 'Best Sommelier in the World', among others, which is fantastic! What's your secret?
 I have these titles and several times I also reached the second places. But once we win the best titles, we have to stop competing. This is an always respected rule. Once you have reached the highest level is the right thing to give opportunity to others. But to get there we have to devote all our time, professional and free, to training. For me the secret was having my wife support me and helping me train, invest time and money in this project. All free time and vacations have been dedicated for several years to sommelier competitions.

What advice can give those who dream of ever coming to achieve the same ti
tle? My main advice is to focus on the essentials. It is important to know the regions of the world, but we must essentially focus and specialize in some of them in depth. Then, knowing how to speak a foreign language well to describe the wines in the contest is extremely important because we have to make a perfect management of time. Each test is timed in the second, there is no time to waste. 

Tell me three wines that take you to he
aven! I prefer to tell you three wine regions. Champagne, because it is the region where I started my career competing in the sommelier contests, and also because Champagne is a special wine that can be enjoyed at various times and almost every meal. Tuscany, because it's the region where I went on vacation with my wife to study wines. There is everything to spend a good time: sea, wines, gastronomy, history, landscape, culture, nature and one of the most seductive lifestyles in the world. Switzerland, because it's the country where I live and where I started my career. Despite being a small country, it has wines from various terroirs, has traditions and is a pearl in the heart of the Alps.

Do you know Portuguese wines well? I
know the essentials about Portuguese wines and your culture because in Switzerland there is a large community of Portuguese and I have worked with several. I think we are very similar because we have the same cult for gastronomy and wines. During the last 20 years Portuguese oenology has evolved a lot and I think there is room to grow even more. Portugal has to be more careful with the finesse, the balance and elegance of the wines, and not think only of the concentration of wines, the extraction of energy! 

Produces 'Il Rosso di Chiara', a red from southern Switzerland. When did you decide to produce your own wine? By
winning the title of 'Best Sommelier in the World', I came up with several professional opportunities, and producing my own wine was one of them. Deep down, I think it's a natural route, to go to the bottom of the issue. Not only work with other people's wine but also produce my wine. It's an amazing experience, even if it represents a great effort. Anyway, I'm used to challenges.

What are the characteristics of wine? I
t is a typical blend of Bordeaux: 80% Merlot, the most planted grape variety in our region, and the rest, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Thanks to global warming it is possible to have in our region - in southern Switzerland, very close to Italy - the two Cabernets cultivated with fantastic results. These two varieties give depth and complexity to the wine.


To date only five sommeliers have collected the titles of "Best Sommelier in Europe" (in 2010) and "Best Sommelier in the World" (in 2013). Paolo Basso is one of them. Outside the times you made it to the finals. It was also the "Best Sommelier in Switzerland" (in 1997) and in 2014 the 'Grandi Cru d'Italia Comitato' the most prestigious wine producers association in the country, named it 'Sommelier of the Year'. Born in Italy, he currently lives in Switzerland, and therefore has dual citizenship. After completing the hotel management studies in Sondalo, Valtellina, and after several internships in Swiss hotels and restaurants, he became fascinated with the wine world and decided to specialize in the area. The first step was to study for the professional sommelier diploma at the Association Suisse des Sommeliers Professionnels. After completing the course, he worked in several restaurants with 1 and 2 Michelin stars, holders of rare and collectible wines, which made him an expert in the area. She is the jury of one of the most prestigious international wine contests (Decanter Wine Awards Mundial) among others. It collaborates with several magazines and guides from the wine sector in Switzerland and other countries. He also works as a lecturer and wine teacher at the School of Wine of Changins in Switzerland and bordeaux's Worldsom Sommelier Academy, being a guest speaker at several seminars and gastronomy events. He currently runs his own consulting firm 'Paolo Basso Wine' in Lugano, Switzerland, and produces his own Swiss red wine 'Il Rosso di Chiara', in southern Switzerland.