After gaining a formal hospitality education in France, Matthieu Longuère moved to England in 1994 to launch a career that would see him hold senior sommelier positions in the country’s leading hotels and restaurants such as the five-star Lucknam Park Country House Hotel and the luxury boutique hotel Hotel du Vin. After being awarded Best Sommelier UK in 2000, Matthieu joined Michelin-star restaurant La Trompette as Head Sommelier were he won multiple accolades for its wine list.
In 2005, Matthieu Longuère achieved the Master Sommelier Diploma, the highest achievable status for professional sommeliers and a status which is only held by just 256 people around the world.
What made you want to become a Master Sommelier?
Well, I wanted to learn about wine and I’ve always believed that if you want to know what you’re capable of you should test yourself. Exams and competitions can be useful that way. I use this pressure for self motivation too, you can read a book as much as you like, but your knowledge can only be determined by measuring it against a benchmark.
I won the Ruinart UK Best Sommelier of the year competition in 2000 before becoming a Master Sommelier in 2005.
Can you share one of your fondest memories since you’ve been working in the wine industry working with the best?
All I have is good memories. I don’t think I could narrow it down to one moment, the whole experience was great! But I think the best advice I could give at working at such places is to enjoy what you’re doing. If you work around 14 – 16 hours a day somewhere, you can’t spend that much time doing something you hate. Don’t see stress or anxiety as a negative; see it as a challenge and an opportunity, because when all the hard work is done, you’ll get gratitude for dealing with the stress and performing to your best.
Why did you choose London to work in the wine industry?
Well that’s an easy one; London is a very competitive market and you can find wines from everywhere in the world. The numerous importers are under an extreme pressure to stock outstanding quality wines of all types- so by default the UK offers the best of each region or country. Also London is home to some of the greatest wine writers and where global exposure begins.
It’s just so gratifying to see what our alumni go on to do after they leave us.
What makes Le Cordon Bleu so unique to you?
It’s the passion for whatever you do, if its food, wine or hospitality management. Our Diploma in Wine, Gastronomy and Management is a practical course that will help you make it in the industry. Le Cordon Bleu helps students realise what they can achieve, so it’s just so gratifying to see what our alumni go on to do after they leave us.
What are the main challenges of creating a wine list?
First of all you need to find the right amount of wine for the establishment, then work out the logistics of storing the wine . You must try not to be too over indulgent when selecting your wines, you can’t just pick wines that you think people would love to drink, you also have to consider people’s budgets – use the local demographics and knowledge of the area to help you.
What do you think the wine industry is looking for in a person today?
Passion is key, closely followed by the willingness to learn and progress. You should also be a good communicator and have the ability to be proud of your knowledge, but never allowing yourself to become intimidating.