SINGAPORE: Mason and Alexander may sound like the title of a speakeasy you vaguely glossed around on Instagram and designed a psychological notice to stop by when Friday will come all around. But, no. They are, in fact, two of the most gifted and confident younger sommeliers dependent in Singapore who are changing the facial area of wine appreciation and pleasure on their possess terms.
MASON NG, HEAD SOMMELIER, ATLAS
Generally impeccably put with each other, Mason Ng, 22, cuts a polished figure as the head sommelier of ATLAS and presides around its comprehensive Champagne assortment. Wine has a specific spot in his heart. “It’s a vessel that connects passion, discussions and relationships,” he reported. And it’s also a philosophy grounded in personal encounter.
“When I was 14, my uncle from Johor would stop by us in Kuala Lumpur quite a few moments a 12 months and provide along wines from Singapore. I begun to buy books by Jancis Robinson and Robert Parker, and that’s how my fascination grew,” he reported.
Eighteen and fresh new out of large faculty, he seemed destined for daily life as a profession accountant. With only a months in advance of he was thanks to enroll in a Hong Kong university, he took a gamble and applied for jobs at around thirty restaurants in Singapore. “I believe my mother and father had been pondering that no a person would want me in any case,” he reported.
In April 2014, he gave up his degree with his parents’ blessing, and commenced his profession in high-quality food items and wine.
Ng 1st lower his tooth at the Les Amis Team for virtually a few a long time, in the course of which he lived and breathed wine. In just 6 months of perform, he turned the youngest Certified Sommelier in Asia at the age of 19 – no suggest feat for a rookie.
“I studied each and every working day, did split shifts, survived on espresso and attended teaching periods at perform. It was a person of the most tiring moments of my daily life,” Ng reported. “I learnt to decant from YouTube and I watched each and every solitary online video to figure it out.”
A crucial element of the exam is the blind tasting part, which usually means he had to buy and attempt as many wines as humanly doable. “And I expended all my price savings on wine.”
His major assets would turn out to be the relationships he cultivated.
He credits his mentor Yeo Xi Yang, head sommelier at the Black Swan, for influencing his warm and impeccable support design.
“He taught me a large amount on how to converse to attendees,” Ng reported. “We had distinct strategies to perform but he would usually seek out my belief. Without the need of him, I would not be where I am these days.”
As time went by, attendees turned company friends who valued his wine suggestions. A single working day, around supper, anyone requested him if he has any intention to go.
That set in movement the future chapter of his wine journey as Singapore’s youngest head sommelier in November 2016. ATLAS would only re-open in March the pursuing 12 months soon after renovations, but the clock was ticking.
“We begun from scratch developing the wine checklist. The concept was to create a Champagne marketing campaign,” Ng reported.
Alongside one another with Jack Cheung, the loved ones sommelier of the ParkView Team, he ultimately sourced a stunning checklist of around 250 Champagne labels that is basically spectacular.
His still wine assortment, even so, was originally restricted to a very complicated twenty reds and twenty whites.
“It took a though for me to figure it out,” he reported. “I begun with two hundred bottles every single and had to lower it down. Because I’m very acquainted with the Aged Planet, I made the decision to do one thing entertaining and experimented with anything from Savoie and Coteaux Champenois to Ratafia de Champagne and Grüner Veltliner.”
His intuition paid out off. His still wines had been so popular that he received the go ahead to develop his assortment to 50 reds and 50 whites.
Ng strongly thinks that wine should be available. “Anyone who will come in should be in a position to buy a bottle of wine that’s very affordable,” he reported.
And due to the fact the checklist has handed his exacting requirements, you know you are in excellent arms.
“For my generation, information and facts is just clicks absent,” Ng reported. “Eight or nine a long time back again, the sommelier was king, but not any longer. But it’s been excellent for sommeliers, as well. We can learn a large amount online very easily.”
And if he could have a person very last bottle of wine, what would it be?
“The 1961 Haut-Brion,” he reported. “It was the farewell wine I had with Yang when I left Les Amis, and it is until this working day our finest wine.”
The 22-12 months-outdated will be having on the demanding Superior Sommelier exam future 12 months, which only has a thirty for every cent passing amount. Over and above that, he has set his sights on the final badge of honour – Master Sommelier – in advance of he hits thirty.
ALEXANDER PEH, Foods & BEVERAGE Supervisor AND TRAINEE, Four SEASONS Resort SINGAPORE
Alexander Peh, 24, caught the vinous bug when he turned 19.
“It was my nineteenth birthday and my father advised a awesome cafe,” he shared. “I had the beef ragù and the sommelier encouraged a Barbera.”
He additional: “It was like I’d been punched in the facial area! I did not know what was occurring, what I was performing.”
After that pivotal, daily life-changing minute, things moved very speedily. Peh enlisted for Countrywide Support and commenced researching wine, having WSET (Wine & Spirit Schooling Belief) lessons in Singapore. By his 20th birthday, he had turn into the youngest Certified Sommelier in Singapore. “Until Mason arrived along!” he exclaimed.
YouTube would when once again show indispensable. “I would examine in camp in the course of breaks and observe films on How To Open A Champagne Bottle,” Peh reported.
This April, he was the runner-up in the Southeast Asia and Taiwan Very best Sommelier Level of competition 2017. Four months earlier, in December, he edged out extra seasoned sommeliers and positioned 2nd in the Singapore Countrywide Sommelier Level of competition 2016.
Gerald Lu, a excellent good friend and an accomplished local sommelier, took Peh beneath his wing and encouraged him to pursue his passion for wine, support and hospitality, and he has been a person regular in Peh’s daily life.
“I had an accelerated, arms-on encounter understudying Gerald,” he reported. “I owe him a large amount.”
Peh arrived back again to Singapore earlier this 12 months soon after graduating from the Les Roches Worldwide University of Resort Management in Switzerland and he now plays a position in shaping and building Four Seasons Hotel’s wine checklist a large amount extra exciting for attendees, most of whom he suggests are very new to the wine scene. “I like the concept of a buffet wine flight where we introduce them to traditional pairings like Bordeaux by the glass, to enhance the menu of the working day at A single Ninety,” he reported.
His desire is for any one to stroll into a hotel like the Four Seasons for distinct wine experiences, with out obtaining to fear about the monthly bill, and that’s particularly what the hotel is providing – ‘100 Underneath $100’.
He reported: “I see it as receiving to a level where attendees truly feel they do not have to fear about charges.”
“I’d also like to create an exceptional checklist of scarce vintages that just can’t be uncovered or are in restricted quantities for our restaurants A single Ninety and Jiang Nan Chun,” he continued. “These specifically curated lists would attribute scarce producers at a excellent price ratio.”
Becoming a professional sommelier, even so, is not the dream. “I truly feel the sommelier profession is a very specialised discipline in terms of profession preference. I’ll have the option to interact with wines in my F&B position. So I see myself selecting anyone much better than myself to help with the wine checklist, due to the fact I will have an understanding of the particular person that I seek the services of,” Peh explained, stating he envisions this to be a complementary partnership.
“Wine is about experiences and the men and women it brings with each other,” Peh reported. “Sometimes, the planet looks a little bit nicer with a little bit of alcohol.”
What assistance does he have for aspiring sommeliers?
“Don’t be worried of challenging perform. If passion calls, go for it. It might not be the most celebrated of jobs but in the lengthy run fulfilment is extra significant.”