Within the realm of gourmet dining experiences lies a meticulously curated wine-pairing selection that elevates the gastronomic journey to new heights. It is its own art and expertise. At FRANCIS west, the responsibility falls upon Sommelier Simone Sammuri.
With a childhood in a small Northwest Italian town and a passion for sustainability, Sommelier Sammuri has immersed himself in narrating a wine concept that celebrates the art of fine wine. His time at 121BC in Hong Kong garnered Best Wine Bar List in the 2014 and 2015 China’s Wine List of the Year Awards; as well as earned WSET Level 3 Award in Wines and was named Best Sommelier (Hong Kong) by Vinitaly International in 2018/19. As a co-founder of FRANCIS alongside Chef Asher Goldstein and Restaurateur James Ward, the wine enthusiast continues to devote himself to his oenophilic passion. The intricately selected wine lists reflect the restaurant's coastal roots in the Mediterranean, showcasing exquisite selections from Portugal, Pantelleria, Malta, Santorini, and Israel, and unveiling hidden treasures from South Africa and Lebanon.
1. How did you get into the wine industry?
I studied accounting in Italy, but I found it very dull. After a disappointing work experience in a financial company, I moved to London to improve my English language skills. This led me to F&B and my first job as a Commis waiter in a Fine Dining restaurant in Soho. A few years later, I had the privilege to work for Terroir, a very famous Wine Bistro located in Charing Cross; the place was owned by La Caves des Pyrene, a well-established wine distributor in the UK. Thanks to this experience, I could really expand my wine knowledge and connect with the wine world.
2. What are your top 3 tips for a "beginner" wine drinker?
Attend public tastings, wine dinner and drop by your local wine bars in town to explore their ‘by the glass’ lists. Add your contact on their newsletter to keep up to date with events and sales promotions.
The WSET wine courses are very useful, as they provide a general education knowledge and are recognised world-wide. Start with a Level 1 or Level 2 if you are confident.
Visit wineries if you have the opportunity. It is one of the most beautiful experiences you can have; you can truly understand the all process of winemaking, and who is behind it!
3. How do you choose the wines at FRANCIS west?
The list has a strong focus on Mediterranean Countries (predominantly coastal Mediterranean), starting from the Portuguese coast and entering the Mediterranean Sea through Morocco, Pantelleria Island, Greece and Israel. It's a journey of different grapes and countries, with a strong attention to sustainable wineries, small to medium dimension.
4. What do you look for when sourcing wines for pairings at FRANCIS west?
A whole host of factors including labels that are not widely listed in Hong Kong to provide a difference, the winemaker’s story, lesser known varietals/winemaking regions, drinkability, and value for money.
All imagery is provided by FRANCIS West.