A good year


Multi-award winning sommelier and professor at the Glion Institute of Higher Education, Paolo Basso knows a good wine. Abode2 spoke to the oenologist to discover more about this fascinating discipline

Paolo Basso is one of 6 sommeliers in the world to be awarded the titles of Best Sommelier of Europe (in 2010 in Strasbourg) and Best Sommelier of the World (in 2013 in Tokyo). In 2018, Glion Institute of Higher Education granted Mr Basso the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa in recognition of his achievements in oenology, the wider field of hospitality and his inspired teaching of future generations.

Italian by birth, Paolo now lives in Switzerland. After his classical career in gourmet restaurants, his passion for wine led him to a professional “extension” and today he produces five wines in Ticino, Switzerland. He is currently a professor at the Glion Institute of Higher Education and at the Changins Wine School in Switzerland.

What are the latest industry trends and how do you think the current climate will affect the future of the industry?

Rosé wines have been gaining  popularity over the last decade due to their improved quality and the selection of wine now produced, with organically and biodynamically cultivated grapes. It’s important to emphasise organic and biodynamic cultivation with careful vinification and high-quality wines, as unfortunately poor-quality wines have infiltrated this movement. Passed off as good wines, with the justification of being natural, there’s the assumption that the consumer will accept them, which also gives the quality organic wines a bad name, too.

There are a good many organic and biodynamic wines of exceptional quality, therefore, the wines of inadequate quality should be disregarded. More importantly, there’s a multitude of producers who, without claiming to own any organic label, work in an environmentally friendly and sustainable development.

The global lockdown has had a detrimental impact on wine consumption, due to the ban on organising large events in many countries worldwide. Although wine consumption at home increased, it doesn’t make up for the significant losses. In wine producing countries, consumers are looking to support the local agricultural economy and avoid unnecessary transport of goods. Although on the flipside, countries producing a lot of wine are faced with limited domestic consumption.

What will this mean for young professionals entering the industry?

Entering a profession where excellence, beauty and perfection is imperative, means that the individual must also performance above par.

Clients in the luxury sector are uncompromising: they’re used to excellence, so proficiency, attentiveness and professionalism are key at all times. Nevertheless, it’s nice to work in an environment that consistently strives for perfection. One should always aim to excel and push their limits.

How does your experience extend to your teaching at Glion Institute of Higher Education?

After working for over twenty years in Michelin star restaurants and a further ten years in fine & rare wines, I decided to start producing my own wine.

I entered many sommelier competitions and several television shows enabling me to teach every aspect of the wine making process, from production to marketing. The Glion Institute of Higher Education has integrated remote learning in its curriculum and started offering “Glion Connect”, a televised component fundamental to the course.. The “Glion Connect” solution allows international students unable to travel to start their first bachelor’s semester remotely before attending classes on campus for the final half of the semester. It’s essential to design a curriculum that is both educational and attracts students to follow it with rigour and enthusiasm. In a way, that’s easy, because the world of wine is so varied: there’s nature, culture, history, science, economy and of course, fun.

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