"There's always time for a glass of wine", would argue many a gentleman. One such man is Jean-Michel Deluc, who has the esteemed role of Master Sommelier for Le Petit Ballon, the wine subscription company which delivers - every month - wines personally selected by the man himself.
Having shaped his career from the Café Royal to the Ritz Hotel in Paris, Jean-Michel is now responsible for ensuring every bottle shared with subscribers is tasted and tested to perfection. As a subscriber, you can see his presentation of results from impartial tastings every month, one of which we will soon be hosting in our Soho barbershop
. We had a quick chat to find out more about his virtuous introduction to wine, picked his brain for five essential things that every man should know about wine, and how Le Petit Ballon is influencing a contemporary approach to appreciating a good drop...
What was the inspiration behind Le Petit Ballon?
Company founder and CEO Martin Ohannessian had always loved food and wine, but didn’t really know much about it. He took some wine-tasting classes and workshops, but quickly got bored as they were too expensive or too difficult! We want to transform how people drink wine, not just through providing hidden gems and lesser known appellations to consumers, but through helping them understand wine and understand exactly what they enjoy drinking.
What do you aim to achieve with your role?
I want to give our consumers the chance to try wines and appellations they might not have tried before and to bring consumers and winemakers as close to one another as possible.
How were you first introduced to wine?
It began with two incidents: First I missed a diploma to become a French teacher in France so I went to Toulouse Catering School.
Then I came to England to learn English and to pay for my tuition I worked at the Café Royal as a waiter. When one of the wine waiters retired they suggested I take over, thinking that as a Frenchman I must have known about wine... I told them I’d accept the job as long they pay for my wine studies. So they did and I learned about wine and English at the same time and managed to succeed in both.
"We want to transform how people drink wine."
What advice would you offer someone looking to develop their tasting pallet?
Look at the Le Petit Ballon videos online, of course, but do as I did to learn English, every day I went to see an English film. So have a glass of wine every day, not always French, and see how you feel about it - even write down how you feel if you like, it can help.
Do you have a favourite bar?
In London, I love the atmosphere of a traditional pub, but also places like the Palace Hotel bar for the cosy and often musical atmosphere. The Savoy and the Ritz were my favourite places whilst I lived here and I eventually ended up as Master Sommelier at the Ritz Hotel in Paris. Today I enjoy a more trendy, casual atmosphere. Maybe the Lost Angel in Battersea - but I’m still looking, there are so many places to try in London.
If our interview has whetted your appetite for a sampling of fine wine, head over to Le Petit Ballon for more information about their subscription service.