As part of our The Art of Presentation series, we interview two men at the forefront of their careers. Here we speak to James Audas, sommelier and spirits consultant.
Working in an industry where time and age is paramount, sommelier James Audas, at 26, doesn’t seem to have too many years under his belt. His youthful appearance doesn’t help either but James has tons of experience, and distinguished at that.
“I have been working in the hospitality industry for about 9 years now and there are a few things I look back on with pride,” admits James. “One is working for Noma restaurant in Copenhagen which was, at the time, the world’s best restaurant. I also won the Electrolux ‘Appetite for Excellence’ Young Waiter of the Year award in 2012; both experiences have allowed me to meet and work with some of the greats in hospitality, on the floor and in the kitchen.”
Chatting with James at Archie Rose Distillery in Alexandria, where he consults as part of its gin-blending team, he speaks of his achievements modestly but confidently, exactly how you would want your sommelier to be when recommending a good wine to go with your steak.
“As a hospitality professional, it is incredibly important to present yourself well,” says James. “I think looking polished puts customers at ease that their meal will go well.”
And for James, that means a great suit and good grooming. “I love navy suits in particular, and being well-groomed, hair in place; but I don’t think being clean-shaven is necessary.”
As a sommelier, how you pour and present a bottle of wine is also part of the show. “There is definitely an art to presenting a good bottle of wine; the way you present the bottle to show a guest or the customer is very important,” says James, warming up to the subject. “From the glassware you use to taking care to open and decant a bottle of wine before serving it. With younger white wines in particular it can help open up the wine a little bit by giving it some air to breathe, and with reds, decanting them increases the ageing process quite quickly.”
“The technique for pouring a glass of wine begins by pouring the wine from the right hand side, pouring it slowly into the glass and serving ladies first. I also prefer to allow some room in the glass to allow for top ups, rather pouring a huge glass.”
"I guess you can say, I’m quite classically trained."