Interview with Fergus Muirhead

Fergus, aged 25, is the head sommelier at Aberdeen Street Social in Hong Kong. He believes in sourcing honest wines that are made with care and more importantly delicious.

When did you first begin working with wine?

I first seriously started working in wine when I moved to London - I was 21.  This is where I met the most important mentor in my career, my first head sommelier Raphael Rodriguez (who is now Head Sommelier at Fera at Claridges).

How would you describe your style of service?

Informal (possibly too much at times) and unpretentious. I’m lucky as I have only worked with unpretentious somms so I have never been corrupted.

Please can you describe an inspired wine moment?

The first wine tasting I experienced in London. Up to that point, I had only tasted conventional mass produced wines. When I met Raph we had a tasting with Kate Tahl. We tasted wines from Thierry Puzelat for the most part. Simple wines but they opened my eyes to what true wines could taste like. Since that moment I have tasted wines that were more impressive but that experience has really stayed with me.

What advice/knowledge would you pass on to anyone who aspires to work with wine?

Taste, taste, taste, take notes and taste.

If you don’t taste then there is no way you can be successful in this industry. It is the best way to improve your knowledge and palate. Also network as much as possible. All of the people I met at London helped me along my career and in essence they assisted me to attain the position I have now. It is also amazing to taste and drink with friends and to get their opinion.

What do you think affects the experience of a guest the most (other than the wine itself)?

The glassware. There was an amazing tasting conducted by Daniel Primack (at that point he ran Around Wine/Eurocave UK) and it was truly eye opening. We had the opportunity to taste the same wine in two different wine glasses - the differences were spectacular. Daniel is the best person I have met to talk to when it comes to what can affect the experience of the guest.

If you were to champion anything, what would it be? (e.g. region, grape, style etc)

I feel really excited about what is happening in the States at the moment. The way in which the scene has changed is spectacular.

But mainly I am trying to promote wines that have been made with love, soul and taste authentic. There is nothing wrong with conventional wines but I get very little pleasure from those wines

What do you enjoy most about the work that you do?

I meet some of the most amazing people and it has opened doors that other jobs would not have. I have managed to move half way around the world, which in something that is not always possible in other industries.

What would be your wine choice in the following situations…

Desert Island? A palette of  wine from Anton Von Klopper (Domaine Lucci/Lucy Margaux) and Tom Shobbrook (Shobbrook Wines/Didi).

Picnic wine?  Riesling from Binner. Easy going, light and fresh.

Relaxation? When I need to relax - I turn to beer. The one thing I miss in Hong Kong is the craft beer that you are able to get in London, in particular the beers from Brew by Numbers.

Party Wine? Something Pet Nat - fun and easy to drink!

Tell us your wine secret….

White wine comes before red wine is bollocks.