The best sommelier of Italy in 1998 and Gualtiero Marchesi got to know each other with this sentence: “The Master was a provocateur but he knew well the importance of the wines at the table”
He needs no introduction. Everyone, from at least two generations, have seen a photo, a video or otherwise heard of Gualtiero Marchesi. Born in Milan in 1930, he began his culinary adventure thanks to the family that started him in what is a true art. The marriage between the Master and the cuisine is now history. Hence, what does Marchesi think of wine? What was the human side of such a great talent? We asked one of his students: Federico Graziani, a sommelier, and now also a producer.
How was the first time you met Marchesi?
“I remember it very well. I was with my father; he took me to the appointment. We talked a little: I told him that I would not have had any problems working with him because I had good willpower. Marchesi answered me: Federico, we don’t know each other yet, but goodwill is nothing if there is no intelligence. I found out that the Master was absolutely right by verifying it in the relationships of my professional life “.
How did your paths cross?
“One of his waiters told him about me: I had just been named the best Italian sommelier when I was only 23 and I was one of the most sought after. One evening my mother called me and said that a person named Gualtiero Marchesi was on the phone and wanted to talk to me. I was speechless; you can easily imagine what receiving a call of this kind meant for a young professional”.
Why is Marchesi such an extraordinary man?
“His way of anticipating events. He could see many things at the same time and imagine their future development. He taught me to think outside the box”.
What was Marchesi’s attitude towards wines?
“He could be very provocative. He once said that his dishes should be paired only with water. Actually, his cellar was widely stocked: he was very clear about the importance of wines at the table. He was not a great drinker but he could taste very refined labels”.
Where is the world of oenology going?
“We are returning to a more important awareness than in the past, in this way we can bring quality wine back to the final consumer. There was a time when there were more bottles for those who wrote about wine, than for those who drank them”.
Are the wine-food pairings that you studied with Marchesi still relevant?
“Yes. Many were contemporaries: because the Master has always had a far-sighted vision. Marchesi, as well as a great cook, has also been the most important catering and hospitality school in the last decades. He opened the eyes to everyone “.
Is there a “new Marchesi” today?
“Difficult to say, because times have changed, but I think the only one, who could be close to him, is Ferran Adrià. I can’t see anyone with the same impulse in Italy”.