From New York to the United Kingdom to Sydney’s Northern beaches - Luke Collard has traveled from sea to sea, country to country, and restaurant to restaurant, tasting and selecting wines for all.
Although New Zealand-born, Collard’s French roots generated his passion for food and wine at an early age. Since then, he has worked at a number of top restaurants and hotels all over the world, even serving HM Queen Elizabeth. Currently residing in Sydney, he has opened his own company Globe in a Glass, using his wide knowledge to teach others about wine and spirits.
Today, we’re in the kitchen with...
1. Which do you prefer, red or white. Why?
I go through stages to be honest, but if I had to choose just one broad style I’d probably go red because that includes Pinot Noir. Pinot is capable of the most incredible flavours – but also major (and expensive) disappointments.
2. What’s your favourite food and wine combo?
Wine and cheese. So many variations to choose from…
3. How did you first become interested in wine?
I’ve been interested in wine from a fairly young age. My paternal grandfather was from a French background, and fostered an interest in how things taste from an early age. In my early twenties I worked in the City of London and came into contact with some serious wine cellars in the banks and livery halls. That’s when I decided to do this as my career.
4. What’s the process when creating a wine list?
Start with how many wines you want to have on the list. In many ways, a smaller list is harder to do because every wine has to be great. Then work out what you’re going to pour by the glass, as this will account for a large volume of your sales. Your likely customer base and what they’re likely to spend is the next consideration. Then I draw up a generic list of wine styles, e.g. “crisp dry white”, “off-dry white”, fuller bodied white”, “light red”, “oaky, full-bodied red”, etc. Only then do I start talking to suppliers and fill in the names of actual wines. It’s important not to have too many suppliers for the size of your list as well.
5. Is there synergy across all of the Group’s wine lists? Are there any particular stand outs?
To some degree there is, but we’re not a chain and each place has its own identity and local market. What works in Newport doesn’t necessarily work in Mosman or Vaucluse! We tend to work more with a handful of good suppliers and select from within their portfolios for the various venues, rather than settle on particular brands or specific wines for all. The two largest lists, at Aqua Dining and Ormeggio at The Spit are the most satisfying from a professional viewpoint, and I’m also really happy with what the guys at Sotto Sopra have done with their selection, in an area with very few decent wine lists.
6. 6. Do you think people who weren’t born with sharp taste buds can still aspire to be a sommelier? Is it innate or is it something you can work toward?
There are a very few lucky people born with an innate ability well above the general population, but these “supertasters” are pretty rare, and are not always drawn to the profession. Most of us in the industry, myself included, are mere mortals in the sensory department – but you can definitely train your nose and palate to a high standard. It’s not like riding a bike – if you don’t taste regularly you get out of shape, so always be tasting!
7. What’s a common mistake that people make when choosing a wine to accompany their meal?
I think the classic one is big reds with light seafood. I despair when people order a massive shiraz to eat with their oysters – it only serves to ruin both!
8. What’s your favourite kind of drink to enjoy at home? (Vino, beer, cocktails?)
If we’re eating, it’ll definitely be wine appropriate to the food, company and weather. But I’m a hop fiend, so after a long day tasting and serving wine I do like to kick back with a good, hoppy pale ale. My current favourite is the Lord Nelson ‘Three Sheets’.
About Ormeggio at the Spit
Overlooking Middle Harbour and Pearl Bay, Ormeggio at the Spit is Mosman’s very own gem. You can expect to find scenic views of the water coupled with the lively ambience that the restaurant radiates. It has also been awarded two Chef Hats in this year’s Sydney Morning Herald Food Guide, which can give you an idea of the exquisite contemporary Italian cuisine. The wine list features international and local wines, and was awarded three Glasses in the Gourmet Traveller's WINE Awards in 2017. On top of that, it has been recognised as Australia’s top ranked Italian restaurant.
Located next door to and owned by Ormeggio, think of Chiosco as their sibling restaurant. Surrounded by boats and the tranquility of the calm water, the atmosphere here is sure to provide you with feelings of comfort and relaxation. The Italian cuisine captures all your favourites with locally sourced ingredients, accompanied by a refreshing drink list including Italian wines. Chiosco is a place suitable for all the seasons.
About Via Alta
In Sydney’s North Shore is Via Alta, a fresh and stimulating take on Italian cuisine. The food is clean and simple, and involves flavours of the Northern Italian region. Much like the interior, it is bright and elegant with bursts of green. And with a seasonal menu change, Via Alta keeps their diners excited and engaged. What would a northern Italian inspired cuisine be without Italian wines? Via Alta provides a carefully selected range of Italian wines.
About Sotto Sopra
Chef and Restaurateur Alessandro Pavoni of Ormeggio at the Spit, Chiosco and Via Alta, and his partners from Ormeggio at the Spit have come together to create Sotto Sopra. All the dishes are Italian inspired and produce-driven, taking a further step towards the contemporary than the others. With a wood oven imported from Italy, expect hearty meals full of flavour and of high calibre. Introducing a Coravin system for the wines, they are delivered to you with the best quality possible.