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    • We took an e-coffee the Chinese Sommelier Yang LU

    We took an e-coffee the Chinese Sommelier Yang LU

    We had an e-coffee time with a Yang LU, a Chinese Master of Sommelier, Founder of Grapea Institute and TOP Somm. This e-coffee was under the quarantine restrictions in China, so we asked Yang LU about his work during this time and what were is predictions for the Chinese wine market and restaurant industry after the quarantine.

    How to continue work as a sommelier during home quarantine?

    In Shanghai, TOP Somm works as consultant for 9 high-end restaurant brands, 19 restaurants in total, which suspended dine-in service. The work we are doing for these restaurants is to sort out and refine the previous content, including wine list preparation, wine selection, pricing and reporting. In addition, we have been running online training for some of these restaurants once or twice a week. The last thing is that some restaurants want to do some takeaway wine during special periods, we  help them to choose some wines on the wine list that are suitable for takeaway, from quality, price and stock.

    Finally, we have a team of six people in Shanghai, who have to maintain the work of the restaurant as mentioned above. We have set up our own database of famous chateaux, tasting words and vintages, and each of us is responsible for a part of it. Then we all get together, sort it out, share and learn together, so that’ s basically the job of a sommelier.



    What is your outlook on the wine market/restaurant industry?

    To be honest, our employers, restaurateurs, wine merchants, are actually experiencing far more difficulties than we thought they would in the epidemic! Many sommeliers can’t understand it from their own point of view, but I can because I’ve entered a business venture with my own fixed expenses including staff, rent, all sorts of costs. Although these may not be such huge amounts compared to some of the big restaurateurs or wine merchants, at least I can understand and put myself in their shoes to understand the difficulties and challenges.


    Secondly, this epidemic is very different from the one two years ago, and it is the first major impact on the Shanghai market. As for what the consequences will be and how far it will go, I cannot predict it, and I am sure no one else can. But I think sommeliers can learn from some of the major cities abroad that were hit by the epidemic at the time, and the fluctuations and changes in the industry. It’s hard to find a city or country that is exactly like Shanghai, but I think New York is a market that has some similarities to Shanghai. In fact, the epidemic started in 2020 and has had a big impact on New York’s food and wine industry. You can look at how the epidemic has changed the New York restaurant market and how it has affected sommeliers. In return, you can think about what you should do, or what you can do to defend yourself and anticipate when faced with such a bad change or impact.


    Everyone is exploring some new models, and the epidemic is still having quite an impact on the reflection of the restaurant industry and our own rethinking of our prospects.


    Of course, I think that in everything there is a crisis, there is an opportunity, right? Opportunities come only after crises. So in this case, sommeliers who are innovative, who are adventurous, who have the ability to execute, who have a sound business mindset, can do better in their jobs and careers.