Julie Dupouy is the Best Sommelier of Ireland since 2009 and in the last competition of Best Sommelier of the World she achieved the third place. Julie works in the Greenhouse restaurant, located in the center of Dublin, and also has a consulting company called Down2wine.
GZ: You moved to Dublin in 2003. You were born in France. I read that you decided to move to the Irish capital because of the culture of the country. It is right?
JD: Yes, I am from the south of France, I am from a town called Agen which is located 100 kilometers between Bordeaux and Toulouse. Right in the center. I first moved to Dublin in 2004 to improve my English and then I left in 2005 and came back in 2007. I really enjoy the culture here, the way people have a down-to-earth approach to things , In restaurants, for example, are very friendly. I really love Irish culture and that’s why I decided to go back.
GZ: With your experience in Greenhouse and other restaurants that you have worked for and also thanks to your company you know very well the preferences of the Dubliners and Irish with respect to the drink. Here are two strong competitors for wine that are beer and whiskey. What do you see are your preferences with regard to wine?
JD: As a non-alcoholic beverage, the most consumed in Ireland is tea. There are definitely many craft breweries opening all over the country, beer fashion is widespread. There are many breweries and, also, many styles of beer. Then there is a great emphasis on gins and whiskeys. We have more and more interesting gins being created both in Northern Ireland and Ireland. We even have a gin called Berta’s Revenge that is made from buttermilk. It is very spicy, very interesting. And then yes, the whiskeys. There are many companies especially the Teeling Whiskey Company which reopened a few years ago in Dublin. The wine is consumed just like other drinks. It is a product that is in development. There are very small vineyards in Ireland but it is not a wine producing country due to the weather. People are very open-minded about trying different styles of wine. There are very popular styles in the market but people when they go to a restaurant are not closed with respect to what they drink. Certain wines are popular: Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Rioja or Malbec from Argentina. But you still find lesser-known, unusual, “out-of-the-box” options and people are interested in trying them out.
GZ: I read in an interview that you discovered wine at age 16. You were very young. Your grandfather opened a bottle of wine the year of your birth. After that, you read about wines and decided to be a sommelier. It is true?
JD: Yes, that was actually the occasion when I was allowed to have a glass of wine for the first time. He had drunk wine earlier, younger. I think it started with my wet pacifier in Champagne when I was a baby. My grandfather’s grandfather made wine but I never had the opportunity to take it because I was very young. My maternal grandfather was a country man and made wine for self-consumption, so there was always wine on the table. Mostly it was mixed with water. People drank to quench their thirst and it was basically came with water. Every so often I was allowed to drink a small glass of wine with water. But on my sixteenth birthday I got a glass of a vintage wine from my birthday. It was a Margaux, Château Marquis de Terme, it was from 1983 and was enchanted. I did not know about wine. I can not say if it was good or not, but I was delighted. First I was interested in working in the perfume industry. I always liked, as a child, to gather flowers and make infusions with water and other liquids and try to extract the aromas. But when I did a bit of information search, I had the impression that it would be difficult to get a job in the industry. And then I tried that wine and I thought it would be an option because in wine the senses are very important and that’s what I did.
GZ: From that moment until now you have had many years of experience in the profession. What do you like most about being a sommelier?
JD: Discover wines every day. The more you study, the more you learn and you realize how vast and vast the world of wine is. And I also like the idea of meeting many people. Interesting people, passionate people. Traveling, meeting beautiful places is also an important point. The vineyards are always in beautiful places. Then there is the side of sharing my passion. Make people better understand what they like and do not like. The pairing with food. It is a very diverse work.
GZ: You mentioned the trips to wine regions. According to your experience I would like you to tell me what your top 3 regions of wine are.
JD: I love South Africa. I went to South Africa in 2010 and at that time did not know too much about their wines. I was starting to try South African wines Present on the Irish market. I went there for six days and found it beautiful. People welcome you very well. It is very easy to travel, stop at wineries where for a very cheap sum you could try many wines without having to schedule in advance. I would love to come back with more knowledge about the country and its wines to value more. Then Santorini. I went on my honeymoon and had to find the time for wine. I had never taken Assyrtico and was impressed with the quality of some wines. Not only of Assyrtico, also the red wines, the vin santo, the beauty of the island, the vines growing in baskets, is beautiful. And, finally, New Zealand, I was lucky enough to go in January and it is one of the most beautiful places I have been. The colors of the place, the people, the wines, the varieties available and the quality of the wines. It is very difficult to take a wine and you do not like it. Everything seemed to have high quality standards.
GZ: The last question is: if you could have a glass of wine with someone you admire, who would it be?
JD: From the wine industry it would be Gerard Basset that I had a chance to meet. I think he’s a wonderful person. It makes you feel good when you talk to him. You do not feel like he’s trying to impress you. If he is not somebody in the wine industry, maybe, if he were alive, it would be Nelson Mandela. As an iconic person in the world.