Thorsten Kuehler is a trained sommelier and sales consultant at boutique wine merchant Great Little Vineyards (aka Kemp Wine Merchants) in Auckland.
I’m pleased to share his Q&A with you today to find out more about his background, wine passion and life as a fellow German in New Zealand.
What do you do?
I am, I guess you would call it a wine sales rep. However, being a certified Sommelier I rather see myself as a wine sales consultant, an indulgence adviser, a wine ambassador.
Tell us a bit about your background
Well, it all started with a three year apprenticeship in one of Germany’s most prestigious hotels, the Louis C. Jacob in Hamburg. There in the environment of a Michelin-star restaurant, a wine cellar of 1000+ positions and working under the mentoring of Germany’s first Master Sommelier Hendrik Thoma, the spark was ignited.
Over the following years, working in hospitality around Europe and later in New Zealand the passion grew to a level, that I studied to become a Sommelier. Through that I made connections to the trade and changed sides after running the restaurant floor for more than 10 years.
I now work for Great Little Vineyards aka Kemp Wine Merchants since 2014 and have the joy and the privilege to work with some of the most amazing and inspiring artisan wine producers in New Zealand.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
Get-up with the first birds, doing breakfast for the family, drop the daughter at her kindergarten, check into the office for a bit of paperwork and a coffee with the boss, race around town for meetings, talking life and selling wine, get home, cook dinner (my wife and I take turns on that one), read a good-night story, sit down and relax or do more office stuff, fall asleep late (old hospo gene!).
What’s your go-to wine at the moment?
None really! It all depends on my mood, the situation, the weather, what we are cooking…
Which wine are you saving for a special occasion?
Again, there is not that one wine. To open and enjoy a precious bottle of wine is the occasion and that can be any moment. Admittedly I am not good in saving wines for too long, I am by far too curious and love sharing good things.
If you were a wine, which one would you be?
Advice on buying wine
Don’t be intimidated by other people’s opinion, have your own. Talk about what wine you like and why. Be open minded to try new wines and retry the ones you did not favour in the past – your taste develops with age and experience.
Don’t look at the supermarket for new wines, go to a specialist wine trader, talk to the staff and let them help you find a new inspiring wine.
Favourite bars and restaurants in Auckland?
Hard one, as we have so many good ones. But for the bar The Golden Dawn and my local The Bramble in Onehunga. For restaurants I’d say Apero, Sidart and O’Connell St. Bistro.
Dead or alive, who would you like to share a glass of vino with?
Two people actually. My grandmother (she died before I was of legal drinking age) and Helmut Schmidt (former German Chancellor).
Thanks a lot for your time Thorsten!