Seduced by wine

Wine is mysterious and totally sensorial, says World's Best Sommelier Paolo Basso

Swiss-Italian wine producer Paolo Basso will be in town to conduct a masterclass and host wine dinners.
Swiss-Italian wine producer Paolo Basso will be in town to conduct a masterclass and host wine dinners.PHOTO: ERWIN TAN, SHADE PHOTOGRAPHY

In the world of wine, Swiss-Italian wine producer Paolo Basso has pretty much done it all. He is one of five sommeliers in the world to have won both the European and global titles in The World's Best Sommelier Competition.

The 48-year-old wine pro- fessional is the title holder for the 2013 edition of the prestigious sommelier challenge, which takes place every three years in different host nations.

He also runs his own wine consulting company, Paolo Basso Wine, in Lugano, Switzerland.

Last year, he launched the first vintage of his own red wine label, called Il Rosso di Chiara.

Oenophiles here can wine and dine with him when he is in Singapore from Aug 25 to 28 to conduct a wine masterclass and host a series of wine dinners at Italian restaurant Ristorante Amarone at Capital Tower.


  • WHERE: 01-08/09/10 Ristorante Amarone, Capital Tower, 168 Robinson Road

    WHEN: Aug 25, 3 to 5pm (masterclass), Aug 27 and 28, from 7pm (wine dinner) PRICE: $150 nett (masterclass), $395++ (wine dinner)

    INFO: Call 6423-0464, or e-mail or go to

The dinner on Aug 26 is sold out.

Diners will get to try his Paolo Basso BSW Il Rosso di Chiara 2013 at the six-course dinner. The wine will be paired with aged parmesan risotto and recioto (sweet red wine) jelly.

Other pairings include roasted scallops with potato cream, tomato confit and chorizo oil with Jermann Vintage Tunina IGT 2011; and beef entrecote with celeraic puree and roasted mushrooms with Ciacci Piccolomini Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Pianrosso 2008.

Born in Besnate, a small town in northern Italy, he was exposed to the drink through his grandfather, who would enjoy a bottle of wine with risotto on Sundays.

Mr Basso went to Hotel Management School in Sondalo, Italy, where he was "seduced by wine".

He says: "Unlike cooking, it was mysterious and difficult to understand. Cuisine can be artistic but it is scientific, whereas wine is totally sensorial."

To learn more about wine, he then studied at the Swiss Sommelier Association School .

He worked in restaurants to hone his skills as a restaurant sommelier and started taking part in wine challenges in 1994 to further "test my capacity and knowledge".

For the gruelling World's Best Sommelier Competition, Mr Basso says that questions can range from technical knowledge of wine to the number of times wine is mentioned in the Bible.

And it is this vast knowledge of the world of wine that has helped him in his wine production so far.

The label is dedicated to his 10-year-old daughter Chiara, as he was inspired by her red hair, which he likens to the colour of red wine. His Swiss-Italian wife Helene, 48, works with him.

Despite his expertise in the industry, he calls himself a "beginner" in the winemaking field.

He says: "I knew before that it is hard to produce wine and now I really know how hard it is. A hail- storm can destroy 100 per cent of your investment. So, I'm always looking at the weather forecast."

Just 5,000 bottles of his first wine were produced and he is working on his second vintage. He will also produce a line of Italian wines, which he believes will sell better than the Swiss ones.

The Swiss population, he notes, also enjoys Italian and French wines, as well as those from Germany and Spain.

He says: "Swiss wines are drunk by the locals and now companies are trying to boost exports for people to know that Switzerland is also a wine-producing country. We're not just about watches, cheese and chocolate."

He is looking to have a stronger presence in Asia and is cautious about the saturated wine market in Europe.

"When we had fewer wines, consumers tried to understand the wines," he says. "Now with more wines being produced, the producers are making wines that are easy to understand. So they use more sugar in the wines or try to pass off bad wines as organic or biodynamic wines."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2015, with the headline 'Seduced by wine'. Print Edition | Subscribe