Uncorked: Pedro Santos

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Pedro Santos head sommelier Gouqi Chinese restaurant London

Related tags Pedro Santos Gouqi London

The head sommelier at London’s Gouqi on 2002 Clos de Ambonnay, Yarra Valley-based winemaker Luke Lambert and matching cherry-based desserts with Mezcal.

Tell us about the moment you first became interested in wine
My fascination with wine blossomed during my mid twenties while I was working at an Argentinian restaurant in Cambridge. Immersed in an environment where wine was not merely a beverage but an integral part of the dining experience, I underwent comprehensive training alongside the floor staff. Since then, my love for wine has only continued to evolve, enriched by each new encounter and experience.

Describe your wine list at Gouqi 
Our wine list at Gouqi is a captivating journey through the world of wine, carefully curated to complement the vibrant flavours of Chinese cuisine. With around 550 bins, our selection offers a balance between classic favourites and intriguing discoveries. 

Over the course of your career, have you had any wine-related disasters? 
One incident that comes to mind occurred while guiding a guest, during which I accidentally collided with a colleague’s tray filled with wine glasses. Fortunately, the glasses were empty, sparing us from any spilled wine. However, it was a moment of mild panic, especially considering the quality of the glasses. While the wine itself remained unscathed, it served as a reminder of the importance of caution and mindfulness in the fast-paced environment of wine service.

Name your top three restaurant wine lists
Noble Rot, Cabotte and The 10 Cases (all in London). 

Who do you most respect in the wine world?
The winemakers themselves. They are the ones who navigate the complexities of nature, terroir, and technique to craft the wines we enjoy. 

What’s the most interesting wine you’ve come across recently?
Schioppettino by Bressan and the Cinsault Old Vines Basson by Leeu Passant have left a lasting impression with their distinctive character and depth of flavour. On the white wine front, the 6 Sauvignon Blanc by Geedelte Wines and Solaris by Winica Turnau have also caught my attention. 

What are the three most overused tasting notes?
Acidic, mineral and sweet. 

What’s the best value wine on your list at the moment?
The NV Extra Brut from Clarevallis by Drappier stands out as a remarkable find. It delivers outstanding quality typical of the Champagne region but at a surprisingly accessible price point, making it a rare gem in today’s market. 

What is your ultimate food and drink match?
Very smoky Mezcal with a cherry-based dessert. 

Old World or New World?
Choosing between Old World and New World wines is akin to selecting a favourite wine—it largely depends on the context, including the occasion, the company, and the meal. 

What is your pet hate when it comes to wine service in other restaurants?
When the wine list is offered by the sommelier and no engagement is made with me as a guest.

Who is your favourite producer right now?
Luke Lambert (a winemaker from Australia’s Yarra Valley). His dedication to showcasing pure fruit expression and capturing the essence of the region results in wines of unparalleled elegance and finesse. 

As a sommelier, what question do you most get asked by customers? 
People are always asking me whether I’ve tried every wine on the list. 

Which wine producing region or country is underrated at the moment?
Portugal. For a long time, Portuguese winemakers primarily focused on blending from old vines without giving much attention to the potential of their indigenous grape varieties. While the Douro region garners significant attention, particularly for its success with Port , I believe other regions in Portugal deserve more recognition for their still wines, including Dao and Bairrada. 

It’s your last meal and you can have a bottle of any wine in the world. What is it and why?
A 2002 Clos de Ambonnay. I have a deep admiration for racy Champagnes, and in my opinion, this particular vintage represents the pinnacle of excellence in this style.

Related topics Fine Dining

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