By day he’s President Macri’s beverages guru (AKA service manager) at Argentina’s Casa Rosada (government house), by night he’s the head sommelier at Tarquino, one of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2015. And Ramiro Hernández’s most memorable experience in the profession is teaching President Obama how to prepare that most sacred of Argentine drinks, yerba mate.
What was your last pairing recommendation?
It was a Gran Syrah de Finca las Moras 2012 with our flank steak with pasta over a meat butter. The idea was to clean the palate with the juicy tannins of this Syrah and add different spices to the meal. A great wine with huge body and spices.
What did you drink last night?
After work, I had a couple of glasses of my 15-year-old The Balvenie, one of my favourite malts, which is clean and really soft.
What’s your favourite wine region in the world?
It’s really hard just to pick only one region. Maybe Marlborough with its really crispy Sauvignon Blanc, where its acidity is very very intense if you aren’t used to it, but once you are used to it, the capsicum and herbal aromas star so you fall in love with it. Also their Pinot Noir are soft-bodied wines, great for enjoying on their own or to pair with salads, seafood, poultry…
If I can pick one more region, it would be McLaren Vale for sure. It’s 100% different from Marlborough where we can find those huge Syrah but they also have some Grenache that leaves you speechless.
What do you love most about your job?
The opportunity of trying all the time something new. Food and beverages.
Meeting people who are always looking for a new and different experience.
Searching for that one jewel in my cellar to taste.
People who come to my restaurant for an experience and not simply to eat are one of the most important things to me.
Name a gem in your personal cellar.
I have many, but I’ll choose an Argentine one: a 1985 Saint Felicien Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec.
What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you as a somm?
Being with President Obama and preparing mate service for his visit to Argentina in March. Having this hugely important person in front of me and the opportunity to explain about our most traditional drink in Argentina for 15 minutes was a breathtaking moment.
President Obama was so into it that he didn’t let me leave because he wanted to drink another mate and learn about our tradition and how it was prepared.
If you were a wine, you’d be….
A Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and depending on my vintage (read as mood) it could be spicy, gentle or even a beautiful surprise.