Tell us about the moment you first became interested in wine
I grew up in Saudi Arabia, and in Saudi Arabia alcohol is illegal. My father used to buy grape juice from the supermarket and make wine in our bathroom with a home wine kit. I remember it tasting terrible and I thought 'there must be more to wine than this'.
Tell us about your wine list at Kitchen Table restaurant and Bubbleshop
Bubbleshop focuses on grower champagnes and Kitchen Table’s wine list showcases all the champagnes from Bubbleshop. Our still wine list reflects the same ethos as the kitchen, listing great wines from the lesser-known producers, exciting wine producing areas and rare bottles. And there is also a strong eau de vie list.
Over the course of your career, have you had any wine-related disasters?
We recently had a £700 Champagne order at Bubbleshop with some pretty hard to find bottles. It got lost as it was shipping and never got found. It was one of the most heartbreaking experiences in my career.
Name your top three restaurant wine lists
Bibendum, The Drapers Arm and The Quality Chop House's Quality Wines.
Who do you most respect in the wine world?
My 'champagne dealer' Sebastian Crozatier. I respect the work that he’s done for grower champagne producers by helping to promote them and the relationship he’s created and maintained with them. He has really supported my dream from the very beginning and has taught me so much about Champagne.
What’s the most interesting wine you’ve ever come across?
The first time I tasted Jacque Selosse's Substance I never knew that wine, let alone a Champagne, could taste like this.
What are the three most overused tasting notes?
It tastes like drinking ocean water, it’s like licking a rock and smells like forest floor.
What’s the best value wine on your list at the moment?
All of our Champagne. Because I want to make Champagne more accessible and want people to drink more of it.
What is your ultimate food and drink match?
French fries and Champagne.
Old World or New World?
What is your pet hate when it comes to wine service in other restaurants?
When restaurants try to upsell you and not really listen to what you like to drink. And also serving wine with a dirty serviette.
Who is your favourite producer at the moment and why?
Dhondt Grellet, because he is doing some interesting blending with his wines, using a solera system instead of reserve. He is a young and rising start in Champagne. He's also extremely good looking.
As a sommelier, what question do you most get asked by customers?
“Why champagne and hot dogs?”. And I always say: 'when you go wine tasting in Champagne, no one ever rolls out a trolley of caviar".
Which wine producing region or country is currently underrated at the moment and why?
South Africa for me. Because it has always been known to make really cheap and undrinkable wine, however now there are some really great producers making interesting wines, that are refined and top quality.
It’s your last meal and you can have a bottle of any wine in the world. What is it and why?
Jacques Selosse's Substance”. It's what sparked my passion for Champagne. Plus you need to celebrate your life with Champagne.