Ricardo Pires - An (im)probable Sommelier
Ricardo Pires, who was born in Barreiro and has a degree in Sports Science, is passionate about wines, Covilhã and Serra da Estrela. Two years ago he left behind a career linked to winter sports to dedicate himself exclusively to hotel management. Get to know a little better this improbable sommelier, as well as the work developed at Casa das Muralhas!
How does a young man from the South Bank of Tejo come to Covilhã?
I arrived in Covilhã by chance. The plan I had was to do a degree in Sports Science in Lisbon. When that idea didn't come true I moved to Covilhã to attend the same course at the University of Beira Interior. During that period I fell in love with this city and with Serra da Estrela. In the meantime, 14 years have passed and the conviction to continue living in Covilhã still remains.
At 30 years of age, after working for so long in your training area, weren't you afraid you were making a wrong decision?
Like any change in our life, there is always a lot of reflection. I wasn't afraid, but I did a lot of thinking. I came to the conclusion that I needed a new challenge in my life and that, without a doubt, Casa da Muralhas was the right place to do it. After 2 years working in this house, that decision is more than validated, giving me certainty and satisfaction in the option I took.
You have known the "Casa das Muralhas" project since day 0, did your ambition to have one of the best wine services in the region influence your decision?
Without a doubt, yes. This was one of the aspects that motivated me to accept the proposal, together with the other ambitions of the "Casa das Muralhas" brand, which in general involves providing quality products and services to clients. The possibility of working on a project that aims for excellence was something that immediately attracted me. The objectives defined for the wine services were not only enticing, but also challenging, which continue to demand from me the search for new skills and knowledge within the area.
Your family is connected to the drinks trade, do you think this may have influenced your passion for wine, or was it something that grew with your work?
It was a bit of both. The interest already existed before I started working in this area. On the other hand, being involved in an activity where wines are inherent led me to look at this issue in a more critical and demanding way, exponentially increasing my passion and interest in the wine universe.
For those who don't know what a Sommelier is, can you explain what your duties consist of?
My duties as a sommelier are mainly divided into two phases. The first consists in tasting and selecting wines, in order to create a balanced menu with different profiles, prices and various wine regions. In my case, this work is executed together with the sommelier Daniel Pires, owner of Bago a Bago, located in the city of Guarda, and former sommelier of the prestigious Vila Joya. The objective of this joint work is to provide wines that meet the preferences of the clients, within different price limits, always trying to present exclusive references that are not widespread in large commercial surfaces. The second phase involves direct advice to the customer, so that, within their wishes, they can enjoy a suitable pairing between food and wine, getting to know more about its history, its producer, its characteristics and how it was produced.
How do you define the wine service of Casa das Muralhas?
The wine service at Casa das Muralhas is mainly characterised by the search for excellence. It is a service that has been growing over time, both in terms of technical execution and in the quantity and quality of the wines available. At this moment we consider ourselves to be a reference in the region regarding this aspect, however the potential to be explored is still far from being reached, and a continuous investment is planned in order to achieve the defined goals.
For this Christmas you have prepared a selection of Wine Packs that make excellent gifts! What inspired you to make this selection?
For this selection, I have chosen some of the wines which have most surprised me over these two years at Casa das Muralhas. The selected references come from several regions of the country, and they are all excellent representatives of the same regions. From Beira Interior to Dão, Douro and Trás-os-montes, these Packs are perfect gifts to surprise true wine lovers.