You've Been Served: Nisea Doddy, head sommelier at The Shelbourne

You've Been Served: Nisea Doddy, head sommelier at The Shelbourne

I was educated in Dublin where I studied marketing and design in Mountjoy Square but after I graduated, I took the decision to emigrate to Portugal for five years.

This was the first time I ever helped at a vineyard harvest which really excited me. I then spent two years travelling and working in both New Zealand and Australia in hospitality and seasonal vineyard work.

I was extremely interested in learning the technical side of wine after that so when I returned to Dublin I completed a qualification with WSET, a global organisation which arranges courses and exams in the field of wine and spirits.

On completion, I started working as a sommelier in Shanahan’s on The Green where I worked for seven years. I spent one of those years working for a wine importer to learn that aspect of the industry and then joined The Shelbourne as head sommelier in 2012.

At The Shelbourne, there is never a typical day. As head sommelier, my role encompasses all aspects of the wine programme within the hotel to include all food and beverage outlets, banqueting and in-room dining, as well as training our staff to become more adept in the hotel’s extensive portfolio of wines and pairing them with food offerings.

It is very hard to pick one highlight as there are so many. Receiving any award is always great, but there are lots of other milestone moments alongside these as I have grown in both knowledge and wine confidence.

However, tasting with the cellar master in Domaine de la Romanée-Conti has to be up there.

Where wine is made you will also find great food, and working in the hospitality industry through wine, brings you to some of the best places in the world.

Wine is also one of this planet’s most intriguing and ever-changing products. But more than anything, it’s the people and the passion that fuels this industry. It’s not like anything else, it’s big business but rooted in nature and emotion. Working in hospitality lets me bring that back to the team and ultimately the guest.

The biggest challenge for me was when I was ill with what started as flu and left me with sinusitis, which took away all ability to smell or taste. It lasted for months. I was devastated. I thought all I had worked for was over. Finally, after various courses and steroids, it gradually returned with the twist that I’m now hyper sensitive to corkiness in wine!

- Nisea Doddy is head sommelier at The Shelbourne, Dublin. theshelbourne.com

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