Raimonds Tomsons: ”I still see a niche for a great wine bar in Riga”

Raimonds Tomsons.
Andreas Grube
Published 19-December-2019
Interview / Riga

Top sommelier Raimonds Tomsons, Best Sommelier in Europe 2017, now puts the Baltics on the Star Wine List map by selecting his top three wine spots in Riga.

”The wine scene in restaurants, both casual and fine dining, is far more developed when it comes to wine than the bars. I still see a niche for a great wine bar in Riga,” says Raimonds.

Raimonds Tomsons, today Head Sommelier at restaurant Vincents in Riga, started working with wine on a serious level in 2006. Today he's one of the worlds most acclaimed sommeliers; he won Best Sommelier in Europe 2017 and came third in Best Sommelier of the World 2019.

”I actually studied at Riga Tourism school in 1999 and got an internship as a waiter and bartender at Vincents during that summer. After the summer the manager asked me if I could stay, and I did – till present day! At Vincents, I found my passion for wine, food and hospitality”, he says.

Now he has selected three of his favourite wine places in Riga, Star Wine List’s first in the Baltics.

The wine scene in restaurants, both casual and fine dining, is far more developed than the bars

”I would say there are two different kinds of wine bars in Riga today. A number of them focus on wine lovers with basic knowledge, people who have started to understand what they like and not, and these venues offer a good basic selection of wines. And then there are a few wine bars for more educated, experienced and demanding wine lovers and professionals, and those lists are more exciting and well developed. The wine scene in restaurants, both casual and fine dining, is far more developed than the bars, with some very good lists and concepts. I still see a niche for a great wine bar in Riga!

How has the wine scene in Riga evolved in the last few years?
”It seems like people are becoming more open-minded, wanting to try new things. They are more educated and more demanding! Brands are becoming less important, grower champagne has become trendy, and guests are looking for more personal lists. Guests are also more price-sensitive today.”

Apart from grower champagne, which are the biggest wine trends in Riga right now?
”Natural wines are slowly entering, organic and bio-dynamic producers. Still, France and Italy are huge, but countries like Austria, Germany (both for whites), Spain and Portugal are becoming increasingly popular!”

”What would you like to see less/more of when it comes to wine bars in Riga?
”I would love to see less big branded, and overpriced, lists with no personal touch, and more well-thought-through, compact and personal wine lists with good by the glass-selections.”

How would you describe the general wine consumer in Riga?
”In general, they are knowledgeable but also very classic in terms of wine choice. Only a few are ready to experience new wine styles and regions; it looks we need more time with that.”

How do you think the wine scene in Riga will develop the upcoming years?
”I think it will become more open-minded and curious when it comes to wines from new and lesser-known regions and producers. Less care about brands, and more towards organic. I also think it will become even more educated and well-informed.”

Check out the wine list at Vincents below.

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