With a career that started with a Masters in Marketing from Toulouse Business School, Cyril Meidinger, a WSET Level 4 student, tells us how he came to South Africa by accident and fell in love with the region and its wines. This then lead to him representing South Africa this year at the Blind Tasting World Championship in Beziers, Languedoc.
What inspired you to start a career in the wine world?
Working at a tasting room for a summer job on a Greek Island called Kefalonia opened my eyes and my palate on this amazing product which is wine. But besides the product, I discovered that people in the wine world all share the same values of enjoying good food, good company and share a common way of life.
You are currently enrolled for the WSET Diploma, how are you balancing your studying alongside your full-time job?
Luckily my full-time job involves learning about wine and tasting on a regular basis. On top of that, I get to travel every other month overseas and I have the chance to experience foreign wines often. However, every evening and week-ends are dedicated to sit-down studies of the WSET Diploma.
How does your WSET education help you in your role?
It gives me more confidence when speaking with both my suppliers (the wineries) and my clients (the importers) and increases my technical knowledge. Also, it broadens my international perspective on wines and on the international trade.
You work with both the African and American markets, what would you say are the key differences between consumers and their wine preferences in each market?
As taste profiles, I would say that interestingly enough, both African and American markets tend to go for similar styles, with ripe, round, low tannic wines and sometimes a touch of sweetness. The biggest difference is in their characters and the way to handle the relationships with the clients.
What has been your most memorable wine moment?
Hearing the South African National Anthem from the Chateau Angelus bells.
What are your plans for your future in wine?
Producing my own wine both in the Southern and Northern Hemisphere.