Like every other success story in the beverage industry, Shamini Krishnan started off as a service staff. The then-hostess eventually went on to train as a sommelier at Les Amis in Singapore before moving on to stints at Esquina and Bacchanalia. Today, the fun-loving woman curates the wine programme for the exclusive private club 1880, which includes an all-day-dining restaurant and bar.
This edition of Eye Candy, Shamini reveals how her personality and style affects her attitude towards wine.
Hi Shamini – please tell us a bit more about your start in the industry!
It was at my first job at CUT by Wolfgang Puck where I learned the ropes of the service industry. I was a hostess, where everyone in the industry starts of. I was very lucky that the then-general manager, Adam Crocini, saw something in me that I didn’t even see in myself at the time. Stepping onto the service floor and the kitchen was like a whole new world. I had picked up the ‘hostess sense’ very quickly but at the same time, I was still itching to know more, to learn more.
Can you recount the moment you first fell in love with wine?
Definitely! It was when I opened my very first white wine – Albariño from Pazo Senorans. I fell in love with it after my then-manager at Esquina told me it was a very special type of white wine and brought me to a Spanish wine-tasting event, where I met the producer. He told me that it was special because of the location of the Albariño vineyard.
You’re now the sommelier at 1880 – can you share more about the wine programme that you’ve curated?
The entire wine programme at 1880 is a journey through my career, from the managers and producers that influenced me into wines, to the staffs and chefs. It’s essentially a journey of where I’ve been, what I’ve been taught, and what I believe in. I guess you can say it is quite a personal list?
Another thing I do with my wine list is feature wines from lesser-known winemakers. We recently hosted Ministry of Clouds at 1880. I got to speak with the producer, who makes her own wines, and asked her an endless amount of technical questions. Seeing other peoples’ passion really drives me in what I do, which includes making my own wines one day.
Want to learn more about what being a sommelier entails? Read our take on the documentary, ‘SOMM’.
Some of your favourite bottles at the moment?
I’ll give three – two reds, and one white. The first is Blossoms from Gentle Folk. They have only 36 bottles for 2017, and I have all 36 bottles here at 1880. The second is the 1997 Prieuré Roch, who is the co-owner of the DRC (Domaine de la Romanée-Conti). I think it is the last bottle floating around Southeast Asia. Again, I was very lucky to get it, thanks to good supplier contacts. The final one, the white wine, is Vouvray from the Loire Valley. It is a wine I really want on my list. It’s hardly seen in Singapore and on lists here, but I feel it is one of those gorgeous white wines that you must have.
What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
I’m a big fan of ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians”! I’ve seen every single episode, and I even back-watched. I’m basically their biggest fan. In fact, if I was not a sommelier, I would probably be in LA right now trying to be a nanny for Kim Kardashian West at this moment.
We hear you’re also a fan of reggae. Who do you listen to?
Yes! My first exposure to reggae music was during my Indian classical dance class when I was eight or nine years old. There was a ballet class going on next door and the teacher had put on some reggae – I think it was Lauryn Hill – and I remember thinking “Oh my goodness, what is that!” and wanting to dance along to it. I was, and am still not, your cookie cutter Indian girl. I listen to Sean Paul, Lauryn Hill, Bob Marley, and sometimes Peter Tosh. But now I’m really a mix and have gone more into rap and hip-hop. At this very moment, I love G-Eazy.
Does your own style inform your wine selection?
Yes, definitely! My style is a mix of bohemian and classic. This is not only reflected in my clothes and the way I look, but also in my wines. So, in my wine list, I will have the classics – the perfect clean wines – and something that represents myself. I will have hip, cool, and natural wine makers mixed in.
What is it like to be the wine nerd among your group of friends?
Actually, I have two ‘groups’ of friends. One who are extreme wine nerds so I’m usually the one listening to them and wondering what they would say next. My other group of friends don’t know anything about wines, so I don’t usually talk to them about it. Personally, I wouldn’t talk to someone about wines because usually, they won’t really know what to say. Also, I don’t want to put them in a situation where they feel they need to impress me, because they don’t.
What are some not-so-glamorous things about being a somm that people don’t know about?
Stocktaking at the end of every month is the hardest thing for me. My wine list is not the biggest, but it’s still relatively messy. Wines are also like the stock market – there’s always a limited supply of wines from a certain producer, from a specific year so you really need to know what is going on in the wine world and have good relationships with your wine suppliers to be able to get the wines you want. Being a sommelier also involves a lot of manual labour and administration work such as carrying wine boxes, keeping stock and making sure you replace wines and clean out the wine bottles and fridge.
Lastly, where did you get that green dress? It’s gorgeous.
Really? Thank you! I got it at Editor’s Market – I love them, and I always stay up to date with what they have. In fact, I like all local blog shops and I try to support them as much as I can, along with homegrown brands.
Shamini Krishnan is the sommelier at the members-only club, 1880, in Singapore.