Preparation insight supporting the Master Sommelier Diploma

Svetoslav Manolev, Head Sommelier at Flemings Mayfair in London, and its restaurant Ormer Mayfair by Chef Shaun Rankin, is the first Bulgarian to be awarded the honor of Master Sommelier by The Court of Master Sommeliers. Candidates have to pass a practical exam where they are tested on their ability to execute tasks like decanting wine, pouring sparkling wine and serving customers in a simulated restaurant scenario. After that there is a blind tasting exam comprised of six wines, three whites and three reds, as well as an oral exam.

Svet has dedicated wine specialist experience that spans ten years at properties like 67 Pall, COYA Mayfair, Park Chinois and Roka. He works alongside Michelin star-awarded chef Shaun Rankin at the Ormer Mayfair and is responsible for all the operational management of the wines across the entire property.



Congratulations on being the first Bulgarian to have been awarded the top honor of Master Sommelier by The Court of Master Sommeliers. Can you tell us a little more about this award?


The first Master Sommelier examination was held in 1969 in London with the aim to help establish high quality standards in the beverage industry and it is now the premier examining body for wine and beverage professionals worldwide with courses being conducted throughout Europe, Oceania, Asia and the Americas. There are four levels of qualifications offered by the Court – Introductory, Certified, Advanced and Master sommelier diploma each with increasing level of difficulty. Since its inception in 1969 and until now, only 262 professionals have gained the Master Sommelier Diploma so I feel very honored to be one of them.


How did you prepare for the final exams, which took place at the historic Stift Klosterneuburg monastery in Austria?


Preparing for a high-level examination like this is a very long process and it requires thousands of hours of studying theory plus tasting wine every single day; comparing styles, producers and so on. Traveling and visiting vineyards and producers is also extremely important in order to gain first-hand knowledge and experience from the winemakers themselves.


Can you tell us about your wine background and how you believe this award will assist you to serve your guests better?


I have now been in the wine industry for 7 years and in hospitality for over 12. During this time, I have been very fortunate to work in the best establishments in the business and visit many wine regions and wineries in the process. All that knowledge and experience is what helps me deliver the best possible guest experience at all times. The Master sommelier diploma was a way for me to validate my knowledge and something to look forward to in the process.


How do you describe your favorite wine? What words resonate with you?


As a sommelier I taste thousands of different wines every year, so it is very difficult to choose just one favourite and that is the best thing about wine. There is no single best wine, each bottle is unique and has its own charm and character, so I always have a few bottles in mind for every occasion and every taste. At the end of the day, the most important quality a sommelier can have is to be unbiased and listen carefully. I don’t like selling the same wine to every single guest in the restaurant just because I like the wine, instead I try to figure out the likes and dislikes of the guest and find something appropriate for their taste.


How would you inspire others to follow your path?


When I started in the industry, I was always looking to find a place where I could learn something new and someone to look up to in the organisation. Now that I am in a position to mentor and teach others, I take that very seriously and try to help anyone who is willing to learn and grow and of course put the necessary work in.

Svetoslav Manolev