Women in Wine - Bridget Raffal
Thursday, March 7, 2019 in News
Women in Wine: Bridget Raffal
Bridget Raffal is Head Sommelier at Sixpenny, one of Sydney’s (if not Australia’s) must-do dining experiences. The menu (which you’ll see only when you’ve finished) takes local produce to another level via contemporary techniques presented with service that approaches choreography. Sporting three-hats and a steady stream of awards, Sixpenny’s ambition in food is mirrored by Bridget’s in the wine list.
It’s extensive without being exhausting, ambitious without being intimidating. Reading the list alone brings pleasure. But there’s more to the wine list than what is to be expected from a restaurant at Sixpenny’s level. Read on to find out how Bridget changing the conversation around wine.
Bridget Raffal, Head Sommelier at Sixpenny
What first drew you to wine?
I have a background in hospitality management. Wine was a passion of mine while working on that side so it was a natural next step for me. I wanted to formalise my interest, so I completed the Court of Master Sommeliers programme in 2017.
But you became the Head Sommelier for Sixpenny in 2017. Was your first sommelier post as Head Somm at Sixpenny?
Yes. But I was already working with wine at the restaurant before that. Once I became a certified somm, we formalised the position.
“...start with the last glass of wine you loved or hated.”
What drove this process of equality on your wine list?
Well, there are so many women making wine but they’re not represented on the label. For example speaking to Dan Standish, who is a great winemaker, he makes wine with his wife Nicole but it’s his name on the bottle. It's really about addressing unconscious bias.
When talking to a customer about the wine, what information do you look for to get them the right glass?
A good way to start is with the last glass of wine you loved or hated. I can get a pretty good idea of where you want to go from there. Price point is important. If you want to spend $70 on a bottle of wine there’s no point in me suggesting a $500 bottle. You can always just point at the price on the list.
Away from Sixpenny, what are you drinking at the moment?
Light-bodied, chilled reds. Dark rosés, I think people are starting to look beyond those very pale Provence styles for something with more fruit. I love Gamay or cooler climate Syrah. But it’s also hard to go passed really great Chardonnay.
Is there a particular region you look to for Chardonnay?
Beechworth. They just don’t seem to make any bad wine.
Who is the woman in the wine industry who has influenced you the most?
Gabrielle Webster. When she was at Love, Tilly Devine in Darlinghurst I just thought, ‘wow, that’s how you make a wine list.’ She’s now at Icebergs in Bondi, she’s just cool.
“...we get to talk to customers about the wines, who made them and that they’re made by women. ”
To turn the question around. How do you think you do or can influence the wine industry?
Just having the conversation around the wine list, about the winemakers. Changing the conversation. Talking about misogyny in the industry. More Chat. And making sure the money goes in the right direction – that we’re paid the same.
Read more interviews from our Women in Wine series.