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Ever wondered exactly what a Sommelier (suh-mal-’yAy) does? This month we put the spotlight on James Boden, Head Sommelier at the National Wine Centre, to take a look behind the scenes with someone who lives and breathes wine.

James, what does your role at the National Wine Centre involve?

I have a really multi-faceted role as the Head Sommelier.  I talk to people that come into the Centre about new wineries and the industry, as well as recommending what to taste. I host tours, masterclasses and cellar dining experiences and do a lot of research on what wines are on trend and touch base with new and established wineries. I select the wines available for all of the conferences, events and festivals held at the Wine Centre, as well as looking after the range of wine on tasting through our Enomatic system.  This includes deciding which wines to stock to keep them varied and interesting, and coaching the National Wine Centre team on what is happening in the world of wine.

What made you pursue a career in wine?

I have always enjoyed wine and find the industry fascinating. I enjoy geography, geology and history, and knowledge about wine includes all of that and so much more. The hospitality side also keeps me active, I never sit long hours at a desk and am always on my feet engaging with new people from all walks of life.

What is your favourite part about working at the National Wine Centre?

I’m able to select wines from all over Australia, and this gives me the thrill of seeing someone fall in love with a wine they have never heard of or tried before. Those moments are the most rewarding for me, as I have the opportunity to help people go outside of their comfort zone and discover new varietals, bespoke wineries and different regions.  It’s a fun way to showcase our industry.

What do you think is the most interesting thing happening in the wine industry in Australia?

Climate change is bringing new wine varietals into Australia’s 65 wine regions – for example, we are seeing wine makers moving to Tasmania, and it is really emerging as an up and coming region. It will be exciting to see what comes out of Tassie over the next ten years.

What wine will you be taking to Christmas lunch this year?

Christmas calls for Champagne, so I will be taking a bottle of Louis Roederer Brut - always a fan favourite!  I’ll also select a nice red from my cellar, maybe a St Hugo Cabernet.  It’s a classic red, and matches beautifully with traditional Christmas fare.