Interview with Maxime Sanzot
At 23 years old, Maxime Sanzot was voted best sommelier in Belgium by the Michelin guide. He founded the restaurant and wine bar Racines alongside his partner, Louise, and is also a big fan of Bordeaux Great Growths. Even if he recommends drinking beer with moules-frites!
Hello Maxime and congratulations! Being voted best sommelier in Belgium at 23 is an incredible achievement!
It is a tremendous reward and it’s really encouraging as it confirms my passion, my ideas, and my beliefs. Being a sommelier is about passion, sharing, and meeting customers and winegrowers. And for me, the greatest recognition I can receive is pleasing customers.
Why did you decide to become a sommelier?
Everything fell into place in my final years of studying hospitality. I had the opportunity to take part in sommellerie contests and I became passionate about wine. I am naturally curious and the world of wine is incredibly vast and stimulating. It touches upon various subjects, such as biology, history and much more. In the wine industry, there is always something new to learn and discover, it’s really exciting!
"These were the first wines I ever drank. The Bordeaux region therefore has a special place in my heart. It conjures up memories of being with my family and at school (...)"
What is your relationship with Bordeaux Great Growths?
I first became acquainted with wine through the Bordeaux Great Growths since my father was a big fan of Bordeaux wines. In particular Saint-Emilion. On special occasions at home, there was always a bottle of Saint-Emilion on the table. These were the first wines I ever drank. The Bordeaux region therefore has a special place in my heart. It conjures up memories of being with my family and at school, since I had the chance to discover Bordeaux on wine trips during my studies.
Do you have any special memories from these trips?
I had the chance to take part in a competition organised in Pessac-Léognan, an appellation I am particularly fond of. When you have the opportunity to visit estates such as Haut-Bailly, Carbonnieux and Smith Haut Lafitte, you can only admire the work involved. Not forgetting these are legendary places where you are bound to feel something. There is the historic, architectural aspect too. Beyond wine, Château Smith Haut Lafitte left a lasting impression on me. I realise I was really lucky to be able to visit such places.
We tend to think of Belgium as a land of beer lovers more than wine lovers. Is this really the case?
Belgium has always loved wine, but wine culture is increasingly developing. Only just a few years ago, wine suffered from a stuffy, old-fashioned image. Nowadays, there is a growing interest, particularly from the younger generations. The public are paying greater attention to what they consume and the wine industry is making efforts to be synonymous with transparency and honesty and people are attuned to this. It’s become fashionable to be interested in wine and it’s great!