Roberto Colombi

Boca Raton Resort and Club
501 East Camino Real
Boca Raton, FL 33432
(561) 447-3222

Wine Tips »

Antoinette Bruno: How did you develop an interest in wine?
Roberto Colombi: All my family is in the wine field, and my uncle is a sommelier. When I was 13 he took me to my first wine fair in Italy – that’s when I started to develop my palate. After that I went to culinary school in Brescia, Italy, and joined the Association of Italian Sommeliers.

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Sommelier Roberto Colombi
Cielo | Boca Raton


Wine wunderkind Roberto Colombi, barely 25 years old, started his career at age 14 in a local restaurant in the province of Bergamo, Italy, called Abacanto. His uncle was both the restaurant manager and sommelier, and Colombmi got right to work, tasting wines and tagging along on trips to wine fairs and cellars around Northern Italy.

After working and traveling through his early teenage years, Colombi went to hotel school in Darfo Boario Terme in Crescia, Italy. He completed his diploma in 2000, at age 18, and continued working in wine at his family’s restaurant, Le Terrazze, joining the Associazione Italiana Sommelier in 2002. Colombi worked at Antico Albergo, a traditional Italian restaurant in Milan, before joining Gualtiero Marchesi at his 2 Michelin Star Restaurant in Erbusco in Franciacorta, a region famous for its sparkling wines. At Ristorante Gualtiero Marchesi, Colombi had the opportunity to work with Nicola Zanini, recognized as the “best sommelier in Italy” in 2002.

In late 2003, Colombi relocated to England to learn English and work for Angela Hartnett at the Connaught Hotel in Mayfair, London. In 2005 he was promoted to Assistant Head Sommelier, and in 2007 he left England for a Head Sommelier position at Cielo by Angela Hartnett in Boca Raton, Florida.

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Interview Cont'd

AB: Where have you worked previously?
RC: I started in Italy with Gualtiero Marchesi. Then he sent me to London to work for Angela Hartnett. While there I staged at Gordon Ramsay and Petrus in London.

AB: What courses have you taken? Certifications?
RC: I did the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust program in London, and I started the Master program in 2006. I’ve completed the first level – I haven’t done the advanced.

AB: What is your philosophy on wine and food?
RC: For me, food is the best to taste with is water. It is natural. Wine changes the taste of food – but it can change it in a better way. That is where I come in. My job is to teach the customer how to drink and enjoy wine in a better way. I want to give the customer something they will remember.

AB: What is your favorite wine?
RC: Barolo - I grew up in Piedmont. I also love Nebbiolo. It's robust and with character.

AB: What is your favorite wine resource book and author?
RC: I prefer a wine atlas - it teaches me not only about the wine, but the terroir and the type of soil. It gives more of an idea of what the wine can be.

AB: Tell me about a perfect wine and food match that you discovered.
RC: Scallops and Chardonnay. The scallop is a delicate kind of fish, with lots of character. Chardonnay has a creamy and buttery taste.

AB: What wines do you favor for your cellar at home?
RC: Bordeaux - old vintages. I have a lot of respect for French wines. In 1855 they started in Bordeaux with classifications.

AB: Is there someone you’d consider a mentor?
RC: Gualtiero Marchesi. I learned everything from him – about life and how to work in a proper way.

AB: What languages do you speak?
RC: Italian, English and French

AB: What are your ultimate career goals?  Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
RC: Hopefully in a winery making wine!

AB: To what extent do you control the wine list? How much existed before you arrived?
RC: I control 99%. It was a new restaurant when I came, so I built it all. I do all the wine buying as well.

AB: How do you compile the wine list?
RC: We are an Italian restaurant, so mainly Italian, but we also have other European and new world wines.

AB: What regions are you interested in at the moment?
RC: Wines from the United States, because I am new here and want to learn about American wines.

AB: How does Miami compare to London?
RC: The difference between London and here is that in London they drink a lot more.

AB: Which person in history would you most like to share a bottle of wine?
RC: My father.

AB: If you weren’t a sommelier, what would you be doing?
RC: I would be a farmer.

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   Published: February 2008