Marcella Rondoni – A Passionate Sommelier!


Marcella is a sommelier with a passion for wine and companionship. She was born in Sardinia, where she grew up in a family that loved good food and wine. Her passion for wine led her to study and become a professional sommelier. She has worked in high-level wine bars and restaurants around the world, including London, Australia, and Cyprus, where she currently lives and works.

In the interview below, our sommelier Marcella, talks about her career path, the challenges, and rewards of being a sommelier, her philosophy on pairing wine with food, and the wine scene in Cyprus.

Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your background?

I come from Sardinia, the most beautiful island in the world. I grew up there in a large family, surrounded by mountains and just half an hour from the sea. I moved to Turin for university studies when I was 18, and that’s where my career in the wine industry began.

What inspired you to pursue a career as a sommelier?

In my family, good food and good wine were always present at the table, which was always full of relatives, friends, laughter, and companionship. When I was 20 years old and already living in Turin, I started working in a wine bar as a bartender and manager to earn some extra money, like most students do. I loved my job, I was very passionate and dedicated to it. During that time, I decided to start my career in the wine industry. I decided that I needed to start gaining specialized knowledge and improving my skills. I got my first professional wine diploma when I was 21 years old.

Can you share some experiences from your work in top-notch wine bars and restaurants in London and Australia?

One of the best things about my job is that I have the opportunity to work and travel, so I decided not to miss the chance to explore more food and wine cultures and, consequently, lifestyles! I lived for four years with my bags in hand ready for a new challenge. Starting from the small wild island of Alonnisos in the Northeastern Sporades, where I worked for an Italian restaurant, I then went to Australia where I had the great opportunity to work for the best Italian restaurant in the world according to the Gambero Rosso International 2019, a very well-known international food and wine guide. It was one of the best experiences of my life! I learned a lot. But the intensity was too much, so I went to London where I worked in a wine boutique shop and wine bar, similar to what I do now, in the center of London. “Mamma mia”. We were very busy! I had a lot of fun, made good friends and after London, another great experience was when I worked at Del Cambio in Turin, one of Italy’s oldest restaurants with a Michelin star. The working hours were many, the stress was full, but I had the opportunity to work alongside amazing professionals and passionate people for whom I will always be grateful!

What prompted you to move to Cyprus and work as a sommelier?

I wanted to travel to another country and learn Greek, as my husband is Greek. While we were in Alonnisos, I met a Cypriot couple who suggested I go to Limassol for work. I love islands, the sea, and the sun, so Cyprus was a very attractive destination for me. And here I am, after 6 years.

What are some of the challenges and rewards of being a sommelier?

A major challenge could be the extensive knowledge required, as continuous education and updating are necessary. Another could be the usual long working hours. However, I give more importance to the rewards. The satisfaction from the job, namely building relationships with people and helping them choose the perfect wine.

What is your philosophy when it comes to pairing wine with food?

Some pairings are based on contrast, others on texture, others on complementarity, and so on. Personally, I believe in local pairings, that is, pairings related to the culture of the place. This rule of locality is for me what leads to the most emotional and successful pairing. Of course, personal preferences play an important role, so don’t hesitate to explore and find pairings that match your own taste preferences.

What is the difference between working as a sommelier in a wine store compared to a restaurant?

To be honest, both are very demanding and exciting. Perhaps a big difference is that I have the opportunity to broaden my clientele’s horizon in terms of wine knowledge and experience, as we have a greater variety of wines than in a restaurant

What are some of the most popular and interesting wines you sell in your store?

Certainly, wines from popular wine-producing regions of France and Italy, such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Provence, the Loire Valley, Tuscany, and Veneto. But our customers also appreciate and seek wines from small and not so well-known appellations and regions, or even New World countries like Chile and Argentina.

How would you describe the wine landscape in Cyprus? What are the emerging trends?

I believe that in Cyprus, there is a notable commitment to improving the overall quality of Cypriot wines. Winemakers invest in modern winemaking techniques, in tourism, in indigenous grape varieties, and in upgrading their wines. They explore new trends such as sustainability, orange and natural wines, local wine, and food pairings.

What is your favorite wine region in the world and why?

Piedmont, where my career began. I will never tire of opening a nice bottle of a crisp Arneis or an elegant and sophisticated Nebbiolo, such as Barolo or Barbaresco. Wines with amazing aging potential and complexity. But I also love the wines of Sardinia.

What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a sommelier?

To definitely have a lot of passion and discipline. And to taste many wines!

What are your plans for the future? Do you have any ambitions to open your own wine bar or restaurant?

My future is with my family, my daughter, and my husband. I don’t like to plan too far ahead. I dream of returning to Sardinia one day, perhaps to work for a nice winery or to open something of my own. But today I truly enjoy and love my work at Wine & More! I am lucky to work with Mr. Christophe Chaillou, with whom I share the same passion for food, wine, and companionship.

Interview by Florentia Kythraiotou for the magazine: TASTE Wine & Dine (Issue 147)