Meet the Team: Our Sommelier, Cinthia Howell

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Dining at our restaurant in Cheltenham is always a special experience. Let’s find out about some of the staff behind the service…

Serving up fine wines for the past year, Cinthia has been a valuable addition to our food and beverage team at the hotel. We sat down with her to have a little chat about her time at the hotel and how she came to work at Ellenborough Park, our 5 star hotel in Cheltenham.

When did you join Ellenborough Park?

I joined the team on 27th February 2016, so have been here just over a year!

What qualifications do you have?

I’m a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers; advanced level 3 WSET and Advanced Ambassador of the Academy of wines of Portugal Level III.

What made you want to become a sommelier? 

I was fortunate enough to be recruited by 2 MS who conducted the wine program at The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida where I used to work. They offered a wine class for all their employees, which I decided to take. At the time, I was studying International Business at university and wine wasn’t on my radar. After that class, I realized how much passion I had for wine, learnt what a Sommelier did and, halfway through that class, I was asked to sit the Introductory Level through the Court of Master Sommeliers – that was the start of my Sommelier career.

What is your favourite wine to enjoy with friends?

It’s very hard for me to pick a favourite wine as I tend to like them all! I truly appreciate what every wine has to offer and I like to learn the reason behind their taste – from soil, weather and vilification to the history and culture of its origins, there is so much to learn about a bottle of wine.

I will say my wine selections are based on where I am, what I’m eating and who I’m having wine with. I’m more of a wine pleaser than to pick what I like most. On a sunny day, a nice Sancerre or Bordeaux Blanc might be my tipple of choice. I love my big California reds and Australian reds, but I have a soft spot for Malbecs as well.

Are there any exciting changes in Ellenborough Park’s wine list in 2017?

We’ve mainly been getting the list ready for Wine Spectator, which is a lifestyle magazine that focuses on wine and wine culture but also has a very good Restaurant Awards program. Bringing new wines and expanding our New World section, it’s a must this year. I have put a slightly personal twist on the list by adding lots of Argentinian, Australian and American wines. Coming from Argentina and living in America and Australia has meant I could share my personal experience with others. There is nothing more satisfying than that.

What advice would you give to anyone who is unsure about how to choose a good wine? 

I guess my best advice would be to never let wine intimidate you. Try the obscure and rare ones as those will tend to be more inexpensive and of a higher quality than your common ones.

Interested in learning a little more about the carefully selected wines at our restaurant in Cheltenham?

Book your table today.

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