Salvatore Castano: I believe that Georgia can have a glorious future in the wine industry

Salvatore Castano: I believe that Georgia can have a glorious future in the wine industry

Salvatore, growing up in the rich wine heritage of Sicily and then establishing yourself in the global wine industry is no small feat. How has your Sicilian background influenced your journey and your approach to wine?

As you know in icily it’s really hard to find international wines, so my knowledge was more limited to Italian products. But as soon as I arrived in London, I discovered a new World, full of wines from anywhere around the planet. It was a new start for me.


You’re returning to the IWSC Wine Judging in Georgia after your experience last year. What are your reflections on the Georgian wines you judged previously, and what are you looking forward to exploring this year?

Last year I was happy to understand the quality and the potential of Georgian wines. Of course, not all the wines were outstanding, but I believe that this year, after the feedback we gave to the producers in the past, we are going to experience a much more incredible tasting experience.


Working in one of Alain Ducasse’s restaurants, “The Dorchester,” must have been a transformative experience. How did this shape your perspective on pairing wines with haute cuisine?

For a Young Sommelier, working in a Michelin Star/Luxury environment is probably the most exciting place to be. I became really strong in French wine knowledge there, but the wine pairing for me has always been the funniest part of the Sommelier task. Every day, even at home, I try to experiment weird pairing, because for me matching wines/drinks with food has no strict rules.


As the On Trade Advisor & Wine Buyer at Friarwood Fine Wines, you have a pivotal role in selecting wines for a discerning clientele. What criteria do you prioritize, and how does your judging experience inform your buying decisions?

The criteria I prioritize are the following:

  • Quality of the product
  • Price
  • Is it an easy wine to sell?
  • People know this grape/appellation?
  • Market domand
  • Time of the year (summer/winter)


Georgia is renowned for its ancient wine-making techniques, notably qvevri wine-making. How do you perceive these traditional wines in the context of contemporary wine trends?

People are enjoying ancient wine more and more nowadays. People loves wines with minimum intervention, low sulphites, natural wines, and Georgia has it all. I believe that Georgia can have a glorious future in the wine industry, not just because of the history behind, but because of the quality of the wines produced. I never had a better qvevri wine outside of Georgia.


Having judged a multitude of wines across various regions, have you noticed any emerging trends or underrepresented regions that you believe deserve more attention on the global stage?

Lately I have tried sweet wines from Moldavia and I was amazed by the quality, and when I looked at the price, I was even more impressed, they were so inexpensive. Every day you hear about new Wine places around the World, the reality is that every Countries are now starting to produce quality wines.


Salvatore, reflecting on the impressive accolades from last year’s IWSC Wine judging in Georgia, With Georgia receiving such a high number of medals in the previous competition, including gold, silver, and bronze, do you believe this sets a higher benchmark for the wines being judged this year?

I am sure the level will be higher this year, which will make our life easier. I am sure that this year we’ll have an amazing wine judging and I look forward to discover few more jewels of the Georgian heritage.