Dusan Vranic, sommelier: ‘A magic land of wine’

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~ Milica Puric ~

Dusan Vranic has one of the rarest and unusual jobs. He is a sommelier — a wine connoisseur, taster and “describer” who sells wines to the guests in expensive luxury American restaurants. The word “sommelier” came from French and means connoisseur and wine taster. This profession brings Dusan Vranic into situations where he meets people who do not regret spending a couple of hundred, even thousands of dollars to experience the pleasure of drinking the divine beverage. They also pay for Dusan’s knowledge and incredible anecdotes about wines, vineyards, climate, geographical regions of the specific wines and for stories about history and political turmoils in the wine’s country of origin.

Tasting wines wasn’t always Dusan’s profession. He graduated from Sports Academy in Serbia and came to America in 2006. At that time he didn’t know anything about wine and was interested just in sport. He intended to continue with a master’s in sport, but in order to pay his bills, he had to work. So he started working as a waiter in one Philadelphia restaurant and slowly became interested in wines.

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Dusan Vranic with other sommeliers – Maksimilijan Lužaić, Bojan Vranic and Bruno PerTeran Trapan

Dusan Vranic: “Two or three years went by. I worked in the same restaurant and soon realized I could taste wines, I could work in that field. I decided to take a professional wine course in Philadelphia. Then, something exploded in me. I realized — everything I liked in my life — geography, geology, architecture, history, biology, even politics — all these were reflected in the wines. There was a common knowledge about everything collected in wines. In order to know the wines, an expert must know geography, history, geology, architecture, biology, politics. … He must learn how to connect things,” Dusan said.

Soon after that, Dusan was invited to be an Italian wines lecturer in Philadelphia, and he worked there for six months. Drive and passion for wines took him further, so he passed another test and got a certificate as a professional wine specialist. Soon he became a member of the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers organization. At that time he worked as a wine director and general manager in Moshulu, one of the most famous restaurants in Philadelphia, which also happens to be on a ship. He spent seven years there. With his knowledge of the wines and the constant ambition to learn more and be better in his job, he moved to New York.

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Dusan Vranic in Opus-One-winery-Napa

Dusan Vranic: “A good opportunity appeared in New York, and nobody rejects that city. As a matter of fact, after New York, you can work wherever you want. I applied for the job in the West Village and was immediately invited to work there.” He said he was delighted with the Big Apple. “It is unbelievable how much money people have in New York and how much wines I can taste.”

Talking about his job, he says that a good sommelier must be a good psychologist who can “read” people who can spend thousands of dollars for a wine. “These people are willing to pay a lot of money for a few bottles. Recently, we had a guest who was a fan of Burgundy wine. He praised our selection of these wines, and he bought a bottle of the famous Romanée-Conti wine for $ 3,000! Also, there was a Frenchman from Paris who worked in the wine company and praised our wine list. He said we included all the classic regions of wines, years, prices. … That was very nice recognition. Also we had a rich couple — she was from Paris and he was from Mexico City, and they spent $700 for wines. They called me for the suggestion. They wanted to hear something about the region, the producer, the year of production. When they finished their dinner they were very happy, not only because they drank good wine and spent a lot of money, which obviously they have, but also because they got new insights.

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The most satisfying thing for Dusan is the fact that he works with people. “Sommelier must be a diplomat,” he said. “It happens that our guests sometimes ask us something we don’t know. In those moments it’s very important to be wise, smart and find an easy way out. We were trained to these situations during our courses. Sometimes they create a situation that distracts us and prevents us from concentrating — for example, someone hits the door or yells at the moment when you try to concentrate and answer a question — but it is always important to stay focused and calm. All these are natural obstacles.”

To all those who would like to do what Dusan does, he recommends traveling more and going to different food and wine festivals.

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Dusan Vranic at wine and coffee class at famous Philadelphia boat – restaurant ‘Moshulu’

Dusan Vranic: “Not only they can learn a lot about wines, but they would get to know other sommeliers and wine producers. Also, I would recommend them to try in restaurants as many as possible different wines, to be adventurous, to visit as many as possible wine regions. That knowledge about wines always will stay as a part of the culture, no matter whether you going to be a professional or not. Every time you are with other people of different occupations there will be at least two persons who will share the same passion for the wines as you do. The more you know the better for you because nothing brings people together like a good wine!”

After the trendy, clubby ‘Standard Grill’ restaurant, Dusan Vranic started working at the beautiful ‘Clocktower’ restaurant owned by Stephen Starr and as a wine director in beautiful ‘Riverpark’, which belongs to Tom Colicchio.  There he hosted several wine auctions, among others Master Blender of Courvoisier cognac house etc. Also, he said that among 1000 candidates he and other 149 other wine professionals got accepted for advanced sommelier examination in November 2017 in the Court of master sommelier in Saint Luis.

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SRPSKA VERZIJA – SERBIAN TRANSLATION

Dušan Vranić, somelijer: Carobna zemlja vina

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Dusan Vranic degustira specijalno vino je sacuvano u buradima od bademovog drveta

Dušan Vranić ima jedno od retkih i neobičnih zanimanja. On je somelijer, poznavalac vina, degustator i ‘opisivač‘ vina koji u skupim i luksuznim američkim restoranima degustira, opisuje i prodaje vina bogatim gostima. Rec ‘somelijer’ potiče iz francuskog jezika i znači poznavalac i degustator vina, a ova profesija dovodi Dušana Vranića svakog dana u situacije u kojima upoznaje ljude koji ne žale da potroše nekoliko stoina, čak hiljada dolara kako bi li iskusili užitak ispijanja božanskog napitka. Oni takodje plaćaju i za Dušanovo znanje o vinima, za njegove priče o poreklu vina, vinogradima, klimi i geografskoj regiji odakle je vino poteko, istoriji, političkim previranjima u zemlji, svemu onom što profesionalni poznavalac vina, odnosno somelijer mora da zna.

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Jedno od najstarijih Prokupac vina u Zupi i Srbiji, više od 100 godina

Dušan Vranić nije oduvek bio somelijer. U Ameriku je iz Srbije došao 1996. godine kao dimplomirani difovac. Malo pre toga upisao je postdiplomske studije u Nišu na kineziologiji i sportu, a o vinima nije znao bas ništa. Njegov glavni cilj bio je da nastavi sa sportom, da bude profesor fizičkog vaspitanja. Nostrifikovao je dimplomu, a da bi placao račune počeo je da radi kao konobar u jednom filadelfijskom restoranu. Tu se zainteresovao za vina.

“Prošle su dve tri godine, a ja sam video da se tu prodaje jako mnogo skupih vina, da je tu mnogo novca. Video sam da mi leži znanje o vinima, degustacija, pa sam odlučio da upišem kurs vina u Filadefiji. Uporedo sam radio u tom istom restoranu još dve godine, a onda kao da je nešto eksplodiralo u meni. Shvatio sam da sve ono što sam voleo u životu – geografija, geologija, arhitektura, istorija, biologija, pa čak i politika – da se sve to odražava u vinima. U njima je sve to isprepleteno, a da bi poznavao vina stručnjak mora odlično da poznaje geografiju, istoriju, politiku, da nauči kako da povezuje stvar,” kaže naš sagovornik.

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Seminar vina u NJujorku predstavljen od strane Christy Canterbury, majstora vina 

Dušana su ubrzo pozvali da bude predavač na kursevima o italijanskim vinima u Filadefiji i tu je radio šest meseci. Interesovanje prema vinima vuklo ga je dalje u nova saznjanja, pa je prošao još jedan test i dobio sertifikat kao poznavalac vina. Došao je do organizacije somelijera ‘Master of someliers’ jedne od naprestižnijih organizacija za sertifikovanje profesionalaca. Sa svojim znanjem o vinima i stalnom ambicijom da nauči što vise i bude što bolji u svom poslu, sedam godina je radio u čuvenom filadefijskom restoranu – jedrenjaku ‘Mošulu’ (Moshulu). Ipak prešao je u Njujork i svoju karijeru nastavio u ovom velikom gradu.

“Pojavila se dobra prilika za moj posao, a posle Njujorka čovek može da radi gde god hoće. U ‘Mošulu’ sam proveo sedam godina, došao do pozicije vinskog direktora i generalnog menadzera i ponudjeno mi je da otvorim novi restoran sa poznatim šefom u Filadefiji. Medjutim, aplicirao sam za isti posao u Njujorku u Vest Vilidzu i odmah bio pozvan da tamo radim’, kaže on i naglašava da ga je ovaj velegrad oduševio. – Neverovatno je koliko ljudi tamo imaju novca i koliko vina mogu da pobam. To samo može da mi doda gorivo na mom putu da idem dalje do master somelijera’.

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Ch. Gruaud Larose St. Julien 2004

Dušan dodaje da gostima pomaže svojim preporukama, a pomoć se zasniva na tome koliko novca su spremni da potroše.

“Treba biti dobar psiholog I proceniti ko može da potroši hiljadu dolara za neko vino. Takvim bogatim gostima nikako ne treba preporučiyi neko jeftino vino – kaže on I priseća se da je nedavno imao gosta koji mu je rekao da je njegov restoran jedan od tri restorana u kojima se prodaju kvalitetna vina iz Kalifornije koja koštaju 300 dolara po flaši. Takvi ljudi spremni su da plate dosta, da kupe još nekoliko flaša vina. Tako sam imao gosta koji jako voli Burgundi vina. Pohvalio je našu selekciju vina, a njemu sam, recimo, prodao čuvenu flašu ‘Romane Conti’ za 3,000 dolara! Bio je tu i jedan Francuz iz Pariza koji radi u vinskoj kompaniji i on je jako pohvalno govorio o našoj listi. Rekao je obuhvatamo sve klasične regione po vinima, godinama, cenama… Bilo je to jako lepo priznanje. Takodje pre nekoliko noći u restoranu su večerali devojka iz Pariza i momak iz Meksiko Sitija. Njih dvoje su popili tri flaše vina i potrošili oko 700 dolara! Kad su naručivali zvali su me da me konsultuju oko izbora, želi su da čuju nešto o tom regionu, proizvodjaču, godini proizvodnje. Kad su završili večeru bili su jako srećni ne samo zato što su pili dobro vino i potrošili dosta novca, koga očigledno, imaju nego i zbog novog iskustva i znanja!’

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Dusan Vranic: predah od posla uz reku 

To što radi sa ljudima za Dušana je najveća satisfakcija, ali tu treba biti diplomata. – Desi se da nas gosti ponekad pitaju nešto što ne znamop. Tada je važno biti dplomata I izvući se pametno. To se takodje trenira na testovima. Tamo ponkead kreiraju situacije koje vam odvlače pažnju I koncentraciju (neko, na primer, lupi vratima ili vikne baš u trenutku kada pokušate da se koncentrišete i odgovorite na neko pitanje), ali je uvek važno ostati pribran I smiren. Sve su to prirodne prepreke.

Svima onima koji bi želieli da se bave ovim poslom Dušan preporučuje da što vise putuju i idu na različite festival hrane I vina.

“Ne samo da će tako naučiti mnogo o vinima, već će se upoznati sa drugim somelijerima i proizvodjačima vina. Takodje, preporučio bi him da u restoranima probaju što vise različitih vina, da budu avanturisti, da posećuju i upoznaju što vise vinskih predela, jer će tako saznati ne samo o vinima, vec i o kulturi naroda, načinu na koji jedu, piju vina. To znanje o vinima uvek ostaje deo kulture, bez obzira da li će se neko baviti time profeisonalno ili ne. Takodje, kad god se nadjete u društvu sa ljudima različitih zanimanja uvek će se naći barem dve osobe koje dele istu strast prema vinima kao i vi. Uverio sam se da što vise znate to je bolje – jer ništa ne spaja ljude kao dobro vino!”

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Kao veliki sportista ucestvovao je u njujorskom maratonu

Posle ‘Standard Grilla’ Dusan Vranic je radio u prelepom ‘Clocktower’ restoranu Steve Starr pre nego sto je poceo da radi kao vinski direktor u ‘Riverparku’ koji pripada Tomm Collichio grupi.

Milica Puric

8 thoughts on “Dusan Vranic, sommelier: ‘A magic land of wine’

  1. Mike

    Excellent story. I’ve been enjoying reading, especially because I didn’t know anything about sommelier profession, although I love wine very much!

    Reply
  2. Laura

    “Every time you are with other people of different occupations there will be at least two persons who will share the same passion for the wines as you do. The more you know the better for you because nothing brings people together like a good wine!”
    That is the best part of being sommelier. You meet interesting people, talk to them, you have nice, easy conversation… Nice job, nice story…

    Reply
  3. Anonymus

    I didn’t know the name of this profession and I didn’t know that being sommelier is so incredibly awesome…

    Reply
  4. Anonymous

    I would like to meet the guy and listen to his stories about wine. it seems he has a lot of interesting things to say and share!!!

    Reply

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