Master sommelier Gerard Basset on touring the world tasting wine

Globetrotter: Master sommelier Gerard Basset travels extensively as a wine taster. He picks his top recommendations.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Where do you travel?

I've been in the wine industry for almost 30 years and I've travelled all over the world to taste different blends. I go away at least once a month, but sometimes it can be once a week, and that can be anywhere from California to Australia, Bordeaux to Germany.

What do you do when you get there?

Sometimes I'll do wine presentations, particularly if I'm in China. Mostly, it's just to visit the vineyards and talk to the owners. I'm not a wine buyer - although I buy the odd bottle if I really like the wine.

The purpose of my trips is to learn and to discover new wines, and to make sure I'm on top of my game. Then I pass on my recommendations to hotels and restaurants back home.

How do you travel?

I mostly go alone, although sometimes I'll be part of a trip organised for a wine group. It's nice to meet new people and discuss ideas, although I get more work done if I'm on my own. On the journey, I'll do some work then watch a film and have a glass of wine or two. I like Burgundy and Madeira. I travel business class if it's a long flight and I have to do a presentation shortly after landing.

Favourite place?

I love California. It's very vibrant, with good restaurants and great wine. The food there is also very fresh - a tomato salad, for example, will come with five types of tomato.

Gerard Basset had an unexpected layover in Madrid (pictured)

Favourite airport?

Singapore Changi airport. It's so practical and has great bookshops. I love reading. You could almost stay at the airport, there's so much to do.

Favourite hotel?

In the UK, Raymond Blanc's hotel, Le Manoir, is my favourite because it's stunning. In Asia, I love the Shanghai Tower because it has wonderful rooms and if you stay high enough (I usually stay on the 92nd floor), you have views of the whole of Shanghai.

Worst ever travel experience?

I had just won the World Sommelier Championships in 2010, which had taken place in Chile. Flying back with my wife and son, we had to change over in Madrid and the ash cloud was descending as we landed.

Everything was shut down, and we couldn't get on the connecting flight. Fortunately, we were in a celebratory mood and we stayed for five nights and enjoyed ourselves - there was nothing else we could do.

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