Get to Know London's Best Wine Buyers

Discover London's Best Wine Buyers, from Salvatore Castano's ASI Best Sommelier accolade to Elena Serban's mastery at Zuma Restaurants. Explore their expertise shaping the city's vibrant wine scene.

We live in a world where every bottle tells a unique story, and the ones weaving these tales are none other than our friendly neighborhood Wine Buyers. Whether they're creating magic for popular restaurants, retail shops, or as sharing their expertise as judges at the London Wine Competitions, these experts are the heartbeat of the wine scene.

Being a wine buyer isn't just about knowing your Merlot from your Malbec; it's a dance of flavors, a symphony of trends, and a negotiation game that spans the globe. Imagine a role that's all about blending the art of conversation with the finesse of sales, where the aim is not just to pick wines but to craft an experience that's as unique as your taste buds—that is what wine buyers are all about.

In our newest blog post, 'Get to Know London’s Best Wine Buyers,' we're rolling out the red (or should we say, wine-stained) carpet to acquaint you with the true maestros steering the ship behind the bottles.

Salvatore Castano, On Trade Advisor & Assistant Wine Buyer at Friarwood Fine Wine

Image Source: Salvatore Castano

Salvatore Castano, an Advanced Sommelier accredited by the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas, recently clinched the prestigious title of ASI Best Sommelier Europe & Africa, triumphing over a group of exceptionally talented sommeliers. His accolades include being recognized as the 2nd Best Italian Sommelier (ASPO) in 2019, achieving the 2nd Best Young Sommelier UK by Chaîne des Rôtisseurs in 2019, and securing the 3rd Best Italian Sommelier (ASPI) in 2018.

With an extensive professional background, Salvatore has garnered rich experience in renowned London establishments such as MASH Steak London, Comptoir Cafè & Wine, and Annabel’s. Currently serving as the On Trade Advisor and assistant Wine Buyer at Friarwood Fine Wine, Salvatore brings his wealth of expertise to this role. Additionally, he is set to contribute to the judging panel of the London Wine Competition in 2023.

Eugenio Egorov, Head Sommelier and Wine Buyer at The Stafford London

Image Source: Eugenio Egorov

With an extensive 17-year tenure in the hospitality industry, Eugenio Egorov found his true passion in the captivating realm of sommelier work. His journey commenced in the kitchen immediately after completing Hospitality School, but it was almost 11 years ago that he transitioned to the front of the house, taking his initial steps into the intricate world of wines. Over the years, Eugenio sought out new challenges, venturing first to the US and then crisscrossing Europe, always driven by the opportunity to collaborate with and learn from the best professionals in the field.

Loris Propedo, Wine Buyer at Mondial Wine Ltd.

Image Source: Loris Propedo

Loris Propedo is a Wine Buyer at Mondial Wine Ltd. With a delightful career spanning over 15 years in the hospitality industry, Loris started as a Bartender and Sommelier at esteemed hotels and restaurants in Italy and Germany. In 2003, he brought his expertise to London, where he continued to flourish.

Loris is a certified wine expert. He studied at the WSET and Court of Sommelier, and he's also a proud member and teacher at the UK Sommelier Association. His passion for sensorial analysis extends beyond just wine; he holds qualifications as an olive oil, balsamic vinegar, coffee, tea, mineral water, Sake, Armagnac, beer, and honey taster. Impressive, right?

These incredible skills of Loris were put to good use as he conducted staff training at Locanda Locatelli restaurant, where he served as the Head Sommelier and Wine Buyer until 2016. Since August 2016, he has been an integral part of Mondial Wine Ltd, taking on the role of Development Manager and Wine Buyer.

Mondial Wine Ltd is fortunate to have Loris on board, as he specializes in curating a selection of high-quality wines and spirits from Italy. His keen attention to indigenous grape varieties makes Mondial Wine Ltd stand out in delivering exceptional choices for every palate. 

Beans Boughton MW, Master of Wine and Buyer at Alliance Wine

Image Source: Beans Boughton

Beans Boughton brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the world of wine, with a career spanning over 19 years. As an Independent Consultant with BeansMeansWines Ltd., Beans demonstrated a keen insight into the industry. His role as Senior Fine Wine Category Manager at Maritime and Mercantile International showcased his prowess in managing high-quality wine selections.

In the capacity of Purchasing Manager at Amathus Drinks PLC, Beans further honed his skills, contributing to the strategic procurement of beverages. His versatility is evident in his role as a Buyer (Wines and Spirits) and Senior Manager at Planet Of The Grapes, where he played a pivotal role in wine sales for the city.

Beans's expertise extends beyond his corporate roles, as he holds the prestigious title of Master of Wine, a testament to his deep understanding and knowledge of the world of wine. His role as a Judge at the London Wine Competition underlines his commitment to evaluating and recognizing excellence in the industry. Currently serving as a Buyer at Alliance Wine, Beans continues to shape the landscape of the wine market with his seasoned judgment and extensive experience.

Ramiro Fernandez, the Head Sommelier and wine Buyer at Galvin La Chapelle

Image Source: Ramiro Fernandez

Ramiro Fernandez, the Head Sommelier & Wine Buyer offers valuable insights into the criteria for selecting new wines. Originally from Galicia in the North-West of Spain, Ramiro ventured to London in 2005 initially for a brief English language immersion. Armed with a degree in Political Science and previous experience in a council job, he transitioned into the wine industry after a stint as a Commis Sommelier at the Ritz Hotel. Having worked with renowned chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Jason Atherton, and Daniel Clifford, Ramiro's career has been marked by excellence. Currently serving as a Senior Sommelier and wine Buyer at Kai Mayfair, he also provides consultancy for Spanish wineries.

You may also want to check out this exclusive interview where Ramiro sheds light on the significance of wine competitions for consumers, the benefits of winning medals for wineries, and offers tips on leveraging professional tasting notes received from judges.

Tim Handley, Wine Buyer at 67 Pall Mall

Image Source: Tim Handley

Tim Handley, currently navigating the intricate world of wines as the discerning Wine Buyer at the prestigious 67 Pall Mall. Tim's professional odyssey began as a Cellar Development Manager, where he fine-tuned his expertise in the delicate art of wine sales. Prior to his current role, he played a pivotal role as the Head Sommelier at Behind Restaurant in London, marking his presence as a key member of the opening team.

During his tenure as the Head Sommelier, Tim's fingerprints were all over the establishment's success. His keen eye for detail and nuanced understanding of wines manifested in the creation and meticulous maintenance of an exquisite wine list. Tim not only curated an exceptional selection but also orchestrated seamless services that left an indelible mark on Behind Restaurant's patrons.

One remarkable feather in Tim's cap is his contribution to the establishment's achievement of the fastest Michelin Star ever awarded to a restaurant. His dedication and passion for the world of fine wines not only shaped his professional journey but also left an enduring legacy in the establishments he graced with his expertise.

Tim Handley, with his rich background and unwavering commitment to the craft, continues to be a prominent figure in the dynamic realm of wines, adding depth and flavor to every aspect of his career.

Bryan Rodriguez, Junior Wine & Spirit Buyer at Harvey Nichols

Image Source: Bryan Rodriguez

Bryan's world revolves around his passion for all things culinary and libations, currently steering the ship as a wine, spirit, and cigar buyer for the opulent Harvey Nichols. In this role, he lends his expertise to both the retail and hospitality facets of the business, ensuring a seamless blend of luxury and indulgence.

Bryan's culinary journey kicked off in some of London's culinary gems, including The Ivy (West Street), Petrus, Maze, and 34, where he honed his skills as a chef. It was during this gastronomic expedition that he found a deep affection for the world of wine. Fueling this newfound love, he embarked on private study with the WSET, a journey that paved the way for his transition into the wine retail trade in 2013.

Not one to look back, Bryan has since achieved milestones such as holding the WSET Diploma and the WEST Sake Level 3 Award. His discerning palate and industry knowledge have led him to judge in prestigious competitions like The IWSC, ISC, Spirits Business, and the World Drink Awards.

With a blend of culinary roots and a passion for the finer things in life, Bryan continues to infuse his love for food and drink into the world of luxury retail, making Harvey Nichols an exquisite destination for enthusiasts seeking the perfect blend of taste and sophistication.

Elena Serban, Head Sommelier and Buyer at Zuma Restaurants

Image Source: Elena Serban

Elena Serban, the leader behind the wine experiences at Zuma Restaurants in London, currently holds the esteemed titles of Head Sommelier and Buyer. Before curating the perfect wine list for Zuma, Elena showcased her expertise as the Head Wine Sommelier and Buyer at both Haycock Manor Hotel and Heritage.

Prior to her current role, Elena made her mark as a senior sommelier with the Hakkasan Group, contributing her refined palate and industry insight to Hakkasan Mayfair. Not just confined to the world of wines, Elena's journey includes a stint as a Food and Beverage Supervisor, where she added another layer to her understanding of the hospitality landscape.

Elena's story is one of dedication, passion, and a deep connection to the art of pairing. With each role, she has elevated the dining experience, leaving an indelible mark on every establishment she has graced.

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