Johannes Kohler - youngest sommelier in Italy

Interview: Johannes Kohler, Youngest Sommelier in Italy

The Yum List chats with Johannes Kohler, a partner in Johannesstube, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Hotel Engel, and also Italy’s youngest sommelier!

What do you do and how did you get into the industry?

Since I am part of the owner-family, I have a wide range of different duties in the hotel but my focus lies on everything that has to do with beverages. I create menus and wine-lists, negotiate with suppliers, manage the wine cellar, organise the purchase and work as sommelier in our restaurants.

What’s the best part of your job? 

I love to complement my guests dining-experience with the perfect matching of beverages. That can be wine, but also beer or different non-alcoholic beverages like rose-lemonade. I’m really not the kind of sommelier, that tells his guests what they have to drink. The most important thing for me is, that my guests experience a great time. If they like to drink a bottle of Napa-Cab with their tuna-sashimi, it is absolutely okay, if they like the combination! The greatest joy for me is to figure out beverages, which really complement a dish and add “the final touch”.

What’s your favourite place to travel? 

I love to travel and to discover new places; therefore, I do not have a favourite place to go. Last year I spent three months as a backpacker in the U.S.A., travelling through the country from New York City to San Francisco. That was an outstanding experience and I would love to repeat it!

What’s one of the craziest things you’ve seen behind the scenes?

A few years ago, I remember it as if it were yesterday, we had extremely strong snowfalls during the Christmas festivities. After three days of thunderstorms and heavy snowfalls, I think it was the 26th of December and so the hotel was fully booked, we had a sudden power-black out and the whole valley was without electricity. We tried to switch on our emergency generator but it broke under the huge workload after a few hours. The hotel has been illuminated with hundreds of candles and torches and so, although it had been a strange situation, we created an incredibly romantic atmosphere. In the evening, we had to perform a service for round about 220 guests without electricity! That was fun!

The perfect day off would be… 

Hiking in our beautiful mountains with lunch in a traditional mountain hut.

What do you do for fun?

Tasting great wines with fellow wine-lovers.

What’s your favourite food and wine pairing?

I once had a slightly smoked duck-breast with apricot-tarte and paired it with a mature “Gewürztraminer Kolbenhof 1999” from Cantina Hofstätter. That was a real treat!

What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?

In November, during the Formula One Grand Prix, our Restaurant “Johannesstube” will open a Pop-Up at the Yas Viceroy Hotel Abu Dhabi. We will present some dishes from our menu and some traditional Italian dishes like homemade pasta with white truffle from Piedmont! I really look forward to this great event!

Check out some of Johannes’ wine pairings at Johannesstube restaurant here.


  1. Indeed, he does look young and very handsome too. Smoked duck-breast with apricot-tarte, brings to mind the beef and kiwi that I had. Would love this too I’m sure.

  2. He sounds like a very nice and caring person, and I like that he doesn’t push his guests to order any specific item(s). Very nicely done.

  3. Good looking Italian who sounds like he enjoys life. I can imagine feeding 220 odd people in a hotel with a meal and no electricity !!! Have a great weekend Diane

  4. From this review of him I feel sure he will do well in his chosen profession 🙂

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