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Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon

  • Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca, 88, Lisbon 1099-039, Portugal
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Gabriela Marques

Sommelier, Varanda
“For many gourmands, discovering how a proper wine pairing can enhance and improve the flavour of their food is like introducing them to a whole new world.”

 

Four Seasons Tenure

  • Since 2016
  • First Four Seasons Assignment: Current

Employment History

  • Penha Longa – A Ritz-Carlton Hotel; LAB by Sergi Arola; Altis Belem Hotel & Spa; Corinthia Hotel Lisbon

Birthplace

  • Lisbon, Portugal

Education

  • WSET Level 2- Award in Wine and Spirits; Sommelier training at Escola de Hotelaria e Turismo de Lisboa; Restaurant and Bar Continuous Training Program at Escola de Hotelaria e Turismo de Lisboa; Cooking and Wine Service Course at Escola de Formação Profissional para o Sector Alimentar da Pontinha

Languages Spoken

  • Portuguese, English, French and Spanish

Lisbon born and raised, Gabriela Marques’s future was sealed the moment she came across a magazine article about a female Portuguese sommelier. Reading about the gastronomic studies involved, the art and science of wine tasting, and the intricacies of pairing wine with food ignited a fire within her that has continued to burn to ever-increasing heights.

Her natural abilities during her first tasting session at hospitality school caught the personal attention of the President of Portugal’s Sommelier Association. And even before she had embarked on her own official training, she was already passionately involved in the profession, getting deeper into the tastings circuit and self-studying into the early hours.

As a female sommelier in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Gabriela views every day as an opportunity to challenge herself to become even better. Her career has taken her to leading dining venues such as Restaurant Feitoria and Lab by Sergi Arola – experiences that have enabled her to absorb vast experience from some of the Lisbon’s leading wine gurus.

Gabriela, however, remains clear about her own place in the industry. “I don’t want to be seen as a female sommelier, just a sommelier,” she explains matter-of-factly. “Being a woman in this industry just makes me even more determined to succeed. I am as positive as I am stubborn, which helps, but above all I think I bring a sense of intuition, subtly and taste to the role that makes it easier to connect with people and the wines I am studying.”

And when Gabriela says studying, she doesn’t just mean the constant courses she puts herself through, but a life spent immersed in the wine world. Each day starts with coffee while reading wine blogs and magazines. “To me, it’s like reading the morning newspapers with breakfast,” she explains. She also contributes to many technical blogs and publications and loves doing recreational wine reviews outside of work. Even her holidays revolve around wine, from vineyard visits to coinciding a UK vacation with the London Wine Fair.

At Varanda, Gabriela aims to continue the legacy of Licínio Carnaz to honour the restaurant’s longstanding reputation, both in terms of gastronomy and its wine cellar. She sees each recommendation as a collaboration between herself, Executive Chef Pascal Meynard, and the individual in question, analysing everything from their meal selection to state of mind.

Her favourite part of the role, however, is the pride that comes when people allow her to show them wines beyond their favourites. “It is so rewarding, especially when they realise how a proper pairing can enhance and improve the flavour of their food,” she concludes. “For many gourmands, it’s like introducing them to a whole new world.”