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Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon

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

Gabriela Marques

Sommelier, Cura
“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: Sommelier, Varanda at Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon

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 3 - Award in Wine and Spirits; Court of Master Sommeliers Certified; 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 that now burns brighter than ever in her role as Sommelier at Cura at Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon.

“I’m following the philosophy of sustainability of our Chef Pedro Pena Bastos,” she says, noting the wine program she has implemented at the Hotel’s signature restaurant is focused on small producers from Portugal, low-intervention wines, bio viticulture, and regional traditional grapes that represent “the best of each appellation.”

Philosophy is one thing, inspiration another, of course. The Chef’s contemporary twists on local meat and fish have led Gabriela to seek wines that enhance the gastronomic experience in keeping with seasonality, exclusivity, and a “respectful approach” to the natural biome.

Among her choice finds: Porta dos Cavaleiros Reserva Brano 1985, a white she nimbly describes as “an old-school blend from Dão with intense minerality and vibrant acidity, like time hasn’t passed through it.” She also points out Viúva Gomes Tinto 1965, produced with the local red grape Ramisco in Colares, one of the smallest and oldest appellations in Portugal. “When young, Ramisco tends to be quite tannic, acidic, and difficult to enjoy. But this older vintage is luxurious and elegant – a top world wine.”

Gabriela’s natural abilities caught the attention of the President of Portugal’s Sommelier Association during her first tasting session at hospitality school. 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.

The hard work paid off. In 2018, Revista de Vinhos honoured Gabriela as Sommelier/Wine Director of the Year while she was leading the wine program at Cura’s predecessor Varanda. The organisation also handed her its National Award for Best Wine List and Wine Service.

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 – postings that 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, subtlety 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 immersed in the wine world. She starts each day reading wine blogs and magazines over coffee. “To me, it’s like reading the morning newspapers with breakfast.” 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 a UK vacation timed with the London Wine Fair.

Her favourite part of her profession, 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.”