Q&A With Sevgi Tüzel-Conghaile

Name: Sevgi Tüzel-Conghaile

Occupation & Company: Owner at A WINE IDEA

Tell me about your current role?

I’m doing a bit of everything! A WINE IDEA is a one-person show. I’m sure I have some friends and family that think all I do is sip wine all day, the reality is quite different. I started very small organising a handful of wine tastings in Galway and later on in Dublin. Slowly but surely I built my business up and developed a community of wine lovers through my wine-tasting events.

This year our company has expanded in different directions. We launched our online wine shop in October 2022 and this month we are launching our tasting room in the heart of Dublin where we will be running guided wine tastings for the general public. My day-to-day tasks would be sourcing wines, organising & running our wine-tasting events for our corporate, private clients and the general public. Making sure everyone who purchased wine from our website gets their wine on time because customer service is something I do really pay attention to. I do our design work, as well as marketing, social media, accounting and managing our website.

How did you first get into the drinks industry?

Well, I don’t have a very romantic story. My passion for wine began while I was studying Food Engineering in one of the wine-producing regions of my home country of Turkey. Following my graduation, I started to work as a winemaker and spent a few years in the production side of wine. Then I wanted to learn more scientific parts of winemaking & grape growing and obtained my MSc in Oenology & Viticulture in France and Germany. I always find having hands-on experience and a scientific background was something very important in my career.

What is your favourite part about working in the industry?

I really am a people person and my current job always requires me to interact with other people. So it’s the perfect fit!

We’re meeting up for a wee drink after work – what are you having?

My preference would change quite constantly but as we are running up to Christmas, I am having a mulled wine.

You can only have one drink for the rest of your life, what’s in your glass?

I often get the question of what’s my favourite wine. I always try not to show favouritism and often say I don’t have a favourite but I’ll be honest with you guys; it’s Riesling. I developed a real love for Riesling during the time I lived in Germany. I was lucky enough to be around the beautiful vineyards of Mosel and Rheingau. First of all, I really like aromatic varieties like Riesling but additionally, Riesling produces really versatile styles of wine. Dry styles for those who don’t like sweet wines, much sweeter styles for those who have a sweet tooth and off-dry for those who are right in the middle. It means there will be always a different style of Riesling for me for the rest of my life.

It’s Saturday night, what restaurant are you going to?

I am going to Mamma Mia in Dublin. It’s the total opposite of those restaurants that are very built to be Instagramable, have no soul and, get their buzz through PR agencies and then the food is meh. I really love this place. This is the perfect spot to get your delicious carbs and a glass of lovely wine. Some of my favourite dishes are Filetto alla Griglia, Pasta alla Carbonara and Pizza Mamma Mia. It’s a real neighbourhood restaurant and also very close to Bord Gáis in case you are going to a gig or show afterwards.

Is there a bucket list drink you want to try, or a dream drinks destination you’d love to visit?

I would love to visit Duoro in Portugal, get to see how Port wine is made and see the grapes crushed by foot treading. Hoping to visit next harvest season. Another place on my bucket list is Georgia. I am really excited to see the wine made in Qvevri which are clay pots often buried underground.

The most memorable experience of your career?

The moment that I got my licence to sell wine. It was a really long journey for me – only took over two years to figure it out (!). The law in Ireland for liquor licences is incredibly outdated. It’s apparently from the 18th century, written in a language that requires a degree in linguistics to understand it. In the end, my hard work paid off and that’s all that matters.

One thing you’d like to see more of in the drinks industry?

I am really hoping to see companies in the hospitality and drinks industry invest in their staff with more training. I think this is one way to help retain staff and will only benefit to customer experience.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a career in the industry?

My advice will be from the perspective of someone who started a company from nothing. The most important piece of advice would be to be patient. Being humble and always educating yourself is very important. In reality, there will never be a moment you know everything because there is always something new to learn. I believe that the key quality to creating long-term relations is to be nice and kind one to another. Life is too short to work in a bitter environment and drink bad wine.

You can follow Sevgi’s wine journey at the links below.