SUMITA SARMA (SUMI)
FOUNDER & LEAD WRITER, SUMILIER®
Sumi is an experienced and enthusiastic wine professional with technical tasting expertise and strengths in communications, marketing, content creation and promotion. She is a certified Level 4, Diploma holder from Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET), the globally accredited institution which provides rigorous and systematic training for wine and spirit professionals. She also has a Level 1 in Sake from WSET.
To gain deeper insight into wine production, Sumi travelled extensively meeting and working with dynamic vineyard managers, innovative wine makers and talented distillers from around the globe, helping out in vintage harvests and as a cellar hand for award winning wineries. Her experience in retail and as a sommelier across Asia and in the UK has helped her understand the dynamics of the service side of the industry, one that involves high degree of meticulous and steadfast approach, working under time deadlines. Currently, pursuing the Master of Wine, in Stage 2, she continues her passion for learning while imparting knowledge and expertise on wines through various forums both online and face to face. Her wine portfolio involves Wine and Spirits judging, writing assignments, tutored tastings, wine education, radio production and podcast hosting. In the area of wine communications, she has created bespoke programs to successfully reach out to a wide consumer base, experienced as well as novice sippers, through small group wine tasting sessions as well as through wider platforms such as Masterclasses, Live Instagram Shows and YouTube videos. She has partnered with Elizabeth Gabay MW, to co-host a Rosé wine project called I love Rock ‘n’ Rosé, a live talk show unravelling the secrets of rosé wines from around the world.
Sumi is also one of the few women Wine Judges of Indian origin, working in International Wine Competition circuit. She is the Treasurer on the Board of Circle of Wine Writers, a highly respected international association consisting of leading wine critics, award winning authors, internationally acclaimed journalists, celebrated broadcasters and well known wine educators.
Her vivacious and affable style of presentation makes wine events convivial, fun while also being educative. In the past, she has been a radio presenter and co-producer for a weekly wine talk show for South Waves Radio, a former speech drama and arts station in England called ‘Sumilier Wine Show’, now available to hear and download as Wine Podcasts.
An award-winning Chartered accountant and a high honours Management degree holder in international Human Resources, Sumi worked in the Banking Industry across Asia and Europe for 13 years, initially covering Corporate Finance in Standard Chartered Bank and later moving into talent recruitment, staffing and training all part of Human Resources for Investment Banking. Underlying all through, was her latent fascination for wines. A stint working in Asia brought alive that wine passion and from then on there was no looking back.
Since 2010, she took on extensive world-wide travels, plunging in deep to learn from established producers to hone her wine skills, while at the same time taking up the formal route of studying wines. Through her tenacious approach, she has proved that it is possible to break away from gender and racial stereotypes. ‘Sumilier’ was born out in 2015 of this concept to share her unrelenting wine passion. She strongly supports and inspires women to follow their heart through her featured ‘Women in Wine’ series in Sumilier, which celebrates achievements of women.
Sumi is one of the first few women of Indian origin who made the bold move to change careers at the peak of her career in Banking but the new journey into wines was not without challenges. Moving away from an established and rewarding career, she applied at many places to get an intern or an assistant role in wines. Not having a mentor to guide her or any connections in the wine trade, she struggled to find her feet. But this did not deter her in the quest to find a place for herself. She took up any wine related roles that came her way, be it viticulture – long hours of harvests and pruning in freezing temperatures or winemaking in cold cellars, sommelier, retail and sales; all while studying for her wine exams and juggling with a busy family of young children. Very few paid jobs were offered to her but she made sure she took away a lot from every role and this has helped her build a strong foundation in the industry, which is what she offers today as a consultant.
Her journey was not just physically demanding but also required her to overcome cultural, racial, gender and social barriers and make numerous personal sacrifices. Women in India during her time of growing up, were not known to work in alcohol and related industry due to the numerous social and religious taboos associated with it. Whether it was gaining respect as a wine professional from her own country, the struggles of making a mid-career switch from Banking into wines…. to being a woman and more significantly “a woman of colour” in the international scene, she has endured multiple obstacles at every stage. What was in her was the relentless passion for wines and her determination to represent and contribute to the industry. Today she is an active spokesperson for the hospitality industry, supporting the movement for Vinclusive campaign and BAME in hospitality. You can watch her in the Panel for “The Colour of Wine Episode 1” where she brings out her journey, her struggles and rewards in the Wine trade, along with other wine professionals.
Currently living in Surrey, England and spending time between Asia and London, while she deeply supports Indian and English wines, she also has a soft corner for producers around the world who are committed towards quality and sustainability, in their persistent efforts to revive indigenous grapes or experiment with newer styles of wines. Sumilier Posts are greatly beneficial for wine lovers both educated as well as novices with interesting features, updates, news and tastings from diverse, beautiful regions of the world, places you would not have even thought of.
The Colour of Wine Episode
Spicy Food and Wine Pairings
Active Women interview:
Active women by Dr Julian McGrattan
What we should tell our sons
Glass of Bubbly:
Launch of Champagne Castelnau Hors Category
From taboos to tannins and tastings : Breaking stereotypes
Why aren’t all wines vegan?