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Hanneke Verstappen-Jacobs is sommelier at restaurant De Beejekurf in Venray, the Netherlands. The restaurant was opened in 2013 by talented top chef Mathijs Jacobs, Hanneke’s partner. A year later, Hanneke joined the restaurant as hostess and sommelier, perfectly complementing the team. In the kitchen, Matthijs enjoys working with locally sourced ingredients to create delicious dishes. To pair each dish, Hanneke’s wine list has a beautiful wine for everyone. We asked her some questions about her career path, favourite wines, and much more.
Hanneke, can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I have a background that has nothing to do with hospitality. I worked for a long time in child and adolescent psychiatry as a sociotherapist. Just before I started working at De Beejekurf I worked as a behavioral coach with at-risk youth.
There are many different ways to become a sommelier, what type of educational path did you take?
I only recently started calling myself a sommelier, after I passed the WSET3 exam. As a result, I now have a thorough and skilled knowledge. Before that, I knew everything about the wines I had in the house, but I did feel it was time to dive into this subject more deeply. Since this training, I dare to say that my knowledge and skills as a sommelier are good.
What characterizes a good sommelier?
I think a good sommelier is someone who moves along with the wishes of the guest, but still stands for their own philosophy. And to include this philosophy in the experience of the guests. To not just want to inform them, but to really start the conversation.
I like to surprise guests with a bottle of wine instead of a wine arrangement.
What are your personal rules for food and wine pairing?
The rule is that I have to try every wine myself, and so does the chef. There is no wine in the house that I do not support and that I have not tasted myself. I also like to surprise guests with a bottle of wine instead of a wine arrangement. Several guests do not dare to choose a bottle. Afraid of making the wrong choice, afraid of missing out. It’s very nice to make a great choice together that makes everyone happy.
What are some of the most special wines you have?
Special to me can be very broad. At the moment, I have a delicious Viognier at home from Germany. It’s a beautiful wine with a wonderful story and fantastic gas. But still affordable. I really try to look for nice wines for a doable price. And to especially surprise the wine lovers who are into big labels.
What are the qualities to look for when purchasing wine?
Above all, the quality must be steady. I get very nervous when I have found a fine wine that is suddenly not okay within the next delivery.
What is the best wine you have tasted and what made it so great?
I am still so surprised by wines every time I discover new ones and almost I feel I am too inexperienced to answer this. I think the producer and the ambiance really make the wine.
What's one thing in the area that guests have to see or do?
Guests should really take a walk through the Odapark with the museum and enjoy a breath of fresh air at the Annapark. These are two historic places in Venray where it is wonderful to walk. In addition to this, the war museum in Overloon and the German cemetery in Ysselsteyn are also very worthwhile and impressive.
Thank you, Hanneke.
Book your table at restaurant De Beejekurf
Are you ready for an amazing food-wine pairing at restaurant De Beejekurf in Venray? Have an amazing culinary experience with the help of chef Matthijs and sommelier Hanneke – make your dinner reservation through our website.