Q+A with Tennis Superstar Roger Federer

Swiss professional tennis player; Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) 17-Time Grand Slam Winner
Photo by Giam Paolo Sgura

When did you start getting interested in wine in a more serious way?

I’ve always appreciated good wine and good food, shared in good company—for example, with my family and friends. I love going out to restaurants when I travel around the world for tennis or spending time with everyone at home. I also seek out opportunities to learn more, because I think that great wine is one of life’s pleasures. I’m honored to be Moët & Chandon’s brand ambassador, and I have visited [its] estate in Epernay, France. It was a magical experience. The most amazing moment was seeing the cellars, an underground labyrinth where the Champagne develops. I spent time with Benoît Gouez, the chef de cave, and he explained Moët & Chandon’s winemaking and maturation process. And, of course, we tasted the legendary Champagnes together.

Was wine appreciation a part of your upbringing?

My parents always enjoyed drinking wine during dinner. I always remember how excited my father became when we were visiting my mother’s family in South Africa, as there are such amazing wines there.

If you could share a glass of wine with any three people in the world, alive or from the past, who would it be?

Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela and Bjorn Borg.

“I look forward after my career to opening a few of these bottles with my team and celebrating great memories.”

Your career involves global travel. Do you have any favorite destinations from a wine-and-food perspective?

There are many. Paris is one of my favorite cities, and, of course, the food and wine is always excellent. I also love Rome for the Italian food. New York is fantastic because of the energy: shopping, theatre, restaurants, art. Australia is always a favorite for us, as we love the creativity with their food and the incredible Australian wines. In Dubai, I also like several of the restaurants, as many of the world’s top chefs have opened restaurants—so you sort of get the best of the best all in one place.

What’s your favorite dish to make at home, and what do you like to pair with it?

Unfortunately, I am not a very good cook. But, of course, I like Swiss food such as raclette and fondue. We try many different wines, but we like to enjoy a white wine such as Cloudy Bay, and on special occasions, we will open a red from Château Cheval Blanc.

Talk to me about your Champagne collection.

In my role as Moët & Chandon brand ambassador, I’m quite lucky to have some of [its] legendary Champagnes in my collection. A current favorite is Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2006. Not only is it a delicious wine, but drinking it also evokes many emotions for me, because 2006 was one of my most successful years in tennis. I reached all four Grand Slam finals, winning three of them. I love Champagnes that tell stories, and this Champagne is the essence of a single year. A bottle of Grand Vintage is like a trophy for a season well done, and that’s something that I can certainly appreciate. I look forward after my career to opening a few of these bottles with my team and celebrating great memories.

What styles of wine are you excited about right now?

I am always interested in trying new and innovative styles. For example, recently I was excited to try the new MCIII by Moët & Chandon. It blends multiple Grand Vintage Champagnes that have been matured in three different universes: metal, wood and glass. It’s one of the most luxurious wine experiences I’ve ever had.

What is your most memorable wine and food dining experience?

One of my most memorable food and wine experiences was in 2014 at LE &, a culinary concept presented by Moët & Chandon and 3-time Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno. I was present for its opening in Epernay, and the event brought everyone together through vintage Champagne and visionary gastronomy, the talent of Yannick Alléno and Moët & Chandon. It was full of fascinating and delicious food and wine pairings. For example, I didn’t know that Champagne contains four of the five taste sensations—only salt is missing. So the 7 Salt Bar was one of the experiences at LE &. Moët Impérial was paired with different kinds of salt flavors for a complete sensation.

If you had to equate a bottle of wine with a really great game of tennis, what would it be? Write the tasting note or give us a few notes on aromas and flavor.

Playing in a really great tennis match can be like tasting a well matured, vintage wine. Its flavors are familiar and inviting, but there is an incomparable note of energy and discovery. The wine evokes the past, but lives fully in the now. With each sip, each moment, it develops and evolves. The wine’s different notes play together in harmony, moving towards a successful finish.

Published on March 23, 2016
Topics: Sports + Wine, Wine Enthusiast Q+A
About the Author
Susan Kostrzewa
Executive Editor

Reviews wines from Greece and Cyprus.

Executive Editor Susan Kostrzewa joined Wine Enthusiast in 2006, when she moved from Sonoma, California, to Manhattan. Kostrzewa has written and edited wine, food and travel stories for the past 14 years, and oversees all editorial direction of Wine Enthusiast Magazine and WineMag.com, in addition to the tasting programs. Kostrzewa co-edited the Wine Enthusiast Wine & Food Pairings book and has co-authored numerous books on wine and travel in her career. Email: skostrze@wineenthusiast.net

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