Ona Rombaut & Arne Braeckman
WSET Level 3 in Wines
Ona Rombaut graduated as Sommelier-Conseil at the Université du Vin in the Rhône, and has already been a member of the professional jury ‘Sélection Bordeaux’. Together with her husband Arne Braeckman, Ona openend wine bar ONA in 2015. In 2018 the couple also launched ‘œnani’, an online wine club. Ona and Arne are true entrepreneurs, have a passion for their profession, and like to transfer their wine knowledge to their staff and customers. Their team of young interested professionals has received a complete wine training; partly classroom, and partly online with guidance from Ona & Arne.
Can you give a snapshot of your current professional life?
Ona: We fill our days managing our wine bar. From accounting, to planning tastings, private events, drawing up a new wine list, training staff to stand in the bar or give wine tastings. We are also working on numerous future projects, which also takes some time. Super busy but super exciting times!
Arne: On top of the above, I am working hard to complete the WSET diploma course. The D3 exam is scheduled for mid-May 2022.
Would you tell us a bit about your background and what sparked your interest in wine?
Ona: From an early age on, I was confronted with wine. My parents drank wine with dinner, were members of a wine club, and organized wine tours. Our holidays were often dominated by this, so every summer we visited some vinyards. At a very young age, my brother and I were stimulated to smell and later taste the wine. I have always had a passion for food and drinks.
Arne: As a student, I often came into contact with wine. A few years later I met Ona, and gradually this interest became a (shared) passion. Since the start of the wine bar, I got more and more fascinated by the subject and at the moment not a day goes by that I am not busy with it. Both professionally and privately.
How has WSET training helped you and your staff?
Ona & Arne: Ona was already Conseil Sommelier when she started WSET3 course. It was a fantastic addition to her previous training. Arne started from WSET2.
WSET gives great tools to work with, and to develop your own style. You not only learn a lot about wine, you also learn to reason about wine and that’s a great added value. We now can guide our clients even better in making the right choice and we are more self-confident whilst giving our wine workshops.
In addition, almost every staff member has completed WSET2 and most of them are working on WSET3, even one colleague is studying diploma course WSET4 together with us. Every single person in the bar knows what they are doing and has a fierce passion for wine. And that’s a real USP for our wine bar.
What makes a wine great?
Ona: When it triggers all the senses, has a nice acidity and a fine tension/energy. The balance between flavours, acidity, tannins and finish has to be correct. Good wine creates unforgettable moments and brings people together.
Arne: The balance between the intensity and the palette of flavours and recognition of the origin. Sharing the right bottle with the right people is also very important.
Which wine region to visit is on top of your bucket list?
Ona: Oooh, there are so many. But on top: Loire, Bourgogne, N-Rhône, California and Rioja.
Do you have a favourite wine memory?
Ona: I don’t have a favourite, but I once drank Champagne Rubis de Noir 2006 from Leclerc-Briant together with a incredibly delicious pigeon prepared by a top chef (and best friend). That pairing was super and that evening I will always be on my mind.
Arne: The Initial Selosse Champagne I served when I asked my wife to marry me.
What is an unusual pairing that really works? Or do you have a wine-food arrangement that you always opt for?
Ona: I love a full chardonnay with a delicious home made vol-au-vent. Guilty pleasure!
Arne: Riesling with a little residual sugar (e.g. Egon Muller) with oysters au gratin.
What’s the strangest word/s you’ve used to describe the smell or taste of wine?
Ona: baby poo
Arne: tennis balls
What do you drink when no one’s watching?
Ona: Gosh, I only drink good wine or no wine. Everybody can watch 😉
Do you have a favourite wine/music pairing you want to share with us?
Ona: Champagne + “De Leven” by Joep Beving and S10
Arne: Stéphane Tissot’s Chardonnay + A tribe called quest (hiphop)
Is there one person in the industry you really admire and/or has been a role model for you?
Ona: Luc Hoornaert from Swaffou. He has an immense knowledge and he is a very inspiring person with whom we get along very well. He has opened a lot of doors for us, and has taken us to some fantastic winemakers.
Arne: Rajat Parr. He succeeds in expressing the complexity in the world of wine in simple terms and makes everything relatively comprehensible. He is also working on some fantastic projects.