An introduction to Gili Lankanfushi’s Master Sommeliers and their best kept wine secrets

Most Impressive Wine Cellars in the Maldives

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wine cellar

19 November, 2021

Whether you can list all the world’s major wines, or you’re simply someone who enjoys a glass of Malbec from time to time, the world of wine is immense, and the fundamental components that make wine “virtuous” are indefinable. It solely depends on the critic, and their palette.

However, a deeper understanding of the wine realm will ultimately help craft the way you perceive wine and to know the best bottles to stock in your cellar. To shed light and illuminate the world’s best hidden gems and little-known wine intel, we spoke with Gayan, Raman, and Rohan, Gili Lankanfushi’s award-winning Master Sommeliers.

From the regions, the sub regions, the districts, and the soils, coupled with years and years of experience, our Master Sommeliers know it all.


Gayan Sommelier

Prior to becoming an award-winning sommelier, Gayan had previously gained 14 years of experience within the hospitality industry, before working as a bartender at Gili Lankanfushi. As he was working at the bar one day, he found himself cleaning empty wine glasses and the unique aromas piqued his curiosity. Gayan noticed the differences in each scent, and from then on, his love of wine grew, and his fascinating journey begun.

After gaining several international qualifications, such as the ‘Court of Master Sommeliers Europe – Level 2 Certified Sommelier’ and taking part in wine development trainings at Chateau d’Estoublon, Provence, France, Gayan suggests that there are a few countries which have heavily underrated and lesser known wines, such as Greece, Portugal, Canada, Austria, Germany, and France. These countries boast some of the greatest ‘under-the-radar’ wine regions, that are most definitely worth exploring.

He goes onto say that Riesling, one of the best white wines hailing from Germany, has an underestimated lack of demand, and Austria, a country which also produces great wines, requires more exposure in the international market. As a sommelier Gayan strives to introduce the best Rieslings to guests at the resort, originating from the best vineyards. His preferred wine from the German Riesling regions and within Austria include:

Favourite white wines:

  • Gruner Veltliner Smaragd, Alzinger, Muhlpoint, Wachau, Austria
  • Riesling Federspiel, Pichler Ried Burgstall, Wachau, Austria
  • Morillon Zieregg, Tement , Steiermark, Grosse STK Lage, Austria
  • Weissburgunder Trocken, Dr. Bassermann-Jordan,Pfalz, Germany
  • Riesling Grand Cru, Dr. Burklin-Wolf, Gaisbohl, Pfalz

Favourite red wines:

  • Blaufrankisch, Marienthal , ET, Burgenland, Austria
  • Roesler and Blaufrankisch, Josephine, Gut Oggau, Weinland, Austria
  • Pinot Noir Trocken, Dr. Burklin-Wolf, Pfalz, Germany


Raman Sommelier

Raman has always had an interest in food and beverage and would read books from a young age to expand his knowledge in the field. However, despite several years of experience within the hospitality industry and his growing interest in wine, he rarely had a chance to ever taste one. That changed once he joined the Gili Lankanfushi team, as he finally had the chance to work with professional sommeliers and explore his interest further, which led him to become a true wine enthusiast, and the Master Sommelier he is today.

Raman thoroughly enjoys aromatic grape-based wines; however, he discusses how Indian wines are sometimes overlooked. As the country continues to experiment with different varieties and methods, winemaking in India has improved year on year, therefore Raman pays homage to his roots, and shares some of the country’s best kept wine secrets.

Favourite wines from India:

Sula Vineyards Late Harvest Chenin Blanc, Nashik, India

  • Grover Zamba, Sauvignon Blanc, Nandhi Hills, India
  • Grover Zampa Cabernet/ Shiraz, Nandhi Hills, India
  • Fratelli Vineyards, J Noon Red Blend, Maharashtra, India
  • Chandon Brut Rosé
  • Fratelli Gran Cuvee Brut


Rohan Sommelier

Rohan has been passionate about working in the hospitality industry since he was a young boy as he was surrounded by a beautiful tourist destination when growing up. After he joined a hotel, he dreamed to work abroad and finally took on a role at Gili Lankanfushi in the Maldives. He instantly knew that this was where he wanted to work, as at the resort, your colleagues become like your family. Ultimately, what felt like home to him helped cultivate his interest in wine. His personal favourite is red wine, as he appreciates the depth and the long complex finishes.

When he talks about unfamiliar wine countries, Portugal always makes it to the top of Rohan’s list. When a guest asks him to recommend a quality wine that’s good value for money, he proudly shares Gili Lankanfushi’s fantastic Portuguese wine selection, where guests can enjoy up to 30 labels (excluding port wine). Portugal is the 11th largest wine producer in the world, and most of its grape’s varietals are native to the land. Many believe that the country just offers port wine, however Rohan stresses that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Occasion and wine pairing recommendations:

The Gili Lankanfushi wine list is both exclusive and extensive, consisting of almost 500 labels, with a total capacity of 10,000 bottles. The resort represents nearly all the well-known countries and wine regions around the globe, however each wine gives each person a different pleasure. A tropical island location such as Gili, presents guests with many potential pairings and each bottle offers its own unique kind of experience.

Therefore our Master Sommeliers determine what each guest is looking for, in regards to price, atmosphere, philosophy, their mood, and of course, the occasion. With this in mind, they share some of their top tips:

  • Pool side – New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc or a lovely French Rosé from Provence
  • Special events – Krug Grande Cuveé, Ruinart de Blanc Champagne, or Albert Bichot clos des mooches
  • Romantic Nights – Dom Parignon Rosé or Billecart-Salmon Rosé Champagne
  • Hidden Gems to try – Reds including Pinotage, Stellenbosch, Kanonkop, Hawkes Bay or whites such as Benjamin Romeo ‘Predicador’ Blanco Rioja, Saint Clair Chardonnay Omaka Reserve Marlborough, Meerlust Chardonnay Stellenbosch, Gruner Veltliner Smaragd, Leo Alzinger
  • Best paired with dinner – Mediterranean wine paired with the dishes from the Mediterranean Spice Souk
  • Best paired with seafood – Old Zinfandel from California paired with Maldivian Reef Fish

With a delightful wine list awaiting your arrival, make a plan to venture into our Underground Wine Cellar to explore these choices paired with flavourful dishes from our Gili Cuisine on your next visit to this idyllic island hideaway.

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About Gili Lankanfushi

Located in the North Male Atoll, Gili Lankanfushi opened in 2000 as the original over water resort Soneva Gili. In 2012 the island was acquired by HPL (Hotel Properties Limited) a Singapore based company investing in hotels, lifestyle and properties around the world. Voted number one hotel in the world by Trip Advisor in 2015, Gili Lankanfushi is an easy 20 minute speedboat transfer from Male international airport. Set in the middle of its own lagoon, guests enjoy a barefoot existence with 360 degree views of the Indian Ocean. Gili Lankanfushi’s 45 overwater villas, including the vast and secluded Private Reserve offer unrivalled privacy. The wellbeing of the planet is at the heart of the Gili Lankanfushi, with each stay contributing towards preserving the natural environment, protecting the fragile marine ecosystem and treading lightly.

Gili Lankanfushi

Gili Lankanfushi

Best Experience:   OverWater Bungalows, Honeymoon, Beaches

Gili Lankanfushi is rated by many among the best resort in the Maldives, and with good reason. This stunning, 46-villa, eco-resort is just 20 minutes by speedboat from Male airport thriving in providing truly unpretentious, relaxed luxury. Barefoot are recommended (shoes are removed as soon as you leave the airport on the boat), and each guest is surrounded by the care of a personal butler with the title "Mr. Friday". The spacious, charmingly simple water villas are built of some types of wood and are equipped with open (and on the roof!) decks with seaviews that can evoke tears of joy. On land, a beautiful island with 683 palms offers a range of activities and an excellent dining options. This rare diamond in the Maldives is more authentic than other famous brand resorts at the same price - given the regular appearance in the Gili Lankanfushi of world celebrities. But if your own pools and air conditioning in each room are your priority, you can  Read Full Review...

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