Top tips from ICC Sydney’s Beverage Master

A renowned sommelier whose expertise adds flair to every event he works on, ICC Sydney’s Beverage Operations and Cellar Manager William Wilson knows more than a thing or two about beverages. Through his wealth of knowledge, industry connections and extensive experience, William provides unmatched beverage services for client events. From pairing wines to a custom menu or showcasing perfect alcohol-free options, his recommendations are all underpinned with the purpose of enriching delegate experiences.
 
Here William shares his top tips for the perfect food and beverage pairing:
 
Don’t overpower the food
Food and beverages should work together, not battle each other for the spotlight. Australia produces some wonderful full bodied reds that can be a bit too much for many dishes. For an alternative option, try a lighter red such as cool climate Pinot Noir from Orange or Tumbarumba, or delicious medium bodied Shiraz from the Hunter Valley.
 
Some of our best wines are exceptionally good value
My Scottish blood likes great value so when I eat out I scan the wine list for Riesling and Semillon. Both of these grapes make fantastic food wines with mouth-watering citrus flavours and lingering complexity. Aged Release Semillon from the Hunter Valley is simply superb and should feature on many more wine lists - we have a wide selection on ICC Sydney’s wine collection.
 
Try something different
There is no reason for every course to be matched with a wine. Australia has some amazing brewers and beers that will suit any menu item. I’m a huge fan of the wild ales coming from Marrickville’s Wildflower Brewing and Blending, some of the most well balanced drinks that you will find. Cider is another great alternative; try some of the award winning drops from Small Acres in Orange.
 
Great drinks don’t need alcohol
It’s great to see well-made alternatives to alcoholic beverages and my team can deliver some fantastic alcohol-free cocktails made with local ingredients. Lyre’s range of alcohol-free spirits makes it easy to produce spritz style cocktails that can be served at lunchtime without sending delegates to sleep in the afternoon. One of my favourite trends at the moment is kombucha, its perfect balance of sweet and sour flavours make it a great accompaniment to a meal.
 
About William
Highly respected in the industry, William was one of the first individuals in Australia to be certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers. A creative and innovative specialist in his field, he is renowned for the knowledge and skills that he brings to events at ICC Sydney. With over 30 years of experience and having worked at top calibre venues across the USA, UK and Australia, his background provides clients with a truly world class experience that places the venue in a global league of its own when it comes to beverage services.
 
At the very heart of William’s expertise and service is his passion for providing a perfect balance when matching beverages to menu items. He takes a collaborative approach to food and wine pairing, working closely with the culinary team to ensure that each curated menu meets event requirements while also taking much of the workload away from clients to provide a seamless process. It is this fine-tuned pairing that results in a sense of harmony between the dish and the beverage’s characteristics. From matching craft beers to a five-course menu to selecting locally-made kombucha for the perfect dessert accompaniment, he can add a unique element to any event.
 
William’s commitment to his craft and a love affair with home grown produce means he plays a key role in driving the venue’s Feeding Your Performance philosophy, which focuses on supporting regional NSW by engaging with local farmers and producers. The venue’s 2018/19 Annual Performance Review highlights this commitment with the results showing A$12.2 million was directly spent on NSW food and beverage in the last financial year with more than 129 local suppliers a part of its supply chain.
 
He was instrumental in curating ICC Sydney’s wine list to ensure that it celebrated the very best of NSW wines. Personally hand selected and taste-tested, ICC Sydney’s wine collection has gone from strength to strength with its NSW offering increasing from 80% in 2016 to 92% this year. The aim for the venue’s 2020 wine collection is 100% NSW representation with William ensuring that every wine deserves its place on the list.  
 
William continues to his expand his knowledge, regularly visiting wine regions both locally and across the world for research purposes. He is also a founding member of the Craft Beer Industry Association, an active member of Sommeliers Australia and sits on the NSW committee of the Wine Communicators of Australia.
 
Whether it is a 2,000 person banquet dinner or a seated board meeting for 10, ICC Sydney’s William Wilson will add a wealth of knowledge to any event.