Parag Lalit, Sommelier

Born and raised in Delhi, India until age 15, Parag Lalit possesses a formidable collection of international experience. Even now he retains dual citizenship in both France and Canada. Prior to working at Sixteen, he consulted on a wine retail project for Bacchus Fine Wines & Spirits in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; was the assistant sommelier at Skin and Bones in Toronto; and held a position as an assistant sommelier at Restaurant Le Local in Montreal. He has held many roles in his career, which he finds to be essential in meeting the needs of a very diverse clientele in a hotel and restaurant environment. Beyond even those experiences, Lalit has also held positions as chef de rang, maître d’hotel and food and beverage manager at luxury outlets worldwide.

With a good understanding of the culinary scenes in both the east and the west, he uses his knowledge and experience in cultural tastes when selecting the wines for his lists and pairings. Lalit appreciates classical cuisine, and is passionate about creating a harmony of flavors with his wine choices in that same style. For him, wine is unique because it produces a sense of place in a way that few other products can. “Wine is bottled geography and history,” he says, and he pays special attention to the “classic,” regions and producers for that same reason.

When it comes to his philosophy on serving wine, Lalit pays close attention to the environments and winemakers that have stood the test of time and produced historically consistent products. The mood of the guests has an impact on his recommendations as well– whether enjoying a business meeting, a date, or a group meal –Parag believes that to share in those moments is a privilege for him and in his mind, one that must be carried out with sincerity.

Choosing the hospitality industry as a career path was no coincidence for Lalit. From a young age, he was always curious to meet new people and learn new languages. For him, the industry facilitated that desire and offered the possibility to visit new and different countries and wine regions. He began his culinary journey in France, and has travelled to more than one dozen countries and lived in five.

When it comes to career inspiration, Lalit looks to Rajat Parr, who came from very humble beginnings in Calcutta, India and has produced fine wine in California and Burgundy. He also admires wine personality Gary Vaynerchuck who has democratized wine knowledge through his online channel Wine Library TV.

Currently, Lalit is pursuing his Master Sommelier certification. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, taking long bike rides and exploring different areas of the world.