Gabriela Ospina, Florida's Best Sommelier: “Wine is for drinking, not for studying”

Alessandra Meldolesi
copertina gabriela ospina 2

Recently crowned by Michelin as the best sommelier in Florida, Gabriela Ospina from Boia De restaurant uses the occasion to send an unconventional message to all wine lovers. Her first rule is to be friendly, shunning any sense of esotericism.

All article's photos by Boia De

Cover photo by Gabriela Ospina

The sommelier

Such pompousness. In the world of wine, it's known that some people get it, and others don't. Before you earn the hard-fought right to speak your mind, you have to swirl countless glasses and sharpen your nose. But Gabriela Ospina, who was just named the best sommelier in Florida by Michelin (and interviewed here), isn't having it. For her, in the magical world of wine, there are no inflexible rules, no strict tasting protocols, no right or wrong ways to drink.

boia de bottiglie

"At the end of the day, wine is meant to be drunk, not studied," she downplays. "There's no moral value in sulfites. There's nothing intrinsically right or wrong about volatile acidity. I have fond memories of double-liter bottles of Walgreens pinot grigio because of the people I drank them with. DRC bottles are priced in six figures and are made biodynamically. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

boia de bicchieri

For Gabriela, becoming a sommelier wasn't a lightning bolt moment; wine was at the outer edge of her focus as she worked in various roles at the places where she started her career. "But when the quarantine ended, years passed without me even realizing it. Once the dust settled, I finally had the chance to ask myself where I wanted to invest my time. This industry is often romanticized, but it's the humanity behind it that kept me coming back every day: the stories I was telling, the relationships I was forming, the small community I found myself a part of. Wine was the thread that held it all together."

boia de locale 1 1

In the beginning, she recounts, her approach was more academic, but she gradually loosened up. "Now it all seems much less serious. I seek out what I love," she says succinctly. Specifically, she's focusing on the palhete and ramato styles—gray-skinned grapes macerated on their skins, whites and reds fermented together—to explore the boundary between orange, rosé, and light red wines.

boia de locale 1

When it comes to pairings, her "acidic mind" takes over: with ceviche, a white wine from the Mediterranean shores, made from high-altitude grapes; with spicy chicken wings, an Italian pink fizz. And regarding the wine list at her Michelin-starred Boia De in Miami, the condition is to be "friendly": "With every new addition, I aim to do justice to the efforts of my chefs and do everything I can to ensure that guests have the best experience. Never say never, but there are certain boxes I like to check: purity of fruit, native grape varieties, sustainable viticulture, and non-invasive techniques. I tend to lean toward what I don't know. The more esoteric, the better."

Wine Reporter

show all

We respect your Privacy.
We use cookies to ensure you an accurate experience and in line with your preferences.
With your consent, we use technical and third-party cookies that allow us to process some data, such as which pages are visited on our website.
To find out more about how we use this data, read the full disclosure.
By clicking the ‘Accept’ button, you consent to the use of cookies, or configure the different types.

Configure cookies Reject