The Wine Pro who Fell for Food Tours
Last Updated September 20, 2018
Fintan Kerr was leading a wine tasting in Barcelona, pouring glasses and teaching a group how to truly discover the Spanish wines he’s so passionate about. He didn’t know one of the guests he was speaking to that night was James Blick, the founder of Devour Tours. At some point during the sips and swirls, James saw something special that might make for an amazing tour guide.
Tour guides come in all shapes and sizes, from all backgrounds. Anytime I’m approaching the start of a tour, I get excited about the person I’m about to trust with my upcoming experience. From Broadway-inspired actors to self-professed hippies, I’ve seen a good bit of diversity. While charm and personality always seem part of the package, passion and expertise can bring a whole new depth to a tour. It’s for that very reason when I asked who would be a great subject for a tour guide profile, Fintan Kerr’s name was at the top of the list.
Fintan, tell us about your background, and how you came to work at Devour Tours. Rumour around EzTix is that you’ve got a great background in the wine education business.
I do indeed! I’m a wine educator in Barcelona, having fallen in love with wine a few years ago. I’ve been working my way through the WSET School in London, finishing their Diploma this year and I intend to go on and complete the grueling Master of Wine course over the next few years. Learning about and sharing the subtle nuances, complexities and also the commercial realities of wine is my passion, so working with Devour has been wonderful on this front. I was given the responsibility to create and run the Tapas and Wine experience, which I’ve been doing for 2 ½ years now with Devour Tours. It’s a wonderful platform for me, as I get to meet people from around the world, from all different backgrounds and share not only my love of wine but also my love of Barcelona on a nightly basis.
I met Devour quite by chance as their co-founder, James Blick, attended one of the many wine tastings I organize in Barcelona. I was a little hesitant at first as I wasn’t sure what a food tour was all about, but after attending their Gracia Morning Tour as a guest, I was utterly convinced. Small groups, visiting family-run establishments and really learning and understanding a neighbourhood sold it to me. They’re intimate experiences and when you see that the restaurants, bars, and businesses we visit are genuinely glad to see us, it makes a big difference.
Tell us about the experiences you guide. What are the highlights your guests always love?
I mainly guide the Devour Tours Tapas and Wine Experience in Barcelona, visiting 3 family run businesses and eating and drinking our way around the Born neighbourhood. People sometimes ask me if I get tired running the same experience on a nightly basis but I love seeing people discovering Spanish wine properly for the first time, and there’s always something very gratifying about taking guests off the beaten path and expanding their experience of the city. I think our guests really enjoy the authenticity of the experience; I get to take them to the places where I eat and drink myself, so it’s easy to be passionate and enthusiastic about it! The quality of the food is excellent and gradually builds up to a crescendo, so no one goes home hungry at the end of the evening.
For you, what defines a great guest experience?
Well, the experience is all about the guest. Ideally, by the end of the evening, you’ll have shown your guests the city in a brand new light, through your own eyes, and given them a view that they wouldn’t have otherwise seen. If my guests wake up the next morning and see Barcelona in a whole new way, I’ve done my job properly. Better yet, it gives them the confidence to continue eating and drinking outside of the major touristic areas, so they get to explore and make their own stories! Hopefully, they’ll then take that idea with them to wherever else they may travel, and continue to be adventurous in their choices.
What are some of the guest experience challenges you’re often faced with, and how do you approach them?
With the wine experience, it’s mainly people worrying about getting something ‘wrong’ somehow. Saying the wrong thing, holding the glass in the wrong way. It’s all a bit silly, but the world of wine has this invisible barrier that’s important to break down. Wine should be fun and so my biggest challenge is putting people at ease and showing them that it’s really not that complicated to enjoy a good glass of wine. You don’t need a refined palate, or an encyclopedic knowledge to enjoy wine, you just need to be curious and pay a tiny bit of attention. It makes all the difference.
If you could have coffee with ANY experience operator in the world, who would you like to chat with and what would you want to learn?
A slightly unfair answer I’m afraid that it could only be the late Anthony Bourdain. He was a big influence in my own life and whilst not strictly a tour guide, he brought destinations to life in the most human of ways, partly through story-telling and partly through his ability to listen and immerse himself in a culture for a short period of time. That honesty and willingness to learn is something I think we could all do with a bit more of. I’d like to learn how he saw the world through food and how he would have shared that with people off-camera.
Thanks, Fintan. I can’t wait to come taste wine with you!
There is such a remarkable wealth of talent and passion in the EzTix Partner Community, so we’ll be sharing more profiles of guides in the future.
Someone on your team with the expertise that Fintan has can really elevate an experience. Who on your roster of guides brings a special ingredient that makes all the difference? What kind of expert would you like to bring on board? Tell us in the comments!
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