David Molina (Cornellá, 1970) is the founder and director of Outlook Wine Barcelona. His initial foray into the professional world as a personal trainer was a far cry from his current career. After specializing in Personal Training and Sports Nutrition, his life took an unexpected turn toward the restaurant and food industry, where he was presented with a new challenge that would change his life: the world of wine.
Tell us how you decided to make the leap from the world of sports to the world of wine.
My introduction to the world of wine happened by chance. Before that, I’d been leading a life focused on sports: lots of exercise, a good diet, and no alcohol. I started to make a living professionally, but for the first time, I had a feeling of professional frustration because I wasn’t feeling fulfilled.
I was very young, I hit a low point, and I gave up. I went into an emotional crisis until my mother snapped me out of it. I still remember her words: “Come on, get up. You can’t be like this. You have to do something.” Up to then, I’d just devoted myself to sports, so she recommended working as a waiter, and that’s what I did. That’s what set everything in motion, at 25 years old, discovering the extraordinary world of wine.
You spent years working in the culinary world and in different restaurants. How do you remember that first contact with the world of food and wine?
My family had previously had a restaurant for several years. My mother was a very good cook and it was our way of getting ahead. But I felt like the restaurant industry was pigeonholing me, and that ambition and curiosity typical of young people encouraged me to leave home. That’s when I started to get involved with the sports world until I ended up getting disenchanted, which led me back to the restaurant industry although at a lower level.
What was your experience with WSET like?
My life is divided into cycles, and each cycle is a different story. After giving everything up and having already devoted body and soul to the world of wine in different settings (restaurant industry, distribution, and winery management) another moment of crisis came that got worse when I lost my mother to cancer. I started questioning a lot of things and I decided to wipe the slate clean and start over again.
So, what did you do?
I disappeared and I threw myself into traveling around the USA, the UAE, Oman, and I settled in England with the aim of learning English. When I was there, I discovered the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and I had a feeling of déjà vu when I started drawing on all my previous experience. In many ways, I had to unlearn what I’d already learned, though. The learning format in Spain is based on storing information, while there, I found that I had to reason everything I was learning. I felt like I was going to find myself standing in front of a new mountain. But life is like that, and the journey is exactly where you do all the learning and growing. The truth is, that experience led me to development beyond wine at a personal and professional level that I still apply to this day.
Why did you decide to take a chance on London? Were you needing to get out of your comfort zone?
London already had a lot of appeal for me, but the decisive factor was British English. The experience was amazing. The city gives you a huge multicultural hub and incredibly wide-ranging possibilities for professional development. I could go to the most varied wine tastings four or five times a week. Globally, London is the place for training about wine.
How do you rate the two years of experience in London?
My experience in London is like essential physical training in many respects. I didn’t spend much time socializing, but instead learning, observing, and discovering. It was a period of intellectual immersion. I have to admit that the weather was just right for spending entire afternoons sitting in the window of a café reading, delving deeper into the subjects while listening to the rain fall endlessly. I miss that feeling; it makes me a little sad to recall it.
They say the WSET Diploma is the precursor to the Master of Wine. Is that the next step?
There are pros and cons, as with everything. The Master of Wine requires complete dedication and that doesn’t work with my current situation. I’m a father, I manage a business, and I always try to devote a minimum of time to myself. My work already requires continuous training, so I already live with books naturally, but taking an exam requires a sole and absolute dedication that I can’t allow myself right now. I’m not ruling it out, but I do have to put it off.
Tell us about the Outlook Wine project you share with Ferran Centelles and Antonio Palacios.
The Outlook Wine project was born a long time before starting to consolidate it. We just had our 10th anniversary this year, but the idea was born much longer ago. After coming back from London and getting the diploma with more success than I imagined, they suggested that I set myself up in Spain and deliver the training that I’d received in London. This specialization was not known or valued back then, so it was a very tough start. Ferran and Antonio have been my travel companions for many years; we’re still moving forward and focusing on rigor and seriousness so that people in the industry or wine lovers will learn about and discover the fascinating world of wine, which really changes lives, as it did with mine.
What is wine coaching?
The concept of coaching came into my life when I was working as a personal trainer. One of my tasks centered on training people. There was a significant psychological and motivational part, and I realized it could be used in teaching. I implemented the strategy personally and it worked for me. That’s how wine coaching was born, a chance to discover tools or strengths people are often unaware of.
And wine consultancy?
Wine consultancy is more about teamwork. Along with Antonio Palacios, we’ve been able to develop studies on wine and wineries and market trends using technology, microbiology, and sensory analysis. These very diverse qualities form the resources you need to be able to offer an in-depth service to wineries that may need to re-establish themselves.
What do the WSET courses and methodology consist of?
WSET training is done on a blended basis, both in person and remotely. Students receive the content when they register, so they can devote the time required in an almost self-taught way. This enables them to make the most of the face-to-face part, where queries are answered and important aspects are reinforced. There are different course levels from 1 to 4, but each step up is exponential.
Who are the courses aimed at?
Many of the students are industry professionals (sommeliers, sales reps, distributors, winery representatives, winemakers, etc.), but we’ve noticed an increase in consumers or wine lovers who come to us interested in developing their sensory impact. Once they coordinate this with the knowledge acquired, they enter a new dimension where they aim for further development.
Have you noticed that more people are interested in wine?
We definitely experienced a significant change between the first five years and the last five. The first five were more difficult, while during the last five we’ve noticed a growing need from the industry to get trained and specialized, which has led to a reinvention of the industry. As far as consumers are concerned, access to information online and via social media has improved their judgment and taught them to know how to demand, compare, and distinguish better.
What is wine for you?
I used to equate wine with alcohol. But it ended up turning into a way of life that has allowed me to make a living for 25 years, grow intellectually, and discover myself physiologically at sensory level. I’m very grateful to wine.
What is the state of health of the wine industry in Spain?
You have to know how to handle it well, but it’s in a very good state of health. The opening to the international market has skyrocketed, but today you have to keep up with the markets we export to. At a time of growth, you have to be prepared. Spain is realizing the potential we have, the importance of raising awareness, and the need to polish to generate added value that way.
What qualities should future wine professionals have?
After the huge shakeup thanks to the influence of Robert Parker, the critic at global level who was able to change winemaking trends in the benchmark wine regions (Bordeaux and Burgundy), we went from very opulent, intense wines to looking for the opposite. A pendulum effect happened. Now, we’re looking for delicateness, refinement, aromatic elegance, freshness, etc. The aim is to offer aesthetics in the glass and a pleasant feeling in the mouth.
What would you say to young people who are getting started in the world of wine?
Have a lot of patience and perseverance.
What are you doing now and what are your future plans in the short term?
Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my career, reconsidering the short-term future (I avoid the long term). Recharging my batteries to keep up with whatever’s around the corner, bringing myself up to date constantly, and adapting myself to the unrelenting evolution and pace of the industry and society.
A little taste
Best time for having a glass of wine.
Any time I’m with someone I feel comfortable with or where there is a shared love. Wine is the perfect link.
A song to enjoy wine to.
I don’t usually listen to music when I drink wine, but if I did, it would be calm, at a very low frequency so I could immerse myself in the wine. Blues or soul.
Somewhere you’d get lost.
In a leafy forest crossed by a river, with no trace of people.
What do you do in your free time?
Spend it with the people I love most, and keep up with my fatherly duties.
A flaw and a virtue.
Flaw: meticulous and punctual.
What did you want to be when you were little? And now that you’re grown up?
A botanist when I was little. When I was 10 or 12, I used to have Dioscorides’ book and two plant classification books. You’d have to ask yourself what being grown up is. I’d want to be a better person than I am now. Trying to maintain the energy needed to keep up and being able to see out my professional days enjoying them.