Cees van Casteren

Interview with a Master of Wine

Cees van Casteren is a Dutch Master of Wine, a title he’s held since 2012 and was only the second to attain in the Netherlands. His expertise is wide-ranging and extends to a truly astounding number of international wine regions.

Aside from giving our guests at Dutch events an unforgettable wine tasting experience, Cees is a celebrated author having published 12 books on wine, a WSET teacher, and runs his own consultancy and training business. Cees has also been named the Netherlands’ Vinologist of the year twice and writes for a number of local and international wine publications. We had a great time learning more about the man behind the words.

Chief Wine Officer: Tell us a little about your background – how did you first become interested in wine?

Cees van Casteren MW: “When I was Praeses of the student body in the city of Tilburg, the father of one of my colleagues in the Senate happened to be the city’s main wine trader. He made sure to spoil us with these fantastic wine tastings every now and then. Although at that time, I have to admit, I was a devoted beer drinker, he got me hooked on wine as well.”

When did you first think, “I want to become a Master of Wine”?

“When I lived in the USA in the nineties, Michael Aaron of Sherry-Lehmann in New York City suggested I make a career change from the perfume industry to the wine trade. “All that matters in the wine trade however”, he said, “is experience”. Hastily, he added: “of which you have none”.

“But the good news according to Michael was that I could follow a specific course and once I passed, it would the equivalent of many years of experience. He was hinting at the Master of Wine qualification. Although (rightfully) I wasn’t accepted in the programme at that time, ‘a seed was planted’ and ten years later I would re-apply and be accepted. “

What’s the best thing about your job?

“Meeting the very special personalities of the wine industry: producers, growers, my colleagues, wine writers, buyers and sommeliers; a rare cuvée of very different people, but all having the heart for wine in the right place.”

What wine do you think people should appreciate but don’t?

“German Riesling. It is maybe the most underrated wine in the world but can give astonishing complexity. In a world where commercial Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Grigios are often interchangeable, German Riesling always remembers its origin.”


When you pour a glass of champagne, about 80 percent of the carbon dioxide escapes invisibly through the liquid’s surface through a process called diffusion. The rest forms the about one million bubbles in a champagne flute.

– Cees van Casteren MW


What is your favourite expensive wine, and your favourite affordable wine?

“There is at least a cuvée of favourites, some of which are expensive. Château Lafite Rothschild, Comtes de Champagne, Seña from Chile, Baumard Clos du Papillon, (top notch Loire Chenin Blanc), Christmann Ruppertsberg Riesling Pfalz, Knoll Grüner Veltliner Smaragd Loibenberg, Gaia Assyrtiko Santorini, Roda I from Rioja and El Nogal from Pagos de Capellanes in Ribera del Duero, Feldmarschall Müller-Thurgau from Alto Adige… (how long do you have?).

“Some ten years ago I discovered this Crémant de Bourgogne which only differs in price from champagne.”

What wine fact can you share with our readers so they can impress their friends?

“When you pour a glass of champagne, about 80 percent of the carbon dioxide escapes invisibly through the liquid’s surface through a process called diffusion. The rest forms the about one million bubbles in a champagne flute.”

If you were hosting a dinner party, who would you invite (from anytime, anywhere)?

“Johan Cruijff (captain of the Dutch team in 1974), Meryl Streep, Paul Pontallier (the winemaker of Château Margaux who passed away a few years ago), Amy Winehouse, Roald Dahl, Maria Callas, Tommy Cooper and Frank Sinatra.”

What is your wine guilty pleasure?

“Rosé (especially in summer but is becoming more and more my year-round wine guilty pleasure…).”

Meet Cees

Attend a CWO event in London and meet the Master of Wine himself

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About Cees

Visit the Masters of Wine website to get a detailed breakdown of Cees’ expertise and history in wine

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Any questions?

If you have any wine tasting or wine industry questions for Cees, email us and we’ll send them on