Area manager Sonia Canfora is one of the select few individuals from her country to speak Mandarin fluently and she uses her language skills well to advance in her profession.
Hailing from Rome, her job as the area manager for Asia for Cantina Zaccagnini brand of wine takes her throughout the region.
“Most of my main clients and customers are from countries like China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.
“I have come to like Malaysia very much as the people are friendly and food diverse.
“As many of my clients are well versed in Mandarin and not so much in English, it makes communication easier during my promotional trips to all these countries,” said Sonia when on her wine-tasting trips to Penang recently.
She is also fluent in English and Spanish. She learnt Mandarin in the university for a semester and had to practise to perfect the language on her job in the past 10 years.
“By speaking their mother tongue, it helps to break the ice and we become acquainted faster. They are also very surprised that a white female can converse in Mandarin quite well.
“Good conversation over a good glass of wine never fails to forge friendship.
“Many a times, they are also very good to me and extremely pleased when I do my presentations. Not many Italians back home take up Mandarin as they find that Mandarin is too difficult to pronounce and understand for Italians.
Her job is to educate wine lovers on the correct technique to enjoy drinking wine.
“Wine is something which is also mentioned in the ancient scriptures and it has a rich tradition and vintage from time immemorial. Nowadays, there are “old world wine” and “new world wine”. For the uninitiated, “new world” wines are those produced outside the traditional wine-growing areas of Europe and the Middle East.
“These are produced particularly in Argentina, Australia, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and United States to name a few.”
The “old world” wines are mainly from France, Italy, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Romania, Hungary, Greece, Spain and Portugal which have long-established history of wine production.
“As the living standard of people is on the rise, more and more of them are coming to appreciate fine wines,” said Sonia who is based in Taipei with her husband who is a painter and often travels on her work requirements.
Sharing on her hobbies during her spare time, she adds that she likes to practise yoga every day.
“I also love to cook and bake, preparing our meals every day, love to read about history and anthropology, love movies, gardening and meeting people from all around the world.
“Almost every month we will hold a party in our house as we love to meet different people and love being together. I love to explain my country culture to all these people and I am so blessed to meet them,” she added.