Welcome back to this months “you ask and I’ll answer.” For those of you just tuning in, you can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome you to email me with any wine-related questions and I will use this monthly column to answer them. While I will not be able to answer all of them, I do promise to always provide an answer via email.
Q: Donna G. from Ventnor asks: How would you recommend getting into wine from a career perspective?
A: A question I never get tired of answering. My first question back to you would be, “what’s the exact vision you see?” Do you see yourself working in retail, teaching, selling wine for an importer, serving and selling wine in a restaurant? Is it the title of Certified Sommelier that you’re after? My answer may vary slightly depending on your specific outcome. However, for purposes of this article, I am going to assume you’re starting with a beginner’s mind and open to possibilities.
First off, I always suggest “the law of proximity” — find the person who you admire and respect the most and ask if you can work for them. Or, at the very least, pick their brain about how they got there. Nothing takes the place of being in proximity to greatness and someone willing to share their knowledge about how it “really” works.
Second, get applying. Visit wine shops, liquor stores with a wine focus and restaurants with a notable wine program (with an emphasis on focus and program). There is a huge difference between an establishment that happens to sell wine and one whose philosophy is rooted in terroir, pairings, education and flavor. How do you know? Simply ask the interviewer: “what’s your philosophy on wine?” You’ll know within seconds whether it’s the right place for you. Like learning a language, nothing accelerates learning more quickly than total immersion.
My third and next tip would be to get reading. My favorite beginner books: “Wine Folly Magnum Edition Master Guide” by Madeline Puckette and “The World Atlas of Wine” by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson. Unlike novels where audio books may be a nice alternative, I strongly suggest you stick with physical hardback, as there is so much visual content when learning about wine.
Last and certainly not least, get drinking — mindfully, and with a journal. Like all basic truths, nothing takes place of experience. Make a journal entry for each wine you experience over the next 100 days. Don’t overthink it. Did you like it? Love it? Why? Use your own words to describe your experience. You’ll be blown away by your growth. Also, if you’re having company over and you know that you’re going to open more than a couple bottles, open them all up front. This will allow you and your guests to take smaller amounts with the opportunity to jump back and forth. Very quickly, you’ll be challenged to discern residual sugar (RS), acid, tannin, fruit and body.
Donna, I’m so glad you asked this question. As always, if I can assist you (or any of our readers) in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach me at anytime on your journey.
Q: Erica S. from Northfield asks: What is the correct serving temperature of wine?
A: Generally speaking, Americans tend to drink their white wine too cold and red wine too warm. Remember, the colder something is, the less flavors you will experience. I often suggest you take your white wine out of the refrigerator for 15 minutes prior to drinking whereas you can put your red wine in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes before drinking. If you’re one that needs more data, try this: for sparkling wine, 40-50 degrees; white and rose wine, 50-60 degrees; red wine, 60-70. Lastly, and most importantly, drink it when it tastes right to you.
Lastly, we finish with me asking YOU a question. Email me the answer, and I’ll reply with a prize.
Q: What is NOT a description of the aromas of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc?
A. Green Apple
B. Cat’s pee
You keep asking, and I’ll keep writing …