Rising Star Sommelier Sarah Valor of Commis – Oakland, CA
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Wine Tips for the Sommelier
1. Cook. Experiment with ingredients and combinations of flavors. This will help you pair food and wine. Ask the chef questions. Try to learn how and why a dish is composed as it is; understand the components in terms of acid, spice, sweetness, bitterness, and umami.
2. Experiment with wine. If you see something within your price range, try it. It may be terrible, or it may be great. You never know—you may discover something delightful.
3. Drink sherry! Try a fino sherry as an apertif and an oloroso or Pedro Ximenez as a dessert wine. The salinity of a fino or manzanilla will peak your appetite and prep your palate for a meal. Adversely, the nutty qualities of sweet sherries can enhance the savory elements of desserts and do wonders for cheese courses.
4. Remember that wine is alive. It is constantly changing and evolving. When you buy a case (or cases) continue to try it regularly over the period of time it is cellared. Make sure it continues to express everything you found in the wine when you purchased it. Hopefully it gets better or maintains the elements that made it so attractive to begin with.
5. Taste and learn about as many wines and producers as possible. Drink. Read. Explore. Discuss. Engage yourself if the world of wine. There is always more to learn, more to taste, more to uncover. Each new vintage brings something to the table. The stories behind the wine populate the glass with great pleasure.
6. When working the floor of a restaurant as a sommelier, taste every wine before it goes into a guest's glass. Ensure it is sound, not flawed or corked.