Julie DeFriend’s Wine Tips for the Sommelier
Taste, taste, taste. Try a multitude of wines with new dishes for pairing ideas.
Be informed, be educated, and be objective. Take the personal out of it for the most part. Figure out what makes sense for your program and cultivate it. You are shopping to create a well-appointed list for your guests, not your personal cellar.
Don’t neglect the sugar factor. Having sugar in your food without reconciling that with your wine is a clash waiting to happen. Champagne with wedding cake, anyone?
The best wine is the one you (and your guests) are enjoying. Regardless of whether a wine truly pairs well to a dish, a guest should be comfortable to drink what they love. It’s my job as a sommelier to know what works, but it’s as important to make sure guests comfortable. As a somm, you sometimes need to get creative, but that can be really fun for everyone. Step outside of your comfort zone to allow someone to stay within theirs. You will gain a guest’s trust—and their respect.
You have to consistently expose your staff to wine. Feed them interesting tidbits of information; feed them wine and pairings. Bring it down to whatever level necessary for them to “get it.” They are your sales force, and they have the ability to substantially assist you in selling your product if you give them the tools with which to do so.
Arrogance is ugly and a turnoff pretty much to everyone. Don’t ever forget that the more you know, the more there is to know. There is always someone who can teach you something, even the most unexpected sources. No one came out of the womb appreciating Latour.