Rising Star Sommelier June Rodil of Congress – Austin, TX
Wine Tips for the Sommelier
At the end of the day it's about customer satisfaction. I never like to force diners into something that they do not want to drink. Give the best representation of what they want to drink. If it's off your menu or on your program, you should respect the product and be proud to sell it.
Taste your staff on wine as often as possible. Get them involved and excited about the program. If your staff doesn't believe in you or the wine they are selling, your program is dead in the water. Let them taste differences between a wine on your list versus something you choose not to work with. Taste the pairings you've created so they have a connection with the food and wine and can relay it to guests in a knowledgeable, genuine way.
Talk to your chef daily. Find out what he or she is doing in the kitchen and what’s planned for the future. Be inspired by the food, and talk through the pairings so you know what you’re highlighting in the dish and in the wine or beverage you will be serving. One day, you may find that the chef will ask you what you have planned for your program, and he or she may find inspiration in wines that excite you.
Be honest, tactful, and professional with your suppliers and distributors. If you taste things that you know you do not like or do not need, you're wasting each other’s time. Let them know why you do not like something to prevent them from bringing back something similar and help them better understand your palate and program. You will taste wines you like and put them on the menu; they will gain placements.
Know the difference between your job and your career. Sometimes, oftentimes, these paths are the same, but sometimes they divert, and then merge, and then separate again ... it’s an ongoing cycle. It's also very demanding. Sometimes you have 12- to 14-hour work days and then study for sommelier exams for 4 hours when you get home. Neither your job nor your career should suffer one day for the things you did the previous. It’s important to understand the difference and respect the needs of both of them. I have to remind myself about this one ... a lot.
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