Jennifer Knowles
558 Sacramento St.
San Francisco
(415) 434-4100

Biography »

Antoinette Bruno: How did you develop an interest in wine?
Jennifer Knowles: I was working in a restaurant when I was 16-years old and was asked to do a wine tasting. I learned the smell of wine and was turned on. I was a chemistry major in college and that fed it more. Then I had a friend who was at the CIA and that fueled my interest even more.

AB: What is your philosophy on food and wine?
JK: My philosophy is based upon what the customer wants, not what I tell them. If they tell me what they really want, I can add my opinion. The customer should be allowed to direct and I can include them and their taste in their experience.

AB: Do you favor Old World or New World Wines?
JK: I prefer Old World whites because of the clarity of flavors. I like that they typify where they are from. With red wines I can really go both ways.

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Jennifer Knowles
RUBICON | San Francisco

How to Get More Out of Your Sommelier

Jenn Knowles’ Wine Tips

First and foremost, the sommelier is there to help you find the wine that you want, not the one they want to sell you. So with that in mind…

  1. Be honest. Let the sommelier know your price range. It is the most helpful way we can narrow down the search and find a wine that comfortably fits your budget. There is nothing worse than being talked into an expensive wine that you didn’t plan on splurging on -- it can ruin your whole meal.

  2. Be specific. If you like white wine with steak or red wine with your salad, it is your experience we are here for. It is our job to find the best wine for your preferences and, believe me, a good sommelier can find a wine for any food. Who would think the best wine with pork, especially bacon, would be a dry style Riesling?

  3. Be adventurous. If you decide to do the tasting menu or just want a new experience, close your eyes and hold on for an amazing ride. A sommelier’s favorite pastime is turning customers onto new and exciting wines. It is not always completely successful, so be aware that the sommelier is bringing you something they love and you may not feel the same. It’s ok to tell them so -- in fact, we really appreciate it.

  4. ASK QUESTIONS! If you think we love food and wine pairings, wait until you start asking questions. Once you feel comfortable, which doesn’t always happen, open the floodgates. Want to know why you swirl a wine, should you smell the cork, why do we decant some wines and not others? Remember, we had to ask these questions at some point, too, and I know I love educating my customers as much as possible. It sounds silly, but there really are no stupid wine questions.

  5. Give feedback. We need to know what you didn’t like as much as what you did. Pairings are always evolving, as are our palates, even we have off days. Did you really love a specific wine? Maybe we can help you find it. Really hated a pairing? It’s time for us to try it again. When we are on the floor, it is all about you, so let us know if you agreed with a pairing!


Interview Cont'd
AB: Tell me about a perfect match that you discovered.
JK:Alsatian Riesling and pork, either bacon or braised pork.

AB: Why do you think you stand out as a sommelier?
JK: I try to make education and approachability the focus. I want to make people feel comfortable.

AB: What wines do you favor for your cellar at home?
JK: Champagne, Rieslings, and dry rosés.

AB: What are your ultimate career goals? Where do you see yourself in 5 and 10 years?
JK: I’d like to be a wine director of a restaurant and be able to educate staff and customers about wine, show that wine is for everyone.

   Published: October 2005