2015 Boston Rising Star Sommelier Lauren C. Daddona of L'Espalier

2015 Boston Rising Star Sommelier Lauren C. Daddona of L'Espalier
March 2015

When Lauren Daddona graduated from Maine’s Bowdoin College with a degree in romance languages and art history, a transition to the world of wine felt like the natural next step. Christie’s wine department was where she got her first exposure to juice in a concrete manner, but it was the Wine & Spirit Education Trust’s intermediate course that allowed Daddona to contextualize and solidify her ad-hoc tasting experiences.

Daddona spent the first six years of her career at Lower Falls Wine Company in Newton, Massachusetts, where she tasted thousands of wines and traveled to wine regions in France, Spain, and the United States. While at Lower Falls, she even acted as auction liaison between the retail store and Skinner Inc., eventually becoming part of New England’s first ever wine auctions once the two companies partnered.

Deciding to fully pursue the Master Sommelier track, Daddona took a sommelier position at Les Zygomates in Boston, and moved on to manage the wine program at Chiara Bistro in Westwood, Massachusetts. In 2013, she earned her Advanced Sommelier certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers—one of only six people in Boston to have done so—and was promoted from sommelier to Wine Director at L’Espalier that same year. The wine list at L'Espalier is known for its high-quality, distinctive bottlings, and Daddona invests her time and effort in continually searching the globe for new treasures to add to the list. She is on the board of directors of the Boston Sommelier Society, competed in the 2013 Somm Slam, and was a Top|Somm regional finalist in both 2014 and 2015.

Interview with Boston Rising Star Sommelier Lauren C. Daddona of L'Espalier

Mary Choi: How did you develop an interest in wine?
Lauren Daddona:
I drank a little bit of wine when I was in France for my study abroad. I needed something that would keep me interested when I was at Christie’s auction house. And I realized that the wine world would never leave me bored; plus I always loved maps and geography and learning about what makes wine what it is. I worked in retail in the suburbs of Boston for six years. In order to take the next step in my career, I decided I needed to get into the restaurant side of things. So I left retail and I went for it.

MC: What is your philosophy on wine and food?
Have a lot of balance with really high-end wine and contrasting pairings. I’m much more into complementary qualities and textures. I like to think about how the wine feels and compare different styles with similar flavor profiles.

MC: What wines do you favor for your cellar at home?
LD: Things that are refreshing—whites and sparkling wines in particular. My husband is also a somm; we usually drink Champagne or wines of Germany, but also Chablis and Burgundy. I also prefer Italian reds. I usually like wines that are refreshing and aren’t too heavy.

MC: What producers are you interested in at the moment?
I love Freddy Mugnier. His wines are super expressive, and I think, "Why can’t everyone make wine like you!?" He makes the kind of wine that you don’t get tired of. I also like the pinot gris from Alsatian marc Kreydenweiss. It’s dry but with a bitter finish and remains in balance. It’s not that expensive and I find 8 million ways to use it.

MC: A little known region to lookout for?
I would say Pfalz in Germany. It’s similar to Alsace and the wines are incredibly dry. They have power but elegance, I would love for people to realize how different German regions can be.

MC: Where do see yourself in five years?
Part of me is incredibly happy where I am now and I have a great amount of freedom here. They let me do my job and it’s a great community. I’m pursuing masters, I don’t know what’s beyond that, but the masters is the main goal. I want to know who’s doing what where and fully understand the current wine world.

Tips for the Sommelier by Boston Rising Star Sommelier Lauren C. Daddona of L'Espalier

There’s so much satisfaction to be found in wine! I try to always be aware that many people simply enjoy it as a tasty beverage, but for those who seek more, I have plenty of tips for maximizing the experience.

Taste everything! No one likes a snob. There’s learning to be found in both the cheap mini bottles that they serve on airplanes as well as the more quality and luxury examples. It's very useful tohave knowledge of the spectrum of wine that exists.

When a tasting menu with pairings is offered, order it! The chef's favorite dishes are showcased here and the sommelier selects a wine to enhance each course. It’s a great way to discover wines that you may never have otherwise tried, and it is a great opportunity to experience food and wine pairing magic.

One of the easiest ways to begin educating oneself about wine is to learn about the region of the wine while you are enjoying it. Buy Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson's The World Atlas of Wine and locate your wine on a map. Imagine what it's like there! Is it a very hot place or very cold? Is it rainy or dry? What’s the cuisine like? What would they eat with the exact wine that you’re drinking? If you were planning a trip there, what would you see and do? I like to associate wine with travel. It can be a great mental vacation! Of course, if you are able to take a real vacation and visit wine regions, all the better; you’ll learn a great deal in a short period of time.

Wine service is about people as much as it is about wine. When I approach a table, I aim to understand the dynamic as quickly as possible: Are they formal and want to keep to themselves; are they friendly and want to engage; are they adventurous and looking for a new experience; or are they happy ordering the reliable favorite? The aim is to get the wine into the glass that the guest will love the most. Our list is kept as diverse as possible in order to ensure this!

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