definition of Sommelier

Warner StrejanWarner Strejan

1.) You are the expert, when it comes to your own palate. There is no one else that can decide if you love it or hate it.

2.) Don't skip tasting the wine in a restaurant. Stop your conversation for a moment and give the wine your full attention. The nasty secret is that 5 % of all the wine bottled can be bad. That's all you're tasting for. Does the wine smell like a cheap hotel room shower or not?

3.) Find a winemaker you like and experiment with new varietals (grape varieties) through their expertise. Then, find a varietal that interests you and follow it back to its source. Where does it come from? This is a great way to learn about wines.

4.) When you pair wines and foods, it's always in the sauce. In other words, it's not the how, it's the what. Don't make assumptions based on "rules". Once, I paired an Asti (a sweet Italian dessert wine), with a course in the middle of a dinner for a wine director. Later, she told me that it was the best pairing of the night.

5.) A creative wine pairing should feel like a discovery. The thrill is in finding something new. Think about which flavors complement or contrast with one another.

6.) Wine has many rules and one law: Do you like it?

7.) Buy some damn dessert wine! Get out there and buy some German Rieslings you knuckleheads! Don't be afraid to admit that you like flavor. Things don't have to be dry to be good.

8.) When you're ordering from a list and you're not sure what to get, find a wine you recognize at the price point you want to pay. Then, look on the list for something you've never heard of before that sounds interesting at a price point just below the first wine. Most likely the wine is even better, but still relatively undiscovered.

9.) Pair hot dogs and hamburgers with wine. Pair everything you eat with wine, even if it's just a $10 bottle of wine. Wine and food go together.

10.) If you want to learn how to talk about wine, tell me the difference between Coke and Pepsi. Use descriptive words that refer to actual things. Your assignment in Warner's Wine World is: Smell more flowers. Smell tree bark. Taste everything. Wake up. Expand your vocabulary.


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