Wine & Spirits
Dec 8, 2008

Wine & spirits: Sommelier advice

By: Konrad Ejbich

Wine & spirits: Sommelier advice Author: Style At Home

Wine & Spirits
Dec 8, 2008

Wine & spirits: Sommelier advice

By: Konrad Ejbich

There's a new breed of matchmakers, trained to help you find the perfect partner for that date of all dates -- Valentine's Day. These men and women are certified sommeliers, and in hotels and restaurants they’ll gladly share their bottled-up secrets if only you let them. With one spin of the corkscrew, these pros can turn an ordinary, let alone a romantic, restaurant meal into an unforgettable culinary adventure. Sommeliers aren't just masters of a wine cellar. Their primary job is to please everyone -- a demanding clientele, an enlightened kitchen, a tip-hungry floor staff and, of course, the operation's accountants and owners -- and ultimately to match wines and foods to customers' budgets.

Anne Martin, a former sommelier at Toronto's swank Canoe restaurant, now runs her own wine consultancy and writes for Canadian Living and other magazines. I asked if women approach the job differently from men. "Yes. Women are interested in being intuitive about the customer's needs."

Anne says...
Women feel very comfortable with a female sommelier. "It's like being at the makeup counter. If you're like me, you can relate to me." What about men? "They find the experience fun and unique."
One of her favourite pairings
Anything that makes Riesling sing. "I recently had an arctic char ceviche served with a Mosel Riesling. It was just lovely. The whole thrill of being a sommelier is when you have that wow feeling!"
To get the most from a sommelier
"Let him or her know what everyone at your table will be eating, and whether you're open to drinking something new or you'd prefer to stick with something familiar."

 

John Szabo, M.S., is Canada’s first and only certified Master Sommelier. He consults with hotels and restaurants, training staff, writing wine lists and managing cellars. He also contributes to Wine Access magazine and is the editor of two of its online publications, plus he serves as wine editor of the Toronto food magazine City Bites.

John says...
Tables of women are generally more open minded in their approach to wine. "They go for fruitier wines with lower alcohol, whereas men tend to order pricey, big-name blockbuster reds. Couples are a whole different dynamic, depending on the couple as well as their age."
A treat that should please everyone
Serving a classic southern Rhone red with a rack of lamb prepared Provencal style, with black olive tapenade.
To get the most from a sommelier
"Be forthright: name your price range, tell me what you normally like to drink, and challenge me to excite you. A good sommelier will usually rise to the occasion and deliver the best value."

 

Astrid Young is a certified sommelier and musician. Her concert tours have provided her with many opportunities to visit various wine regions around the world. One of her favourites is Prince Edward County, just next door to where she now works as wine director at Capers Brasserie in Belleville, Ont., and manages the restaurant at The Devonshire Inn on the Lake in Wellington, Ont.

Astrid says...
"Women are more accepting of suggestions and more willing to take a chance on an unknown or exotic wine. Men typically have an idea of what they want, and if I get called over to a table of men, it's only to talk about their choice."
Some of her favourite food-wine marriages
Foie gras and Sauternes, crispy-skin duck with cherry demi-glaze and California Pinot Noir, and turkey with Vernaccia. Another guilty pleasure she doesn't mind sharing: a big French-style Syrah, such as Crozes-Hermitage, with potato chips.
To get the most from a sommelier
"Don't be shy -- feel free to ask questions. A sommelier will be only too happy to share his or her passion for wine with you."



 

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Wine & spirits: Sommelier advice