Suggesting a 1995 Woodward Canyon chardonnay to accompany leek-wrapped Columbia River sturgeon with apple-lovage sauce is a no-brainer.
Do you know significant verticals from grape varietals?
Riedel? Spiegelau? Glassware or Gewurztraminer?
The Herbfarm is hiring a sommelier, the person who's in charge of the wine-country restaurant's 23,000-bottle cellar, which has been celebrated as "America's best wine list."
The restaurant's owner and wine director says he's up to his Pinot in applicants.
Which got me to thinking: What does it take to get a job like this? I've faked my way through a couple of job interviews in my day. What would a guy who grew up in Gallo country need to know to fake his way through a shot at this gig?
I turned to a Tacoma wine-bar tender for advice. Here's what Kris Blondin, owner of Vin Grotto. It's good advice, no faking.
I don't many people that would be qualified to apply for a job like that. In a pinch I could tell you to brush-up with The Wine Bible. This is a great source that I use on a regular basis. Also, The Wine Lover's Companion is a good one for wine terminology.
Believe it or not, I really dig Italian Wine for Dummies and French Wine for Dummies because these are (for me) the most complicated countries to navigate. I would say a good working knowledge of these two wine countries are most important.
The problem is there is way too much information out there and it pays to be a good salesperson with a decent working knowledge of wine. Smiling and using terms like "unctuous" and "leathery" can get you far.
Most of my wine knowledge comes from "lips on" tasting. 6-7 vendors visit me each week with a bag full of wine. I learn from them and I hope they pick-up a thing or two from me.
When my customers ask me for a recommendation, the first thing I ask is what they like to drink: Wines that are fruit forward or dry? Light, Medium or heavy bodied? Do they prefer domestics or old world style?
If they plan to drink wine with food, I suggest a wine that is going to balance with the food. Neither the wine nor the food should out weigh the other. It should play off each other. When you pair the right wine with the right dish, it can be heavenly. In Hawaii once, I ordered a spicy seafood trio and chose a lovely Alsatian Riesling. I told my husband not to wait up for me cause me and my dinner were going back to the hotel for some alone time. THAT'S how good it was!
As an example, a starter salad with a vinaigrette should have a wine high in acid to balance out the dressing. This V-Day my salad is going to be paired with Sella & Mosca La Cala Vermentino from Sardenia. It is dry and crisp, with great acidity and a hint of sea salt (the vineyards are quite near the beach).
I guess the trick is to focus on the outstanding flavors in the food and then find a wine that also expresses some of those traits.
It makes me sad, I was supposed to start my sommelier training last summer, but I ran low on money (it is pretty spendy). Maybe soon. The thing is, no one knows everything about wine. It takes a lot of time
and lots of wine.