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Wine Education Wine Courses

Q & A  Session on Wine & Spirits

Sommeliers will often field questions from the staff on various topics pertaining to the beverage program. Browse through this section now and again for tips, tricks and educational tidbits from the hospitality arena.

  • What does it mean to "pair" wine with food?
    Adding wine to a meal accomplishes many things, in addition to the obvious enjoyment of a great glass of wine with dinner. First, it accentuates the meal. The flavors in the wine can be matched with the flavors in the food to create a heightened level of enjoyment for the consumer. Second, it can "prepare" the palate. Sometimes foods are rich, heavy and/or covered in sauces. The acidity (and tannin) in some wines can aide in keeping the palate fresh in spite of the heavy flavors and textures of the dish. Third, it helps with digestion. There are many touted beneficial properties of wine, however, a glass of red wine with a heavy meal can help the digestive process (for some). A glass of wine is not necessary for a great food experience. However, it does add an additional element of flavor and texture to a meal and does accentuate the food, if the wine is chosen correctly.
  • How do you describe the difference between old world and new world wines?
    If a guest were to ask a sommelier: "What is the difference between old world and new world wines", our answer would be: "Old world wines are those from Europe, and traditionally they are a touch lighter and drier than those from the new world. All other areas of the world besides Europe is considered the new world, with the wines generally being a touch heavier and more fruit-forward than their old world counterparts." (These are guidelines, not rules! There are always exceptions.)
  • How do you upsell wine by the glass without seeming pushy?
    High ticket items such as luxury wine, or even luxury food products, often sell themselves, with a little help from a well trained service professional. "Suggestive selling", simply offering up options to your guests at the opportune time, is a way to delicately upsell without being obtrusive. For example, if a guest is looking for a red wine by the glass, offer multiple suggestions in different price points, and emphasize the most expensive with some information or an anecdote about the wine. If you are going to recommend something, have some knowledge about the item and you will make a more compelling case for that guest to trust you and try the higher priced wine. We can see how product knowledge helps us sell in the case of selling a martini. Your first question should be "vodka or gin"? Which means, if you want to upsell from well to premium, you are going to have to know not only what is on your backbar, but a touch about why the guest should order it. Offering your guests options while delivering the information in a concise and warm manner will yield better results when you are at the table.
  • What is the best way to go about recommending wine to a guest?
    Making a great recommendation means playing detective and finding out the guests desired preference, then taking your product knowledge and matching a style of wine with the guests desired preference. Finding out what they like and offering a couple options that fit their taste is the foundation of a great recommendation. "Would you prefer red or white wine this evening?" "White" "Would you prefer light or fuller bodied white this evening? "Light" "Are you enjoying a sweeter wine, or more on the dry side tonight? "Dry, very dry" "How about trying our Chablis this evening? I can bring you a taste to see if it is to your liking" You start by asking the necessary questions to get to the guests desired preference, then you take your product knowledge and cross reference the style of wine the guests is looking for with the styles of wine on your wine list. It requires you to know a bit about the offerings on your list, but makes the sales and service of wine (and spirits) so much easier when you ask the right questions while being educated on the products your establishment offers.
  • What does a guest mean when they ask for a sweet red wine?
    Very often your guests do not know what they are tasting in their wine, from the point of view that they have not been trained to analyze sweet, sour, salty and savory elements in beverages. This is to be expected, and we have to navigate this when recommending and explaining wine. Those wine consumers who drink offerings with high amounts of fruit aromas and lower tannins often associate this with a sweetness in the wine, even though the wine may very well be "technically" dry. Very few sweet Merlot or Syrah's exist, although you can find examples of both grapes that have low levels of perceived dryness. The best course of action is to first, understand that there may be a slight misunderstanding in the guests perception, as we must never point that out in the course of our recommendation. We now know that this person likes wines with lower tannin and lower dryness levels, and most likely drinks wine from warm places that make ripe, fruit forward wine. Second, make a couple suggestions using the information you have received from the simple question "do you have a sweet red wine?", as you now know the guests preference and can make recommendations inside of those parameters. Third, let your guest taste! If you pour wines by the glass, give the guest a taste and see if they like your recommendation. Start with new world Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Merlot for those guests whose enjoy a "sweetness" in their red wines.
  • Where is the best Chardonnay produced, other than Burgundy?
    California is the most widely known, with the archetype example having a fuller body and more oak, and that definitive buttery characteristic. Areas of note are Sonoma County, Napa Valley, Monterey County and Santa Barbara County. Other than Burgundy, these are the most popular offerings in restaurants. Oregon and Washington State both produce a wide array of styles, with many producers here opting for a lighter style in comparison to California's prime examples. New York, Texas and Virginia all produce a good amount of the Chardonnay grape as well, with very few rising to international availability, let alone notoriety. Australia grows a lot of Chardonnay, mostly producing a buttery and oak driven style. There are some serious producers making a more restrained version in Margaret River and Mornington Peninsula, but the fuller body styles are most prevalent now. New Zealand has some great examples being produced, as their model for their Burgundian varieties has been to keep it Burgundian; restrained and slightly lighter in style. There are many producers of the grape in Chile as well as Argentina, but the quality has not achieved a higher level than most other new world areas. The sleeper might be South Africa, as the coastal influence and diverse microclimates give vintners a chance to make a more traditional style of the grape, with Burgundy as their model. We cover Chardonnay well in our Professional Wine Course. Here is an excerpt of a discussion on the grape.
  • What are some off the beaten path white wines to recommend to guests?
    The "light, bright and white" category is often asked for by restaurant patrons, and having a few offerings in your "back pocket" is important. Yes, you can offer Pinot Grigio, but try one of these as well: Falaghina. This bright and fresh white wine from the Campania region of Italy has great quality to price point and is always under $80 on a wine list (at least it should be!). This wine has elevated acidity and a great mix of fruit and earth aromas and flavors. Gruner Veltliner. The darling of the Danube, GruVee is a great suggestion for those looking for an unoaked white, especially those who enjoy the earthier side of white wines. Albariño. This wine is exclusively grown in Rias Baixas, Spain (at least it should be) and gives immense quality to price point, as great examples can be found in the $20 retail and $60 restaurant price points. Lots of fruit, lots of floral and a great food pairing wine. Picpoul. Preferably from Pinet, this light bright wine grown on the French Riviera has some body from all the sunshine, salinity from its proximity to the Mediterranean and is often an artisanal product at a fraction of the price of most white wines. The sleeper on this list!
  • What is the difference between White Burgundy and California Chardonnay?
    As is the case with most old world vs. new world comparisons, the white Burgundy will be lighter, drier and more mineral driven while the California example will have more body, more alcohol and more oak. This is a generalization, as more white Burgundies are becoming like the new world style, and vise versa. However, when explaining to a guest, point out white Burgundies propensity to be on the drier and non-fruit side of the spectrum. Remember that Pinot Noir is most often grown in places alongside Chardonnay, and the generalizations made above can be made about that grape as well. Pinot Noir grown in Burgundy will be lighter and drier than their new world counterparts, which will be more fruit forward. The climate in California can be considered Mediterranean, while the climate in Burgundy is considered Continental; with definitively cooler and harsher weather patterns. The cooler ambient temperatures leave Burgundy with less powerful fruit flavors like the new world has, along with accentuated non-fruit aromas and flavors.
  • A conversation about Sauvignon Blanc.
    This is a great introduction to the Sauvignon Blanc grape. Along with our articles and content inside of our courses, mastering this grape is easy!
  • Is Riesling always a sweet wine?
    No, not all Riesling wines are sweet. Riesling is a versatile grape variety that can be used to produce wines across the entire spectrum of sweetness, from bone-dry to very sweet. The perception of Riesling as primarily a sweet wine is a common misconception, but in reality, its styles can be very diverse. Dry Riesling: These wines have little to no residual sugar and can be quite crisp and refreshing, with high acidity. They often express minerality and can be found in many wine-producing regions, including parts of Germany (like the Rheingau and Pfalz) and Alsace in France. Off-Dry Riesling: These wines have a touch of sweetness but are balanced by the grape's natural acidity. This style is commonly found in Germany's Mosel region. Sweet Riesling: These are wines like Spätlese and Auslese from Germany, which have noticeable sweetness but are not as intensely sweet as dessert wines. They are often enjoyed with food that can handle their sugar content, like spicy Asian cuisine. Dessert Riesling: These are intensely sweet wines, often made from grapes affected by "noble rot" (botrytis cinerea) which concentrates the sugar content in the grapes. Examples include Beerenauslese and Trockenbeerenauslese from Germany and some late harvest Rieslings from other regions. Sparkling Riesling: Known as Sekt in Germany, these are sparkling wines made from the Riesling grape. They can also range in sweetness levels. Check out our Professional Wine Course for more info on Riesling!
  • Is oak treatment is good or bad thing for white wines?
    That depends on your own personal taste, and in the hospitality arena, it depends on what your guests enjoys. Oak treatment will impart some very specific aromas and flavors into wine, so the first order of business is finding out what your guests likes before recommending a wine with oak. Aging a wine in oak is a necessary part of the process for some wines, and for others it is just downright offensive when imparted. With the Chardonnay grape, we find the introduction of aromas and flavors that add different dimensions to the wine and aide in the wines aging over time. The small amount of vanillin and tannin that seeps into the juice while laying in the barrel assists the wine on its journey to becoming some of the most sought after wines in the world. People who enjoy oaked wines, really enjoy them. On the other side of the coin, no oak treatment lets a grape variety sing a more unadulterated song, showing its varietal purity and freshness. Wines with higher acidity and an enjoyable fruit profile may benefit from staying as far away from oak barrels as possible, as it can simply get in the way of a wines naturally appealing characteristics. We should note that some of the most expensive wines in the world have oak treatment on them, and this takes nothing away from those wines that do not. It is purely a step that is meant to add dimension and depth, and not to steal the show and be the sole aroma and flavor you sense. If one would like to experience what a properly oaked wine tastes like, try a premier cru Chablis, as they tend to use oak sparingly and with restraint.
  • What are some alternatives to Pinot Grigio for a light, crisp white wine?
    If you enjoy light, bright white wines with no oak ageing and a crisp finish, consider one of these: Grüner Veltliner, Austria Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain Falaghina, Campania, Italy Greco di Tufo, Campania Italy Dry Furmint, Hungary Semillion, Hunter Valley, Australia Sylvaner, Alsace, France
  • What is the best way to describe the Malbec grape?
    Malbec is a full bodied red wine that has a similar body style to Merlot, but a more diverse array of flavor. Malbec is heavier on the palate, having aromas and flavors of dark ripe fruit, dried spices and toasty oak. The higher quality examples of Malbec can rival those of all new world wines, with some serious quality gains having been made of the last 2 decades. It hails from France, having been grown in the Bordeaux and SW France areas for centuries. It has fallen out of favor there (although Cahors is still a bright spot), and Argentina carries the torch into the modern era. The Mendoza region of Argentina, the place that is producing the highest quality examples of this grape in the new world, has turned into a wine destination over the last 10 years, as the industry has transformed the small city nestled into the Andes Mountains, into an international destination.
  • How to read a Burgundy wine label.
    Here are some points on reading wine labels from the old world, specifically Burgundy. You do have to have some theoretical knowledge, as in what type of grape grows where, as most areas do not put the grape variety on the wine label. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the white and red grapes, respectively, responsible for the amazing offerings from Burgundy. They tend to be on the lighter side of the spectrum in comparison to their new world counterparts. Notice how the labels change depending upon the level of wine. Grand Cru wines will prominently place the name of the vineyard at or near the top. Keep in mind that we always recite the vintage, producer and appellation the wine hails from when serving the wine to our guests.
  • Is drinking red wine good for you?
    The health effects of red wine have been a topic of discussion and research for several years. Moderate consumption of red wine has been associated with certain health benefits, but it's essential to understand the nuances of these findings and the potential risks. Potential Healthy Aspects of Red Wine Consumption Cardiovascular Health: One of the most often cited benefits of moderate red wine consumption is its potential positive impact on cardiovascular health. This is primarily attributed to antioxidants like resveratrol, tannins, and flavonoids. They may help reduce the risk of coronary artery disease by increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and protecting against artery damage. Rich in Antioxidants: Red wine, especially varieties like Pinot Noir or Cabernet, is known to have a high concentration of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that can neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. May Improve Longevity: Some studies suggest that moderate wine consumption can lead to a longer life. This is often linked to the "French Paradox," a term coined in the 1980s. The French have relatively low incidences of coronary heart disease despite having a diet rich in saturated fats, which some attribute to their moderate and regular wine consumption. Disease Resistance: Moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with a 30% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. The consumption of moderate amounts of wine might be associated with a lower risk of ischemic stroke. Resveratrol, found in red wine, has been shown in laboratory studies to have anti-cancer effects. Health Risks Associated with Alcohol Moderation is Key: The potential benefits are observed with moderate consumption, which is defined by the American Heart Association as one to two four-ounce glasses a day. Potential for Abuse: Alcohol is addictive, and excessive consumption can lead to alcoholism and other health and societal issues. Chronic excessive drinking can lead to fatty liver, hepatitis, and cirrhosis. Increased Risk of Certain Cancers: Alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of several cancers, including breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon. Other Health Risks: Drinking too much wine can increase the risk of high blood pressure, pancreatitis, and other diseases. It can also cause harm during pregnancy. Alcohol can interact harmfully with over 150 medications. While there are potential benefits to consuming red wine, it's vital to balance these with the known risks. If you don't drink alcohol, most health experts agree that you shouldn't start for the potential health benefits. Instead, focus on maintaining a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and avoiding smoking. Always consult with a healthcare professional about any health-related decisions and consider the entirety of one's diet and lifestyle. * This was not written by a doctor, nor endorsed by any medical professional. Please do your own research before consuming alcohol.
  • What are some other recommendations for Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon drinkers?
    Columbia Valley, South America, Australia and even South Africa offer great examples of Cabernet Sauvignon. Columbia Valley, Washington is always a great mid-point between Napa Valley Cabernet and Bordeaux, France. Tuscany, Italy can be a good recommendation as well, as the wines tend to be more fruit forward than Bordeaux but noticeably less so than Napa Valley.
  • What is "Red Burgundy" and why is it so expensive?
    In Burgundy, France, they are credited with making the most prolific examples of the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. Red Burgundy is simply Pinot Noir grown in Burgundy, France. (Yes, White Burgundy is Chardonnay grown in Burgundy, France) There is a balance of climate, soil, proper grape clones and a thousand years of knowledge passed down from generation to generation that makes these wines so special. There is not a lot of the great examples made, so the prices are commoditized; commanding the price that consumers are simply willing to pay. This drives the prices up (as in Bordeaux and the Napa Valley), and we see astronomical amounts charged for good Burgundy on restaurant wine lists.
  • What is the difference between Brandy and Cognac?
    All Cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is Cognac. Cognac is a delimited region in France where the product is highly regulated, sometimes commanding astronomical prices for the prized elixir.
  • What does Reposado mean on a Tequila label?
    The terms Blanco, Reposado and Añejo denote an aging regiment that the Tequila has undergone prior to bottling. The aging takes place in steel tanks for Blanco and oak casks for Reposado and Añejo. Blanco is great for mixers and shots, with sipping best reserved for the very highest end expressions. Reposado is versatile, as it can perform well in a margarita as well as sipping after dinner. Añejo is best reserved for sipping after dinner, although some do enjoy keeping some chilled for shots near the pool. The Extra Añejo category brings even more cask aging to the fold, rendering a sweeter and heavier style of Tequila. The Beverage Management for Professionals course covers spirits in depth, along with many other great hospitality topics.
  • What exactly is Mezcal?
    Mezcal is a distilled alcoholic beverage that originates from Mexico and is made from the agave plant. It is often compared to tequila, another famous Mexican spirit, but there are significant differences in production methods, flavor profiles, and regional origins. Key features of mezcal include: Agave: Mezcal is made from various species of the agave plant, also known as the maguey plant in Mexico. The heart of the agave, called the "piña," is harvested, roasted, and then crushed to extract its juices, which are then fermented and distilled. Roasting Process: One of the distinctive features of mezcal production is the roasting of the agave piñas. Traditionally, the piñas are cooked in underground pits lined with hot rocks and covered with earth. This roasting process imparts smoky and earthy flavors to the final spirit, contributing to the unique character of mezcal. Fermentation: After roasting, the cooked agave is crushed to extract its juices. The juices are then fermented, often using wild yeasts, to convert sugars into alcohol. The fermentation process can vary in length and is an important factor in the development of mezcal's flavors. Distillation: Mezcal is typically distilled in small batches using copper pot stills. The distillation process contributes to the complexity of the spirit and helps refine its flavors. Regional Diversity: Mezcal is produced in several states in Mexico, with Oaxaca being the most renowned and traditional mezcal-producing region. Different regions and producers can produce mezcal with distinct flavor profiles, influenced by factors such as the agave species used, terroir, and production methods. Artisanal Production: Many traditional mezcal producers follow centuries-old techniques, resulting in small-batch, artisanal spirits. The craft and attention to detail in production contribute to the rich character of mezcal. Variety of Agave Species: Mezcal can be made from various agave species, including Espadín, Tobalá, Madre-Cuishe, and many others. Each species imparts its own flavors and characteristics to the final spirit. Serving and Consumption: Mezcal is often enjoyed neat, sipped slowly to appreciate its intricate flavors. Some people also enjoy it in cocktails or mixed drinks that highlight its unique smoky and earthy notes. Worm or Larva Myths: Contrary to popular belief, not all mezcal bottles contain a worm or larva. This practice is not common and is often associated with marketing gimmicks rather than traditional production. Overall, mezcal is celebrated for its artisanal craftsmanship, diverse flavors, and connection to Mexican culture and tradition. It has gained popularity around the world among enthusiasts who appreciate its unique character and the stories behind each bottle.
  • What is the difference between Scotch and Bourbon?
    Both are whiskies, so there are many similarities. Scotch, which hails from Scotland, will be drier and will have more aromas and flavors that are dependent upon the producer and area it was made. Some scotch whiskies are smoky, representing the style of the region it was produced in. Others are light and honeyed, layered with salinity from the proximity to the sea. Bourbon, which can be made anywhere in America, is very much dependent upon the style of the producer, and will usually be slightly less dry than Scotch. A more traditional aroma and flavor profile of vanilla, charred oak and pecan pie can be found in most offerings to some degree.
  • Why is Japanese Whisky so expensive?
    Essentially, the Japanese are following the most astringent protocols for alcohol production, right along the lines of Scotland. Many of the malting and roasting techniques are taken right from places like the Highlands and Islay, and when blended with Japanese ingenuity and attention to detail, the finished product is amazing. The first distillery was Yamazaki and is probably the most well known and widely poured in America. Companies like Suntory and Nikka can be trusted as quality brands, as they continue to produce award winning spirits year in and year out. (P.S... they spell it Whisky, not Whiskey.)
  • Why is Italy so well suited for grape growing?
    Italy enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with long dry summers and cool, wet winters. Its the wet in the winter part that bodes well, as that combined with the fresh sea breezes help keep vineyard diseases at bay. The inland of the peninsula is littered with elevation changes, which are utilized to the growers advantage in Italy. Higher elevations can give the growers in the southern part of the country the perfect answer for the balmy summers of the south, as they will seek higher ground to find a lower ambient temperature.
  • What are some of the most impactful geographical features for a wine region?
    Water. Proximity to large bodies of water can have a major impact, as the ambient temperature is influenced as well as the weather patterns that blow off of the sea. There are some regions where you can even taste the sea salted air in the finished wine! Mountains. They can act as a shield or as a protagonist for tumultuous conditions. Take Argentina, for example. The Andes Mountains provide immense benefits like unlimited water from the snow melt and elevation changes that help growers seek out new areas to combat climate changes. However, the Zonda winds that blow fiercely off of the mountain play havoc on the region, rendering the proximity to the great range a double edged sword in some respects.
  • What is meant by the terms microclimate and macroclimate? Is this what terroir is?
    These are terms are used to denote the immediate climate (micro) and the surrounding climate (macro) and the effect it has on the vineyards that occupy these areas. Microclimate can refer to a space from a few square meters to a few square miles, while macroclimate usually refers to the area of a village, commune or entire appellation. Terroir is an often overcomplicated and incorrectly used term, as it is denoting the convergence of microclimate, macroclimate, soil, rainfall and all the other elements of a particular vineyard or commune, resulting in a unique expression that is particular (classic) to that piece of land. Each grape likes its own set of climactic conditions that it enjoys. Sometimes, those conditions are only available in small pockets of geographical space.
  • What are some other areas other than Burgundy and California that produce good Pinot Noir?
    Oregon. The Willamette Valley is the of the best wine regions in America, with tremendous levels of quality being achieved in a relatively short lifespan. The Pinot Noir grown there is very high quality, and many producers rival the quality in California, if not surpassing it. New Zealand. Central Otago, on the South Island of NZ, is a bastion of great producers, and the wines coming from there are spectacular. Australia. Yes, the land of Shiraz has some pockets that produce great Pinot Noir. The Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula are both quality growing areas. South Africa. This country is probably the most diverse in terms of microclimates, having desert, mountains, cool coastal areas and big cities alike. The coastal areas are well suited for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay production. Keep the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario, the Ahr region in Northern Germany and the southern coast of England on your radar! (Yes, that England.)
  • Viura
    The Viura grape, also known as Macabeo in other parts of Spain, is a white wine grape variety that is widely planted in the Rioja and Catalonia regions. It is known for producing wines that are fresh and aromatic, with a palate of green apple, citrus, and floral notes, often used in the production of both still white wines and as a key component in Cava, the Spanish sparkling wine.
  • Albariño
    The Albariño grape is a white wine variety predominantly grown in the Rías Baixas DO (Denominación de Origen) region in Galicia, northwest Spain. Esteemed for its distinctive aromatic profile, Albariño wines are celebrated for their intense floral and fruity notes, including aromas of apricot, peach, and citrus, complemented by zesty acidity and a saline minerality that reflects the coastal terroir. These characteristics make Albariño wines exceptionally food-friendly, pairing wonderfully with seafood, tapas, and a variety of other dishes, and have contributed to the grape's growing popularity on the international wine scene.
  • Pinot Noir
    The Pinot Noir wine grape is a red wine variety that is valued for its ability to produce some of the world's most exquisite and coveted wines, renowned for their depth, complexity, and elegance. Originating from the Burgundy region of France, Pinot Noir thrives in cooler climates and is known for its notoriously difficult cultivation, requiring precise climatic conditions and careful vineyard management to express its full potential. The grape yields wines with a wide range of flavors, often exhibiting notes of cherries, raspberries, and strawberries, complemented by earthy undertones like mushroom and forest floor when aged. Pinot Noir's delicate structure, moderate tannins, and bright acidity make it versatile in pairing with a variety of foods, solidifying its status as a favorite among wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike.
  • Syrah
    The Syrah wine grape, also known as Shiraz in some regions, is a dark-skinned grape variety known for producing robust, full-bodied red wines with a wide range of flavors and aromas. Originating from the Rhône Valley in France, Syrah is celebrated for its spicy notes, often combined with flavors of dark fruits like blackberry, and it can also display hints of black pepper, licorice, and smoked meat, especially when grown in warmer climates. Syrah grapes are versatile and cultivated in numerous wine-producing regions around the world, adapting well to both cool and hot climates, which allows them to express a remarkable diversity of styles from elegant and peppery to rich and fruit-forward wines.
  • Zinfandel
    Zinfandel is a versatile grape variety with a big personality, known for producing a wide range of wine styles, from robust, full-bodied reds to lighter, fruit-forward rosés often labeled as White Zinfandel. Originating from Croatia, where it's known as Tribidrag, and also linked to the Primitivo grape in Italy, Zinfandel found a particular stronghold in California, where it became iconic in the state's winemaking history. Its red wines are celebrated for their jammy fruit flavors, often accompanied by a spicy finish, making Zinfandel a favorite among wine enthusiasts seeking bold and dynamic profiles.
  • Merlot
    The Merlot grape is a dark blue-colored wine grape variety, which is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. Its softness and fleshiness, combined with its earlier ripening, makes it a popular grape for blending with the sterner, later-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon, which adds structure to the wine. Originating from the Bordeaux region of France, Merlot is now widely planted worldwide and is known for producing wines with flavors of black cherry, plums, and herbal tones. Ready to take your wine knowledge to the next level? Sign up for our membership and get 4 quality courses on wine, spirits & hospitality!
  • Nebbiolo
    The Nebbiolo grape, renowned for producing some of Italy's most esteemed wines, finds its most celebrated expressions in the Piedmont region, specifically within the Barolo and Barbaresco appellations. These wines are celebrated for their ability to age and evolve, offering complex flavors and aromas. Beyond Piedmont, Lombardy's Valtellina region also cultivates Nebbiolo, locally known as Chiavennasca, where it produces distinctively lighter, yet still complex wines. Additionally, smaller plantings of Nebbiolo can be found in parts of the Valle d'Aosta and Northern California, where winemakers are experimenting with this challenging yet rewarding grape variety.
  • How does Somm.Site work?
    This site is designed to educate the same way a quality training program would be executed in a luxury hospitality environment. The teachings follow the same parameters that would be followed when preparing high-end hospitality employees for the popular ratings and dining awards of the day. The program is designed to be completed in a short period of time, and repeated as needed. A quality education program doesn't stay static, something that a lot of education programs are missing these days. Somm.Site courses will evolve, making the retake as informative as the initial effort.
  • How is this program different than others available in the marketplace?
    In the hospitality environment, you are often not afforded the luxury of having long blocks of time to teach in, as well as a classroom environment to learn in. However, that does not stop those at the executive level from expecting their employees to be well versed and prepared. Functions as a Traditional Class The core curriculum of Somm.Site is meant to be consumed as a class the first time through, yet functions as a great resource for the future. Functions as a Resource Each course is available for the duration of your membership. If you have a new Chardonnay coming on by the glass, the revisit the Chardonnay section of the Wine for pro's course. Have a new Gin on your bar but don't know much about it? Visit the Gin section of the Beverage Management course. Functions as an Add-On to Current Programs many of the popular education programs of the day fail to give the insight into what actually happens on the ground, especially if you are just coming into the hospitality industry. Somm.Site takes you through the things you need to know to be successful, filling in the gaps often left by collegiate or credentialled training programs. A quality education program should not remain static, that is why we will constantly be refining and adding to our core curriculum. We will offer access to our courses for our members in perpetuity so our members can enjoy the benefit of learning anytime, anywhere.

Wine Pairing

Pairing food and wine is an art that seeks to harmonize the flavors and aromas of both elements, elevating the dining experience to new culinary heights. The goal is to create a balance where neither the food nor the wine overpowers the other. Classic pairings, such as a robust Cabernet Sauvignon with a hearty steak or a delicate Sauvignon Blanc with fresh seafood, serve as starting points. We expand upon this in our Professional Wine Course, our premier course offering for those looking to learn more about wine.

What is terroir?

Terroir is a French term that's integral to the world of wine, and it's used to describe the unique characteristics that the geography, geology, and climate of a certain place bestow upon grapevines, and by extension, the wine produced from them. It represents the holistic combination of factors from a specific vineyard site or wine region that give a wine its unique flavor and aroma. As we learn each important grape in our courses, we discuss the importance of this topic along the way.

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