Interview with a Somm

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It's no secret, the world of wine is equally confusing as it is captivating. We sat down with our Wine Director and Certified Sommelier, Gretel, to get her take on interesting wine recs, underrated regions, pairing suggestions, and more!

What’s your go-to bottle or varietal of wine?

G: Bubbly and Rosé are so food-friendly, I always have one (or both) stocked in my fridge ready to go!

What wine would you recommend for someone who’s just getting into vino?

G: A lot of new wine drinkers gravitate towards aromatic, sweet white wines. Try a German Riesling, French Gewürztraminer, California Chenin Blanc or Italian Prosecco! The key is to go for variety, this way you can start to form opinions about the wines, flavors you like (or don’t like), sweetness levels you enjoy, etc.

What’s the best wine you’ve ever had?

G: 1991 Silver Oak Cabernet Sauvignon - rich, intense notes of blackcurrant, red plum, sweet tobacco, vanilla, bittersweet chocolate and irresistibly silky tannins. Is your mouth watering yet?

Do you have any wine guilty pleasures?

G: Pairing wine and the latest season of the Bachelor

What’s your all-time favorite wine pairing?

G: Blue cheese and Port. There’s a reason why this is a classic wine pairing - salty cheese and sweet wine is the ultimate!

Where’s your favorite place to drink a glass of vino?

G: Besides at work? At home on my patio (AKA ‘Cat-io’) with my cat, Pesto.

What’s an underrated wine region that more people should know about?

G: There is so much more to Portugal than just Port! Try a red wine from this country and prepare to be amazed.

What white wine would you recommend for a red wine drinker?

G: A Viognier or Chardonnay. These varietals may be aged in oak, which red wine lovers usually like, they are full-bodied and often have a slightly lower acidity.

What red wine would you recommend for a white wine drinker?

G: An Old World Rosé is a great ‘in-between’ wine. Red/black grapes are pressed and the skins remain with the juice - this is how Rosé gets its color. Due to the skin contact, a Rosé tends to have some tannins, a perfect chance for white wine lovers to get used to the astringent quality. Another idea - try a New World Pinot Noir, it's light-bodied, has ripe red fruits, and the acidity will leave your palate wanting more after each sip!

What is your favorite Bright Cellars wine?

G: White Willow Chardonnay from Australia

What type of wine would you recommend ordering on a date?

G: It all depends on what’s for dinner! Sparkling wine is a fun way to start the meal and pairs well with most appetizers. Don’t feel like you need to impress your date by ordering an expensive bottle of Bordeaux. If the restaurant has a Somm on staff, don’t be intimidated by them, they are there to help you! Ask for their recommendations and they will guide you to the perfect pairing.

What’s your beverage of choice when you’re not sipping wine?

G: I am from Wisconsin. Friday night isn’t complete without a Brandy Old Fashioned, sweet, with olives and a fish fry.

What’s your favorite part about working in the wine industry?

G: The industry is constantly changing - new wines, new regions, new packaging, new brands, new technology, new trends. It’s so exciting!

What does a Wine Director do? How do you help Bright Cellars?

G: I collaborate with our designer to develop wine brands, taste a ton of wine to decide what members will love, plan out which vino to feature in our selection, manage inventory, and educate the Bright Cellars staff!

Wine can be intimidating. By introducing our members to new varietals, up-and-coming regions, and helping them discover the profiles of wines they love, we can start to chip away at some of the pretentious vibes surrounding wine. Ultimately, I want our members to learn or try something new each time they receive a box from us!

What is one of the biggest misconceptions from members about their wine matches?

G: “I hate Chardonnay, why was I matched with one?” No two Chardonnays are alike! Just because you hate a big, buttery oaky Chard, doesn’t mean you won’t like an acidic, citrus-y, unoaked Chardonnay! Wine can be made in many different styles. Be open to trying one of our varietals that you may not have liked in the past, it just may be your new favorite!

What’s the most common question you receive from Bright Cellars’ members?

G: “I want to learn how to smell wine, but I can’t get past wine smelling like, well, wine!” Here’s your excuse to drink more vino! The more you practice and try new varietals, the more you will start to pick up on the differences in their aromas and flavors. For more on learning how to taste by smell, visit our post: Stop and Smell the Rosé!

Cheers, friends!

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