Most of us know the feeling of staring blankly at an extensive wine list, lost somewhere between Chardonnay and Cabernet. Paralysis by analysis – what seems to be an easy decision can quickly turn into a daunting task. Will this wine overpower the entrée? Should I have ordered red instead of white? What if I don’t like the wine I order? Enter the sommelier, master of the vine, fluent in everything wine.
If you think you know a lot about wine, sommeliers know more. The sole purpose of these dedicated professionals is to help you discover and enjoy wine as much as they do, finding the perfect complement to your meal. Yet sommeliers go largely untapped by many of us, who either forget that sommeliers are even an option or assume that our wine needs are not demanding enough or our knowledge extensive enough to justify calling in such an expert. While Master Sommelier and wine consultant, Scott Harper, concedes that sometimes people may have a level of insecurity in utilizing Sommelier services while out dining, it’s important to remember that sommeliers are there because they love helping people with wine.
Most sommeliers train for years, perfecting their craft as they explore wine culture. Master Sommeliers (there are 135 of them in North America) are even able to identify a glass of wine down to the vineyard and vintage. In a restaurant, the sommelier is in charge of wine procurement, storage, cellar rotation and, most importantly, providing expert service to wine customers.
Their main goal is to make you feel comfortable with any and all wine inquiries, not to show off their knowledge, which, rest assured, is immense. So go ahead, ask your sommelier to describe what “dry” actually means. Ask what flavors you’re tasting, which aromas you’re smelling. Ask why California Chardonnays taste different than other Chardonnays. You might just find out that the sommelier is the best-kept secret you forgot you knew.