I’m on a flight back to Los Angeles. Despite the lack of leg room and rhythmic thudding of a toddler whacking his foot into the back of my seat, I am enthralled. Enraptured even. I peer into the blue light of my iPad as the movie Paris Can Wait dances across the screen. There are vast country landscapes, delectable picnic baskets, and most importantly… wine. Oh how I love the feeling I get when the suave protagonist waxes poetically about the intricacies of each wine and the stories they tell. By the time the plane touches down I know I have to be, must be, a sommelier.
One month later I take my Level 1 Introductory course through the Court of Master Sommeliers. The following March I pass my Level 2 Certified Sommelier Exam and am working at 71 Above in downtown Los Angeles. It is a beautiful fine dining restaurant where I learn about wine pairings for our multi-course menu. In between serving powerful Napa Valley cabernet sauvignons and delicate Sonoma pinot noirs, I realize there is so much to learn, like the minimum height a vine can grow in Barolo (it’s 550 ft), causing my nerd brain to flex its muscles like a kettlebell enthusiast about to run a tough mudder. What excites me the most, however, is how many varieties can spawn from one simple vitis vinifera plant. (That’s a fancy word for grape vine. I know. My profession can be pretentious.) There are over 900 varieties in Italy alone! I could study a whole lifetime and never know it all, could never taste it all. But I could try.
And that, my dear reader, is the purpose of this blog. Through my profession I’ve tasted many chardonnays, pinot grigios, and cabernets. You will not see those here. The Robert Parker’s of the world already have them covered. My aim is to seek out, taste, and pair the weirdest of the weird, the rarest of the rare. I do this not only to expand my own knowledge, a fun at home science experiment so to speak, but hopefully yours as well. I want to bring a sense of place to life through wine experiences and help guide you to ways you can do the same.
So please, fellow wine geeks and enthusiasts (even if you know nothing about wine!), do me the honor of accompanying me on this adventure. Follow me… off the beaten wine path.