We already know Miami is a hot zone for craft cocktails and beer. Know what else is happening? The wine scene! Follow along as I kick off this new blog section featuring some of South Florida’s buzziest
movers and shakers swirlers, sniffers, and tasters.
Bookmark this page and check back often for updates.
These somms are on fire!
Beverage Manager at Upland: Starr Restaurant Group
Former Beverage Manager at La Centrale, Bazaar Mar by Jose Andres, and Consultant, and CEO at Bourbondy Beverages
Born and raised in Miami, with Spaniard and Austrian parents, meant wine was always present in her life, at every meal. She often tasted during her summer-long visits to Spain, even at a young age: a somm in the making if I ever saw one.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? Meeting new people and helping our guests select the perfect cocktail or wine that suits their tastes.
Any industry pet peeves? In Miami, it’s hard to find staff who cares as much as you do. Skipping steps of service is probably my biggest pet peeve in restaurants. One of my basic rules of thumb is that everyone that sits at the bar should get a glass of water, and water should be refilled when it’s reached about a third of the glass. When that’s not done, it drives me bonkers. Also, ‘crossing the guest’ with your arm- pouring wine or dropping a dish with your elbow in the guests’ face. It makes me cringe just thinking about it.
What sparked your interest in wine? I had the opportunity to taste a lot of wine with a restaurant sommelier when I was a young server. I started understanding the complex aromas in wines, and many of them were very easy for me to recognize. I realized I was pretty good at tasting wine, so I started studying it, and it soon became my passion.
What certification/education do you have as a sommelier? Certified through the Court of Master Sommeliers, hoping to sit for the Advanced test in 2019.
What does it take to learn to sniff and taste wine properly? I have always had a strong sense of smell and am the type of person to walk into a place and say “It smells like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney World” or “It smells like Abuela’s Bodega.” After reading multiple books explaining typical smells of a particular grape, I was able to pick up on those smells while blind tasting. It’s important to never stop studying or tasting. Different grapes have different styles around the world, so it’s also helpful to stay up-to-date on new producer styles and up-and-coming regions. It’s a happy blend of studying and tasting.
What is a common wine myth you’d like dispelled? That describing a wine as ‘fruit-forward’ doesn’t necessarily mean it’s sweet!
Where would you steer a person wanting to learn more about wine? In Miami: La Centrale, Uvaggio, and the Florida Wine Academy. If you’re a bookworm, I love “Windows on the World Complete Wine Course” By Kevin Zraly- it’s easy to read and does an exceptional job of mapping wine areas in an approachable way.
What is a good starter wine? Oregon Pinot Noir: Ponzi ‘Aurora’ Pinot Noir, Chehalem Mountains AVA—I’m partial to this wine because I was a proud part of their team for the 2015 vintage. The wine is generous with fruit reminiscent of black plums, sassafras, and dark cocoa. It’s beautifully balanced and a real treat. Other hits for Oregon include Raj Parr’s Evening Land Pinots which are becoming more and more Burgundian with each vintage and Beaux Freres from Ribbon Ridge. All extremely elegant wines.
California Pinot Noir: I’ve been loving Sonoma Coast lately, in particular, the elegance of Hirsch Vineyards San Andreas Fault Pinot Noir. Some safe and delicious bets would include Kistler Vineyards and Marcassin Pinot Noir as well. If you know someone, it’s worth trying Sea Smoke from Sta. Rita Hills. California is easy to explore and styles vary wildly from producer to producer.
For Riesling: go with some easy-drinking, high-acid, good-for-all-food wines. There’s a common misconception that all German Rieslings are sweet. Step away from expectations with Von Winning’s Estate Trocken Riesling (‘trocken’ means ‘dry’) or wines from Dautel. I love Grosses Gewachs wines, which are the German equivalent to a Grand Cru. In particular, I love Weingut Dautel’s Bonnigheimer Steingruben Riesling Grosses Gewachs. These high acid, aromatic wines can be long-lived if stored properly and pair beautifully with all styles of food, but I particularly love them with spicy Thai or Indian cuisines.
How do you feel about the current Miami wine scene overall? The Miami Wine scene is full of awesome and passionate somms, but there’s always room to grow!
What do you wish every diner knew when ordering wine at a restaurant? We Somms love talking to you and finding the perfect bottle for you! Ask for us! We promise we won’t just try to sell the most expensive bottle on the list. We are there for you.
What wine trend do you think needs to go away? Wine in a can. I’m not saying it’s all bad, but a lot of it is and why not just buy yourself a half-bottle? There’s more wine in a half-bottle, and it’s usually better quality. Win-win.
Where do you see yourself in five years? As a successful Beverage Guru, Writer, and Educator. I’ll continue to consult for projects I have been working on and do everything in my power to ensure my students’ and clients’ success.
What would customers be surprised to learn about you? I got a pretty decent score on the PCAT (Pharmacy College Admission Test), and I love science. Wine, alcohol, sourdough, kombucha, miso, kimchee, sauerkraut, natto– you name it, I love it. Fermentation is my favorite! I also learned how to burp the ABC’s when I was seven years old, and it remains to this day one of my greatest talents.