The Whet Palette

Food. Wine. Travel. Life.

SOMM LIKE IT HOT: Featuring Amanda Joffee

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 continue 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.

Meet Miami born and raised Amanda Joffee.

img_8266Manager of Training and Development
Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits

Previous notable position: Sommelier at Uvaggio Wine Bar in Coral Gables.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most rewarding part of my job is sharing my passion for wine with others. It’s a great feeling to introduce a wine to a guest or colleague that they can get excited about. 

Any industry pet peeves? An industry pet peeve would be people who are too quick to write off a grape varietal or wine region without exploring enough. There are endless options and styles out there. Don’t be so quick to judge!

What sparked your interest in wine? I was a student at the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University. I enjoyed working in restaurants, but was unsure what facet of the industry I wanted to start a career in. I decided to take an elective wine course with Chip Cassidy and Bill Hebrank and I was hooked. Their enthusiasm for wine was contagious. 

What certification/education do you have as a sommelier? Court of Master Sommeliers Certified Sommelier and Wine and Spirit Education Trust Level 2 Award in Wine and Spirits

What does it take to learn to sniff and taste wine properly? To sniff and taste wine properly it took a lot of to studying and sipping. My mentor, Heath Porter, always emphasized the importance of researching. In order to taste professionally, you need to have a good understanding of where the wine is from. All the elements including the climate, grape varietal, geography, history, and winemaker play an integral part in how the wine will taste and smell. It is important to be open-minded, explore new regions, and taste a variety of producers to start creating mental benchmarks of wines to compare to. This makes it easier to recommend wine and food pairings and better understand what wine experience a guest is looking for.

What is a common wine myth you’d like dispelled? The perception that sweet wines are for beginners or are not high quality. There are so sweet wines from all over the world that are age-worthy and incredible!

Where would you steer a person wanting to learn more about wine? Alessandra Esteves at Florida Wine Academy and Lyn Farmer are great wine educators that offer courses for all levels of knowledge. I also recommend stopping by local businesses like Uvaggio Wine Bar and Wolfes Wine Shoppe in Coral Gables to taste some great wines. If you want to learn about wine and go on a sick vacation then go on a Heathen Wine Tour with Heath Porter!  

What is a good starter wine? A good starter wine is a red blend from the Cote Du Rhone region in France. The wines are juicy, spicy, food-friendly, and great value. 

How do you feel about the current Miami wine scene overall? Miami is definitely more of a cocktail city, but the wine scene is slowly expanding. There are so many places to hang out and get a great glass of wine. I have stumbled upon more restaurants and bars in Miami with creative and original wine offerings! Some of my favorite Miami wine stops are Amara at Paraiso, El Carajo, Lagniappe, NIU Kitchen, MacchialinaStanzione 87, and Uvaggio.

What do you wish every diner knew when ordering wine at a restaurant? The more you communicate, the better we can assist you with a recommendation! No reason to be shy. We want to make sure you find a wine that makes you happy. 

img_2828What wine trend do you think needs to go away? A wine trend that I think needs to go way is elaborate/expensive wine aerators. I think it is nicer to see a wine open up slowly over time in my wine glass. Some of the gadgets are getting a little out of hand.

What is on its way to becoming a trend in 2019? The amount of wine brands you will see in alternative packagings like wine kegs, cans, and boxes will definitely increase! I also have seen more interest in wines with a lower alcohol content. Wines that are refreshing, spritzy, and easier to drink multiple glasses of during a meal or outing.

How do you feel about films like SOMM 3 and their influence on increasing the number of those seeking to become certified? It is awesome to see the industry growing and changing. I love seeing more interest in wine! I think it is important that those who are in interested in wine certifications remember to stay focused on creating a fun and memorable experience for guests. An important part of the role of a ‘sommelier’ in a restaurant is to be on floor communicating with guests and providing excellent service. The less intimidating we can make the wining and dining experience the better. Hospitality! 
Where do you see yourself in five years? I see myself working still in the wine and spirits industry. Hopefully, I will have more wine trips and experiences under my belt.

What would customers be surprised to learn about you? That Coca Cola and great Mexican food is my favorite pairing.

Anything else you feel is important to add? Go out there and explore local wine tastings, wine shops, and restaurants. Get out of your wine/cocktail comfort zone and try something new!


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