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 swirlers, sniffers, and tasters.
Meet: Daniel Toral Sales Consultant for Florida Wine Company
Daniel was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, but moved to upstate New York for school when he was 18. While in culinary school, during a tasting with Jean Trimbach, a lineup of Alsatian rich dry rieslings initially piqued his interest in wine.
Previous notable position: 50 Eggs, The Setai, Sustain Restaurant, and Fratelli Lyon.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? Presenting new wines, opening the gates to new flavors to someone during dinner.
Any industry pet peeves? So many! When servers pick up the water glass from the table to pour water has to be one of the biggest, but also pretentious service, wine lists that are overpriced, and inconsistent menus. This list can go on for pages.
What do you define as pretentious service? When a server or sommelier starts preaching about something they just learned without any backing, or when they just start trying to “educate” a guest without reading the table, assuming they don’t know anything.
What attracts you to wine? The history and culture attached to one single glass of wine, how you can be transported to a specific place and time by uncorking a bottle of wine.
What certification/education do you have as a sommelier? Advanced Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers
What does it take to learn to sniff and taste wine properly? It is a very personal process, for me it all made sense when I started tying childhood memories to wine tasting. Identifying the scents of the kitchen, my grandma’s cooking and learning how to cook really made a difference for me.
What is a common wine myth you’d like dispelled? Good wine is always expensive; there is good wine made at all price points!
Where would you steer a person wanting to learn more about wine? I encourage them to take one of the WSET classes, to never drink the same bottle twice, and to look for books that inspire you to keep learning.
What is a good starter wine? I feel starting with German rieslings is a great way to ease into it.
How do you feel about the current Miami wine scene overall? The wine scene is very small here, it is getting more diverse, and younger people have a lot more to say than before.
How does Miami as a whole fare in wine knowledge when compared to other cities such as New York, Chicago, or San Francisco? We are a little behind in knowledge compared to the larger cities. We need to push for more education in general.
What do you wish every diner knew when ordering wine at a restaurant? I wish everyone knew how to express what they like to drink without referring to sweetness. “Sweet red wine” is not really a thing, unless you are ordering port.
How do you feel about corkage fees at restaurants? I feel it is necessary to have a corkage fee in all restaurants, with the high cost of rent and offering a living wage to the staff, making a profit in a restaurant has become increasingly hard.
What wine trend do you think needs to go away? The whole thing about natural wine.
What is on its way to becoming a trend? Good quality canned wine is getting bigger, there are more options and styles available.
Wait, there IS such a thing as good quality canned wine? I think it’s the better option for a single serving. There is a lot of crap out there, but a few quality ones worth buying.
How do you feel about films like SOMM 3 and their influence on increasing the number of those seeking to become certified? I think it’s great that more people are interested in certifications and education, but experience on the floor or selling wine is invaluable and these certifications don’t teach that.
How do you feel about orange wine? Orange wine has its place, but in my opinion, it needs to be served with the right foods. It is not a sipping wine.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Living in a remote island, drinking chablis and eating seafood straight from the ocean. Just kidding. I wish I knew.
What would customers be surprised to learn about you? I love to cook and entertain at home, but I don’t think this is shocking or surprising.