The Whet Palette

Food. Wine. Travel. Life.

SOMM LIKE IT HOT: Featuring Rachel B. Coddington

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: Rachel Barowsky Coddington of Terroir Selections

Title: Fine Wines Sales Consultant

Previous notable position: Sommelier at the Versace Mansion and Zuma. Managed Abaco Wines and Wine Bar in the Design District.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? Introducing wine lovers to new regions and wine varieties.

Any industry pet peeves? I have two: 1. Improper food and wine pairings such as sushi and California Cabernet. Wine and food should enhance each other and create a new experience. 2. When wine buyers rely solely on their customers to make the wine list. The list should have easily accessible wines for the everyday consumer. Part of the buyer’s job is to listen to what the customer wants and help them find something new and exciting that meets the flavor profile their customer is asking for, while at the same time opening their eyes to a new producer, grape, etc.

What sparked your interest in wine? I worked in restaurants as a server and bartender for years and found that I enjoyed all aspects of the industry, especially wine. I had a manager who was very passionate about wine and did a lot of staff training so we could speak with confidence about the wines we recommended. It was eye-opening.

What certification/education do you have as a sommelier? United States Sommelier Association Level 2

unnamed-3What does it take to learn to sniff and taste wine properly? When I started in wine classes I had no idea what I was smelling. It took a few days of intense 8-hour sessions to start to actually identify different nuances. My a-ha moment came via vintage champagne where I smelled hazelnuts and my teacher’s eyes lit up. From then on I learned just to trust my instincts. When starting out, or even as a refresher, it helps to taste in the deductive method. Take a class or attend wine tastings! Also, take a moment to pay attention to what you are drinking. It seems simple, but it helps!

What is a common wine myth you’d like dispelled? This isn’t a myth so much as a philosophy; as of now, there are no ingredients listed on a wine label. You would assume that just grapes go into your wine, but alas, you may be wrong. Companies add chemicals such as “mega purple” and use harmful pesticides. It’s not the sulfites that are giving you a headache.

Where would you steer a person wanting to learn more about wine? The next time you dine out, find a restaurant that does a wine pairing and order it! Someone has spent a lot of time choosing wines specifically for those courses. Let yourself be open to trying something new.

What is a good starter wine? I wouldn’t concentrate on a starter wine. I would concentrate more on a region or grape and stem from there. Pick a place in the world you have traveled and try wine from that area. There is no bad place to start.

How do you feel about the current Miami wine scene overall? It’s getting better and better. There are more restaurants with sommeliers than even a few years ago, which helps immensely. There are some true gems out there, but in South Florida we still have room for improvement.

How does Miami as a whole fare in wine knowledge when compared to other cities such as New York, Chicago, or San Francisco? New York, Chicago, and San Francisco are well-established cities while Miami is very much a city still in development. Although many people call Miami their permanent home, Miami is still a vacation city and one where many people have second homes. The food and wine scene is also up and coming. Although there are restaurants that have innovative wine programs, as a whole, there is still some room for growth.

What do you wish every diner knew when ordering wine at a restaurant? Decide what you are eating before you chose the wine and if you are unfamiliar with the list, ask your sommelier, or someone that knows the list and can steer you in the right direction for the best pairing. Someone carefully curated that list to ensure there is a match in different price points for every item on that menu! 

How do you feel about corkage fees at restaurants? YES! Someone at that restaurant is serving your wine, washing, and polishing your glasses. All of these things take time and manpower. Just remember, don’t bring a bottle that you can find on that restaurant’s wine list. When I bring wine to a restaurant it is something special, or a wine I know I can’t find on their list.

What wine trend do you think needs to go away? Blending Syrah with Pinot Noir. I don’t get it. 

What is on its way to becoming a trend? Natural Wine has been an upcoming trend for a long time and I hope this leads people to wine regions like Austria that have been practicing natural wine-making for centuries.

Where do you see yourself in five years? That’s a good question! I’ll let you know in five years.

What would customers be surprised to learn about you? I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. Maybe I’ll use that degree one day to open a restaurant, a wine bar, or a vintage clothing store. Possibly a combination of all three!  

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