SOMM LIKE IT HOT: Featuring Jacqueline Coleman

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 blog section featuring some of South Florida’s buzziest swirlers, sniffers, and tasters.

Meet Miami born and raised Jacqueline Coleman

Freelance wine writer, judge & consultant

Business copywriting and digital marketing.

Current contributor: Biscayne Times Newspaper, South Florida Luxury Guide, Winetraveler.com

Past contributor: Coravin blog, Let’s Eat Magazine, The Vintner Project, Thrillist, MIABites, & Miami Girl Magazine

Guest co-host on Linda Gassenheimer’s weekly WDNA 88.9FM radio show, “Food, News, & Views” discussing wine and beverages

What sparked your interest in wine? There are two parts to this story. I originally got into wine while living in Arlington, VA outside of Washington, D.C. about 10 years ago. At the suggestion of my father, I joined the Wall Street Journal Discovery Wine Club and received a shipment of premium wines every quarter. Within the shipment, they send you tasting notes, so I began reading the more technical information about each bottle. This inspired my interest in learning more about wine beyond just how the wine tasted to me.

At the same time, I would spend some of my weekends exploring Virginia wine country in Northern Virginia outside of D.C. I got to know some of the winemakers, and I learned the history about the area. I was hooked! (on the wine & the history!) So, I started my blog, “History & Wine” in 2012.

Since then, I have earned my sommelier certificate through the U.S. Sommelier Association and other educational certificates from various educational organizations such as the International Sommelier Guild and FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management wine program. Additionally, I worked for a short time selling wine for a small distributor, and I’ve continued to write in a professional capacity for several publications while also consulting on wine-related events and dinners.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? I love educating people about wine and telling the stories behind the bottle. I got into wine largely because of stories— the history. I’m also a writer by trade, so my job is to educate and communicate. When I bring my passion for wine into words, I love hearing the feedback that someone enjoyed learning something about that producer or grape.

Additionally, when I’m hosting wine dinners and tastings and I’m able to educate consumers on what makes a certain wine special or why that bottle pairs with that dish, and people are enjoying themselves—that is rewarding.

Industry pet peeves Wine snobs. It’s impossible to know everything about wine. Relax, enjoy. Learn something from someone else! It isn’t a competition to know more than the guy next to you. Wine is about sharing, and that goes for knowledge too.

What certification/education do you have as a sommelier? Sommelier Certificate from the U.S. Sommelier Association, Business of Wine Certificate through FIU, Intermediate Wine Certificate through the International Sommelier Guild, numerous masterclasses in various topics.

LIFE–wine is a lot about learning as you go—tasting, traveling. I’ve learned more on some of my wine trips than I would ever understand by just sitting in a classroom.

DSC_0348What does it take to learn to sniff and taste wine properly? It is helpful to have the leadership of someone more experienced in a classroom setting to learn the basics of tasting like a pro. You definitely need a foundation. I’m still learning with every single wine I taste—new flavors and aromas. It’s like a game! This is a skill that I’m constantly refining through practice, and you have to taste and taste more if you want to do it well.

What is a common wine myth you’d like dispelled? The idea that sulfites are bad and many people have allergies to them. Yes, some people do, but it’s a small percentage. That headache you have the next day after drinking wine is likely due to the amount of alcohol you drank compared with the lack of water. Hydration is key! So is moderation. Sulfites help to preserve the wine’s freshness & keep it from oxidizing. It’s OK that your wine has sulfites.

Where would you steer a person wanting to learn more about wine? Oh man, there are so many great educational programs out there. I’ve enjoyed the courses that I’ve taken over the years. However, if I had to pick one place currently in Miami, hands down—Florida Wine Academy! Wonderful wine masterclasses and certifications available there. I have loved all the educational programs I’ve attended with them. I HIGHLY recommend taking classes there, for any level of wine lover. Alessandra Esteves and her highly educated team are some of the top wine educators right here in Downtown Miami. We’re lucky to have an institution like that here.

What is a good starter wine? Join a discovery-type wine club. We have a couple here locally now through 305wines.com and Vinyawine.com. The Wall Street Journal Discovery Club is great too, but I like the idea of supporting a local wine club (now that we have them!).

How do you feel about the current Miami wine scene overall? I actually wrote an article about this a couple of years ago. Miami is still in its adolescence in a lot of ways (I can say that having over 30 years of experience in this city). That goes for wine too. There are some amazing wine folks here in Miami, and the wine culture is definitely changing for the better, but it’s still primarily a cocktail town, and we have a long way to go to have a bigger/more advanced wine scene. Right now, it’s a lot about labels –which bottle do I want to be seen with? Whereas, I’d like to see how we can mature into a city where people are asking for a new, unique wine they’ve never tried. I’d like to see more adventurous wine drinkers out there in the 305. 

How does Miami as a whole fare in wine knowledge when compared to other cities such as New York, Chicago, or San Francisco? Miami has a LONG way to go—in general. But it’s great that there are some wonderful wine people here spreading wine knowledge in the community.

How do you feel about documentaries such as the Somm series driving up the interest in certifications? I think the movement to certifications is very interesting, especially because most of it is hobby or interest-driven and not necessarily career-driven. Documentaries like the Somm series stress me out—maybe a little too close to home.

What do you wish every diner knew when ordering wine at a restaurant? Don’t be afraid to ask the somm or your server for a recommendation. Also, don’t be afraid to try something different!

How do you feel about corkage fees at restaurants? This is tough, because I get it from a business perspective, but I wish the fees were lower as a customer. I do wish I could save more money by bringing my own premium bottle, but I totally get why corkage fees exist. Maybe a happy medium would be if more restaurants offered “free corkage” nights on slower nights. I’d dine out more on a Monday if I could bring my favorite bottle and save a few bucks.

What wine trend do you think needs to go away? Trends in the industry come and go. If there’s something that bothers me, I stay away from it, and the ebbs and flows take care of it eventually.

What is on its way to becoming a trend? I’ve been seeing more and more canned wines out there, so that will probably continue to increase in popularity. Also, I’m curious to see how the cannabis industry and the wine industry end up working together, or maybe they don’t. I think we’ve all been hearing the buzz about CBD in the wine & spirits world, so stay tuned for that!

DSC_0370-2How do you feel about orange wine? I think it’s interesting. I’d like to try more of it, but I don’t think that it’s going to become my favorite style.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Obviously drinking wine somewhere! I hope that my writing opportunities expand. I’d like to grow my audience through writing for the right publications on a larger scale. I’ve been so lucky here in South Florida. I love writing my monthly Vino column in Biscayne Times newspaper. I believe that I’m the only wine writer here locally who has a regular column in a local publication. I also love writing for Let’s Eat magazine in the Gables, for South Florida Luxury Guide magazine, and for Winetraveler.com. These are all such wonderful publications that I’m honored to contribute to. I hope to build on that.  

What would customers be surprised to learn about you? In my early wine-drinking days, I hated Champagne. I was WRONG. I’ll admit I WAS WRONG. Champagne is amazing! So sorry, Champagne.

Anything else you’d like to add? Don’t be afraid of trying wine from lesser known regions. Be adventurous with your wine drinking! And share your recommendations with me when you find a unique bottle. 

Also, shop local! Buy wine from local wine shops like Abaco Wines & Wine Bar in Design District, Happy Wine on Calle Ocho, and 305wines.com. Talk to your local experts about their favorites. We don’t have a wine country here in South Florida, but we do have wine-related small businesses, educators, and writers who are local. Let’s work together to make Miami’s wine scene a bigger, better thing, but that means we have to support each other!

The idea that sulfites are bad and many people have allergies to them. Yes, some people do, but it’s a small percentage. That headache you have the next day after drinking wine is likely due to the amount of alcohol you drank compared with the lack of water. Hydration is key! So is moderation. Sulfites help to preserve the wine’s freshness & keep it from oxidizing. It’s OK that your wine has sulfites.”


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