SOMM LIKE IT HOT: Alessandra Esteves

Clean wine, Keto wine, Diet wine. These marketing-oriented products are fooling and misguiding consumers, and it needs to be addressed.

While attending a summer program at Perugia University at age 19, this somm extraordinaire initially fell in love with Italian wine and culture. Before she took the leap into a successful full-time wine lifestyle, she worked for ten years as a corporate attorney, wrote about wine, and hosted a successful podcast named Dama do Vinho. Once she finished her WSET Diploma Level 4, she decided to start Florida Wine Academy and also recently opened 305 Wines. Cheers to that! There’s never a dull moment with this wine pioneer. She is one deserving of our support, South Florida!

Meet, the very talented, Alessandra Esteves.

Florida Wine Academy and 305 Wines

Owner and Director of Wine Education

Where were you born? São Paulo, Brazil

What sparked your interest in wine? My husband and I lived for 4 years in Europe (Germany and Switzerland) and traveled extensively while living there. Wine is liquid food, part of the culture, so we drank a lot of good wines and visited many wine regions.

What certification/education do you have as a sommelier? WSET Level 4 Diploma, FWS, CSW, Master of Rioja, Champagne Master Level, and currently a Master of Wine candidate.

Briefly walk us through, in your experience, what it took to learn to sniff and taste wine properly. It took many years and practice. It does not come in a week, but it comes when you taste wine purposefully. Look for the aromas and flavors, let the wine speak to you.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? Teaching all levels and guiding people to discover this immense world of wine!

Industry pet peeves Can discrimination be a pet peeve? The industry is still very white male dominant, and 2020 brought us the chance to talk about this and to make the industry more diverse.

What is a common wine myth you’d like dispelled? Sulfites give you a headache. Dehydration gives you a headache, drink more water when enjoying wine.

Do you feel strongly about natural corks? Do synthetic and screw caps merit the same respect? Do you believe they yield the same outcome? Yes, I am a fan of the screw cap. Technology has advanced immensely, and wines can now age. I am a fan of boxed wine, canned wine, screw cap, glass closures, cork for high-end bottles of wine. Each wine has its purpose and time to be enjoyed.

Where would you steer a person wanting to learn more about wine? Read books, and join a wine course at Florida Wine Academy. We have basic courses and advanced courses, and fun activities like Miami Champagne Week and VinoSummit, the first wine conference in the SE United States.

What is a good starter wine? I think comparing and contrasting is a great way of learning about wine. Get a Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc, see the differences and similarities. Do the same with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

List your top favorite wine books, movies, and documentaries, and which do you recommend for beginners? Books: Oxford Companion to Wine, Wine Bible. Movies/Documentaries: Sour Grapes, Somm Movie, A Year in Champagne, A Year in Burgundy.

How do you feel about documentaries such as the Somm series driving up the interest in certifications? I am a big fan of the series, and I think the more people know about wine, the better for the industry.

How do you feel about the current Miami wine scene overall? It is exciting! So many qualified people writing about wine, teaching about wine, and designing wine lists at restaurants.

What do you wish every diner knew when ordering wine at a restaurant? That it is OK to ask for help and that they can order wines from different grapes and regions.

How do you feel about corkage fees at restaurants? Restaurants have to offer the glassware, clean them, polish them, deal with breakage, so they definitely have to charge a corkage fee. I think it is fair, but it depends on the fee.

What wine trend do you think needs to go away? Clean wine, Keto wine, Diet wine. These marketing-oriented products are fooling and misguiding consumers, and it needs to be addressed.

What trend can you predict for 2021? Oh wow, if this question was asked in January 2020, I would say that the market was booming, and we would see more curiosity from consumers. In a Covid-19 world, we see people shopping for more affordable wines and being more careful when selecting regions and grapes. The interest for natural wines is growing as well as wine in cans, especially during summertime. Also, rosé is here to stay. With so many options and styles, it makes for a great pairing too and cuisine.

How do you feel about orange wine? I love it, think they are fun, but not for every taste. We carry two brands at 305wines.com and they are delicious.

How does Miami as a whole fare in wine knowledge when compared to other cities such as New York, Chicago, or San Francisco? I am a positive person, so I would say that we are better now than 4 years ago, and we are getting there.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Hopefully, I would have finished my Masters of Wine and will continue to teach in Miami.

What would we be surprised to learn about you? That I was a swimmer during high school and that winning/losing at competitions has helped me control my emotions during wine exams.

Florida Wine Academy

305 Wines

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