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How To: Elevate Your Wine Program Without a Floor Somm

Jeff Josenhans | Certified Cicerone,® Certified Sommelier No floor somm? No problem. It is no secret that, in the modern restaurant world, a designated floor sommelier is a luxury. After 2008, the Restaurant Manager/Sommelier became commonplace. Those with a passion for the grape and vine became simultaneously responsible for payroll, service recoveries, scheduling, etc. Restaurants still recognize the value of having someone in the restaurant designated as the “wine expert,” but also need to cut their ever-rising labor costs. Proprietors must weigh what they feel is more important –a pastry chef, cicerone, mixologist, or sommelier. At times they have to pick one, or create a hybrid position. However, managing people is a very different ballgame. So how does one balance learning management skills while furthering their sommelier career at the same time? Well, hopefully, they have picked up some server and inter-personal skills prior to taking the exam and getting the post, but...

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Failure: The “F Word” No One Talks About

Lisa Redwine, Advanced Sommelier Just recently, I had the honor of sitting for the Court of Master Theory exam in San Francisco. Some might say it did not go well…. truth be told… I failed. Well; I didn’t pass. In my eyes those are two different situations. With the evolution and the availability of wine certifications available to wine professionals, the opportunity to take an exam is plentiful. I often hear the concerns about taking the exam and the possibility of not passing from WSET, CMS, and a plethora of others. I cannot speak to anyone else’s experience, only my own, and my thoughts about failing this exam that I hope to convey. It had been FOUR years since I had seriously studied, and in my personal life, I was handling an incredibly difficult situation that truly was all consuming; financially, intellectually and emotionally. At the beginning of my study path for...

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Getting Centered: Preparing for Somm Journal’s Central European Wine Panel

By Jessie Birschbach, Certified Sommelier, Wine Editor, Somm Journal Magazine The offices of Somm Journal/Tasting Panel/Clever Root magazines are located at the foot of an affluent suburban neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. Often my colleague Allyson and I will stroll among this mix of old, beautiful Ranch-style homes and the occasional flashy McMansion just to get some fresh air and catch up on our social lives. Even though the intention is to take a break from grapes the conversation will inevitably land somewhere in the world of wine. On one of these recent turns gabbing about my up-and-coming vacation sailing along the Croatian coast I paused, suddenly realizing my lack of knowledge regarding Croatian wines. After a confession however my shame was quelled hearing Allyson’s similar disclosure; excepting the one native variety that we both exclaimed in unison (but pronounced slightly differently) — “Plavac Mali!” Yet the tide...

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Don’t be a Samelier

Maurice DiMarino | Certified Sommelier and Certified Cicerone The beverage industry has changed dramatically and gets more complex each year. Sommeliers who went through testing 20 years ago had a very different experience than those testing today. It has forced young sommeliers to look past France and Italy and discover wines from Croatia, Brazil, and other non-traditional regions. Many sommeliers are up for the challenge and build programs that stand out from the rest. Others are not up for the challenge, and I call these somms sameliers.   In addition to not adapting to changes within the wine industry, sameliers have not adapted to the fact that wine now shares the dinner table with spirits and beer. I hear more guests asking questions about the milk punch or the hops used rather than the grape. Many more people are enjoying a cocktail or craft beer with their meals rather than a glass...

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How to Revive a Failing Wine Placement

Will Costello, Master Sommelier What is the best practice when a “sure thing” turns out to be a “disappointment” on your wine list or by the glass? That amazing Côt you knew would succeed as the perfect Malbec replacement. The Malagousia that works perfectly with the crudo Chef just prepared is being poured down the drain more than in glasses. The small grower-producer champagne you curated is left deflated. How can you revive an obviously amazing wine choice which is being overlooked by all of your guests? When I am stuck in this situation, I always do my best to recognize the problem from its roots and find a meaningful solution; one which will see an amazing wine shine on your list and end in a profit and not an upset. On initial thought, training may be a great way to solve the conundrum of a slower moving product. Pour a bit at...

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