to top

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...

Continue reading

One Million of You, Tasting Wine

Pam Dillon, Co-Founder, Wine Ring Remember when you first started tasting wine? I mean really taste. When instinctively you knew how much acidity or tannin a wine had. When you could taste the nature of the fruit. When finally, you could sense where the grapes were grown. [eltdf_blockquote text="Now imagine one million of you, tasting wine." title_tag="h2" width=""]   There are about a million wines in the world. No matter how many wines you taste every year, it’s not possible to taste each one. What if you could use your phone to taste a million wines? Turns out you can, more or less.   People and machines have begun to evolve together, and the future belongs to those who combine human expertise with the power of technology. Wine experts, especially sommeliers, will become ever more valuable in this brave, new world.   No longer is artificial intelligence or machine learning considered the province of academics. Soon every technology...

Continue reading

Of Tropes and Traps

Our Los Angeles Panel Lays the Groundwork for - and Discovers the Pitfalls - of Blind Tasting   [caption id="attachment_889" align="alignnone" width="2000"] The lineup for our first Blind Side tasting included wines from Rioja, Napa Valley, Collio, Valle de Uco, Sonoma and Chinon.[/caption] Story and Photos by Karen Moneymaker With so much emphasis being placed on sommeliers today for testing and structured tasting, The Somm Journal decided to roll up our shirtsleeves and dive into the world of blind tasting, pairing two sommeliers from our team—Allyson Gorsuch, Deputy Editor and Advanced Sommelier, and Karen Moneymaker, Senior Editor and Certified Sommelier—with Master Sommelier Christopher Miller and Advanced Sommelier Eduardo Bolaños. Guided and grilled by the erudite Christopher Miller, MS, here is what we unearthed in our first tasting. Be careful about ambiguous terms: It is fun to get creative with descriptors when tasting, but be careful of terms that might mean one thing to you and something...

Continue reading

Are Short Wine Lists Truly Back in Style?

Randy Caparoso, The Somm Journal “Water, water, everywhere,” wrote Coleridge, “nor any drop to drink.” That’s how I’ve always felt about the palatability of big wine lists—in my book, anything over 150 selections. Way back in the late 1970s I read about Kevin Zraly, who said, “Eighty percent of our wine sales always came from about 40 wines . . . the other 800 to 1,200 wines on our wine lists [at New York’s legendary Windows on the World] were no more than window dressing.” As a young sommelier I took that to heart. In fact, inspired by Michelin-starred French chefs who hand-wrote their dinner menus each day, for a short time in the early ‘80s I tried writing out (and photo-copying on parchment) 50- to 60-selection wine lists—until computers came along, at which point it became even easier to bang out our short wine lists, several times a day if we wanted. Freedom! [eltdf_blockquote...

Continue reading