Latest Writings: How To Get Into The Somm / Wine Sales Professions

Happy early fall! The best season of year, at least here in New York. I’m back from travels in Champagne and South Africa, and while the jet-lag is strong, I’m diving into my notes and getting to work on stories.

While I was away, my two-part series on wine industry jobs was published on VinePair: first, I wrote about how to become a sommelier, and next I profiled the wine sales profession. With the explosion of wine culture in our country, these jobs are only going to continue to grow, so hopefully the valuable advice that experienced somms + wine reps shared in these pieces will be helpful to aspirants.

You can read my story on what it takes to become a sommelier here, and about life as a wine sales rep here

Cheers!

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Latest Writings + Travels From Oregon + California

Finally, this hot, humid mess of a summer is nearing its end. Despite not having AC in my apartment, traveling excessively, breaking my laptop, and living out of suitcase across continents and coasts, I’ve had a very productive past few months, and I’m really excited about what the fall will bring. I know already that it will mean larger writing projects, travel to Champagne and South Africa, a food-and-drink crawl in L.A., and a new collaboration with a talented illustrator.

I’m still coming down from the high of a week in Napa and Sonoma during harvest. I’ve been in wine country during harvest before, but for some reason this trip was particularly enthralling. I think those California gold hills, with their rugged stature and sprawling woods, got into my soul a little. My heart was captured by the vineyards of Sonoma in particular, where the cool air kissed my skin and the sun warmed my back as I rode on a tractor through rows of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Gamay. 

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Before that, there was Oregon, where I spent a fascinating week visiting producers all over the state, leading up to the International Pinot Noir Celebration. I wrote about some exciting aspects of Oregon wine on Vine Pair, which you can read here; I also have a freshly published piece up on Vogue.com about the killer urban winery scene in Portland. Read that one here. I’m looking forward to writing some more detailed features on the bustling wine culture of Oregon, so be on the lookout for that in the near future.

Scholium Project bottles

As I go through my notes from Napa, Sonoma, and the Central Valley, where I spent a day helping the team at Scholium Project (read my 2015 profile of Abe Schoener here), I’m enthralled to know that American wine is so diverse, so forward-thinking in many aspects, and so, so delicious. And speaking of delicious, I should also mention that Food Republic published my round-up of San Francisco’s best new spots to eat and drink (based on research from an earlier trip), read that here.

Before I left California last week, I spent a day in San Francisco. Walking around the Mission, I came across the “Free Box” outside Dog Eared Books, and there was a copy of M.F.K. Fisher’s Gastronomical Me. How perfect, I thought, to have a collection of essays from one of our country’s pioneering literary food writers, to read on the plane back to New York. I opened it up and read the first sentence of the prologue: “People ask me: Why do you write about food, and eating and drinking? Why don’t you write about the struggle for power and security, and about love, the way others do?” 

I laughed and held the book to my chest, reassured to know that, back in the 40s, Fisher was grappling with the same question that often occupies me. I believe she wrote this forward in the middle of WWII, and while we aren’t in exactly that situation on a global scale, it’s unquestionable that conflict and suffering dominate great swaths of our planet, near and far. Knowing that so many issues in my city, our country, and this world are deserving of the power of the pen, I do sometimes wonder why I dedicate myself to writing about food and wine, something which seems on occasion quite petty, self-serving, and limited to a small, well-heeled population. But I knew right away where Fisher was going with that question. I think my answer, today, is not too different from hers: “There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk.” And I would add that it’s about beauty. If you’ve ever stood in a vineyard with the late afternoon sun setting over ripe grapes, as a farmer details each soil type on every hill on his property, and looked out onto the fog rolling in from the mountains, you’ll understand what I mean.

 

Meet Sauvage’s Chef, The Ambitious, Fiery, Producer-Obsessed Lisa Giffen

IMG_1511Greetings, and I hope your 4th of July weekend was filled with delicious food and wine! Just one update here: I’m sure some of you who live in New York have already checked out Sauvage, which opened recently in Greenpoint (if you haven’t, I recommend it!). I profiled the ambitious, young, producer-obsessed chef there, Lisa Giffen, for Food Republic. I really admire her forward-thinking approach to sourcing ingredients, as well as the way she takes inspiration from the restaurant design and bar program. Read here

Natural Wine on the Lower East Side / Aged Rosé

Double-header today!

On Food Republic, I have a story about the natural wine scene on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. A loooot of drinking research went into this! And I collaborated with Erika DaSilva, a talented illustrator who also works as the general manager at Wildair. Read here

In the August issue of Wine & Spirits, you can find my article on aged rosé wine; it’s also available online here. Once you’ve read it, you might start poking around for some back vintage bottles of pink wine! I highly recommend it!

New Website Feature: My Most Useful Articles For Learning Abt Wine + Restaurants

IMG_1402People ask me two things, quite often:

  1. What kind of wine should I drink?
  2. Where should I eat?

My answer, much of the time, to the first question is, “Whatever you want! But probably Chenin, or Gamay. . . ” (not very helpful) and for the second question I usually just start waxing poetic about the fried squid at Wildair. So, I thought I would try to make a section on my website that contains my most informative articles (listicles, usually) about eating and drinking. Although, for people wanting to learn about wine, my Eater column is pretty good, too, I would say.

Here is the new section. It is a work-in-progress. So is this website. I focus mostly on constructing actual sentences, and doing interviews with people, in my work as a journalist. I also try to get paid for my writing. Which means that my blog is not really much of a blog (although, lately, I’ve been posting about my visits to interesting natural winemakers, which is something I can’t really publish on a media site but I’m still motivated to share). And my website is not really much of a website. What can I say–I’m hopelessly analog. If anybody has suggestions for this site, I am all ears! I’m not all moneybags, though, so please don’t recommend your friend who charges $3K to design sites. Other ideas welcome.

The Best Neighborhood For Eating And Drinking Is Bushwick, Plus Other Latest Stories

The Scotch-egg rib-eye burger at Maite
The Scotch-egg rib-eye burger at Maite

Today, Food Republic published my story on the neighborhood of Bushwick, which has in recent months become a destination dining neighborhood thanks to new, cutting-edge restaurants with next-level food and drink.

Read it hereAll of the restaurants discussed are excellent and highly-recommended! I especially suggest cocktails at Syndicated, and the ridiculously good burger at Maite, shown at left.

Earlier this week, my story about improving your palate came out on Vogue.com; I learned a lot in the process of writing it and hope you will find some gems to help you become a better taster! Read here.

On my regular column at Vine Pair, I wrote about some interesting new wine tourism destinations–read here–and shared some expert secrets and hacks for pairing wine with food; read here.

Thanks, as always, for following my work!

 

Cassoulet Weather In Full Effect, Plus Where To Have A Great Lunch

IMG_7314It’s finally cold in NYC! In addition to writing about the City’s best hot chocolate (there are some seriously above-and-beyond cups of cocoa out there–article here), I recently spent a glorious day testing a recipe for Cassoulet, the iconic Southern French dish, which I wrote about for Vine Pair along with some reviews of wines from the Languedoc, one of France’s lesser-known (but very important and wonderful) wine regions. Check it out here(P.S. if any cookware brands would like to sponsor my future articles, I am officially accepting Dutch ovens, skillets, and, well, whatever else because I have basically nothing in my humble freelance writer slash single woman’s kitchen.)

Also, I’ve been working on a series about where to have lunch in New York City, for Gothamist. It’s specifically aimed at people who work full-time jobs, so it encompasses all kinds of lunch, from grab-and-go to sit-down to the infamous “power lunch.” Writing these round-ups has involved a lot of footwork, a few tasty meals, and many afternoons spent reading Yelp.

Measure_RachelSignerIf you want a laugh, please check out how the grumpy and indignant owner of Park Italian responds to bad Yelp reviews from his customers. Here are the latest few: Midtown West, Midtown East, and the Financial District (which I refuse to call “FiDi” of my own accord). If you know of great lunch spots in other neighborhoods, please send tips my way!

And if you missed it, my send-off to 2015 included a round-up of somms and beverage directors around the country sharing their best wine experiences of the year. Some pretty amazing stories came my way; check out the article here. Cheers to a fresh start for 2016.