Friday, December 2, 2011

Month 1

Well it has been one crazy month. It is true what they say though, sometimes it really is better to be just thrown into it. You either sink or you swim. Now I may have gone under once or twice but I think it is safe to say the hardest part of starting a new job is over.  I am swimming.
It's pretty intimidating for your first week as a Sommelier to be working alongside a James Beard award winning expert on cheese, but thankfully she was genuine and kind and really put me at ease and made my job easy. Of course the cheese week didn't go off without a couple of hiccups, I may have slightly over poured, got the blend incorrect in a Cabernet, and said a wine was from Oregon when actually it was from Washington. But better the guests find they have too much wine instead of not enough. Does it really matter if it 2% Cabernet Franc or 2%Merlot? and Columbia Valley AVA is in both Oregon and Washington, so really come on!
Then after that it was straight into the opening of my restaurant. Which brought it's own batch of problems and pleasures. Pleasure at getting to organize my own cellar, pain at not having enough fridge space. A problem I am sure many Sommeliers have encountered. Some of my bin #'s are ridiculously long for example BF2A4F. For anyone not in the industry reading this a bin # is a way to allocate a particular wines location, should a server need a wine and you are not there. The example I provided represents a wine that is in bar fridge 2 (I have 3 fridges so giving them numbers was the only way), It is on shelf A, which is the top shelf furthest to the left 4th bottle in and the final letter will either be a F or a B which means it is either at the back of the fridge or the front. I warned you it was ridiculously long and convoluted.
I am truly enjoying training the staff on the new wines. I think they really benefited from my tea training session which taught them about tannins. Brew tea for 3 minutes 6 minutes and 10 minutes and you will get a clearer picture of a light tannin wine, a medium tannin wine, and a strong tannin wine.  I also brought some fruit in so they could associate the fruit with the tasting descriptors, but that kinda fell flat. Hard to teach someone about cherry flavour when all you can get at the grocery store is dried cherries. It's just not quite the same. I still think it is a good idea in theory though.
The best part and the scariest part of my job though is actually going up to tables and talking about wine. I am gaining more confidence by the day but for the first few weeks I was content on just bringing people what they asked me for. Now I am truly trying to find the best wine for each person based on what they tell me they like. The job I found has many highs with the occasional low, just when you think your menu is perfect some new wine needs to be added or one needs to be taken off. Your wine glasses no matter how long you polish them for, always seem to have a spot. And at the end of the day no matter how happy you made a guest you need to have high sales to please the overlords. But I am really starting to get the hang of it all. The best part of my day is at the end when I get to go to my mentor's cellar and do blind tastings. I will be sharing my tasting notes with you on here so stay tuned for more wines, whines, and winnings.

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