So, I got to thinking (dangerous, I know) about this whole Sommelier thing…
In my journey to potentially becoming a Master Sommelier one day, there is one thing that every Master I’ve ever met has pounded into my thick skull: hospitality, especially in the restaurant setting, is a noble profession with potential for growth and can be a real career. Ron Edwards (MS and my mentor) was the only person in 20+ years who got through to me about the importance and meaning of the service profession. He got me to take it seriously and started me on a path to one day join him in the ranks of Master Sommelier.
It was amazing to realize how much I’ve come to care about this profession and guests’ experiences. My approach is to listen, read, and then guide a guest into a bottle that they can enjoy. It is not to talk over their head, prove how much I know, or try and sell them the most expensive bottle possible. I don’t know everything about wine, but I certainly do have a good understanding of it, and my 30 years of experience in this business has taught me about people and how to read them. I love when a guest tries something they’ve never had, and they walk away saying “I never would’ve ordered that if it wasn’t for that Sommelier.” Whether it’s $30 or $600, I want every guest to leave having had a great experience.
Even the amazing people I work with every day ask questions and want to know more. Whether it’s our night auditor, line cook or Marketing Director, I love being able to share what I know with people. They all end the day with a smile on their face because of a simple gesture of kindness. I approach guests the same way. If I can provide a service and they walk away feeling good about their experience, then I’ve done my job!
I wish I could get some anonymous feedback from guests – I’m always wondering what they truly think. What, in their eyes, is my role? What are the expectations of service? How was their experience – from start to finish – at Maynards? I want to know!
Send me your thoughts! If you ever have wine questions, are looking for advice, or just want to talk about wine, please stop in and say hello!
Will Olendorf, Maynards Market & Kitchen Sommelier
Here are my wine suggestions for this month:
Santorini, GR | ’17 | $57 | Grape: Assyrtiko
Santorini is a tiny island in the Aegean Sea. As you can imagine, it’s basically a rock, and that’s what the vines grow on. It does tend to get very windy, so the vines are trained to the ground like they’re in a basket. If they weren’t, they would suffer from a lot of wind damage. This wine has a great minerality and I believe a salinity from the exposure to sea air. The minerality gives it characteristics of Chardonnays from Burgundy as well. Think of a cross between Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Seafood of nearly any type goes well here – raw, cooked, whatever!
Poggio Ai Ginepri
Bolgheri, IT | ’15 | $39 | Grape: Vermentino Blend
I’ve been to this particular place, and it’s AMAZING! Maybe you’ve heard of Ornellia or Sassicaia? This property is to the southern edge of Bolgheri while the more famous vineyards are closer to the north. This property has 2500 acres that stretched from the seaside into the forested hills. This wine just screams under the Tuscan sun. It has both Vermentino and Sauvignon Blanc, and those vines are planted in the lower and more sun-exposed areas of this massive property. A beautiful golden color, bright acidity, and a smooth finish make up this wine that sees no oak.