Name: Crystal Krieger
At the moment: USA-Virginia
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Any particular mentors at that time?
My first wine experience was at The Ritz Carlton in Naples, Florida. I had been around wine at The Greenbrier Resort. I really didn’t have any knowledge of great wine until I worked at The Grill Room in Naples. I always admired our Sommelier Jason Saunders. He was smooth at the table. He was willing to reach out and teach people his gifts. Those are the best Sommeliers. The people who are willing to help you.
What would be your advice to a young Sommelier(e) i.e. Commis Sommelier(e) where to look finding an adequate position at home or abroad? Any further tips?
Young Sommeliers should not waste any time. They should be looking for people that will lead them to become the best in the industry. In other words, you need to do your research. You should find the best places to work and best program. I believe young or new Sommeliers should look at Five Star Properties or Michelin Star properties. It gives you the grace on the floor. Also, new Sommeliers need to work at a serious restaurants in a large city. It would be great to gain knowledge by attending a tasting or study group.
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what’s in your opinion would be the best approach?
If I get asked about a wine selection from a guest, I try to find out if I am giving them what they really want. It is hard to step back and think this is not for me. You should ask their menu selections for the evening. Then, I try to find out exactly their preference at home. I start to find out a price range by giving them a few options.
What’s your philosophy about glasses? Are you working with well known brands or are you considering new brands as well and how do you determine?
Nice polished glasses are essential. We all want Riedel’s on the table or higher quality. I like Schott Zwiesel. I think these are the best 2 brands on the market.
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
I believe when you pair food and wine. Sommeliers need to look at all of the components of the dish. If you are new at wine pairing, many books are on the market to assist you. It is great to always start looking at your list and planning your suggestions. You should always taste specials and try them with the wine before service if you have a chance.
What are the key ingredients for creating a wine list for a restaurant and what is your opinion on some ridiculous pricing on wine in restaurants, do you have tips on how to determine markups?
I think if you are creating a wine list. You need to think about pairing the wines with the food. It is essential to have your wine list match your food. We all want to just choose wines we love but it needs to match the cuisine. It is not always about what you like it is what the guest likes at the end of the day.
People should not mark the wine up so high that people can’t afford it. Many people are now going to wine stores. They know when you are overpricing your wines. It will make you go out of business when someone else decides to sell the wine correctly a couple blocks down the street.
I try to make certain that we get well made wines that are in a budget for everyone. I don’t mark everything up sky high. It isn’t good for the guests. It isn’t good for business. Eventually, you will lose the clients for good.
How do you manage to stay on top of the changes in the wine industry?
I stay on top of trends by reading. I live in a small town so I look through top restaurants lists and bars in the cities. It isn’t respectable to steal anyone’s list. It is respectable to see what the market is doing and put your own twist on it. Any Sommelier should try to attend classes. I do attend classes as far as 3 or 4 hours away about once every 2 or 3 months.
You need your distributors! The distributors are great influences. They know the trends of which wines are selling in the market. It is really important to read and it is important to listen to your guest. If you have five guests in a couple of days ask for the same odd drink, it is time to find out exactly how to make it properly. It is matter of being savvy. You don’t want to do every fad out there. It should be something you are aware of and you will be able to speak about it.
How would a new vineyard get the attention of someone like you to notice their wine and what’s the best way for producers to improve their chances of being listed?
A new producer needs to travel and get the product in front of people. I would be more than willing to sit down with a distributor and a winemaker together. We always are looking for products that other people do not carry to make us stand out.
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
If I were a wine I would be a Riesling, I am straight forward and racy. Sometimes, I am sweet. Other times, I have a bone dry personality.
What are the top 3 types of wine (your faves) would we find in your home wine collection and what’s your desert island wine?
I am getting ready to sit for another wine test. I have a bottle of 2005 Cristal I would like to pop after the test. A friend bought it for me. We are Champagne lovers. My house is loving Von Schubert, Maximum Grunhauser Abtsberg Riesling. I would have to say R Lopez de Heredia, Tondonia Rioja.
We don’t believe in aging wines at my house. We can’t wait is the first issue. I don’t have the correct equipment at my house. We try to buy wines ready to drink from a small wine shop. I think as a Sommelier. Our role is to promote our business and the small wine shops that help us get the word out in the communities about great wines.
If I was stuck on a desert island, I would have to have Elio Perrone, Bigaro, Piedmont, Italy. It tastes like strawberry soda. It is better than soda. It is light and refreshing. My personality is practical. You can’t have a wine too high in alcohol or too acidic. I mean you are on a desert island forever. It isn’t good for the body.
I would change that answer if it was one wine before I die. I think I would go out with something spectacular. I think I would have a Bordeaux. It would have to be Chateau Palmer.
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers – International Sommelier Positions – www.sommelier-jobs.com
Dominik Kozlik e.U.
4020 Linz, Austria