Name: Cristy Canterbury
Nationality: USA - New York
At the moment: USA - New York.
Independent Wine Journalist, Public Speaker & Critic & Master of Wine.
Own Website: http://christycanterbury.com/......
Please, tell us a little bit about your first encounter with wine & the wine industry? Any particular mentors at that time?
My first encounter with wine was as an exchange student in university on the Côte d’Azur in France, where I was studying. It was a terribly bad, thin and dilute, cooperative-made rosé. All I could think internally was, “Why would anyone do this to his/herself? It’s AWFUL!” However, I kept tasting wine throughout my summer in Europe and came to really enjoy it. I never thought that in six years time, after having worked professionally in New York then in France in another industry, that I’d make my first steps into the wine business. The motivation for exploring the industry was passion first and foremost followed by the intrigue of the industry’s ever-changing nature.
The first few years that I worked in wine, I found it hard to find mentors. However, as I reached out to people in the industry, particularly after I became part of the Masters of Wine Candidate Classes, I found that people were impressively generous with their time and network.
What specific traits or skills should a Sommelier(e) possess for professional performance and is there any person with that qualities you
especially admire within the wine industry?
By nature of the profession being part of the service and hospitality industry, a Sommelier(e) must care about the client’s interests more than his/her agenda. I have seen many push their agendas too far and neglect the needs of their clients. It’s lame and wrong. Few guests know how to/can push back to get what they want in those circumstances. It’s lamentable.
When a customer asks for advice on selecting wine what's in your opinion would be the best approach?
Read the client and deliver what the client wants. Not everyone wants an adventure. Be sensitive to price, too. And never, ever tell a client s/he is wrong or put his/her taste down. Your paycheck is dependent on a series of good guest experiences…not your experience serving your guests!
What advice would you give people on pairing wine with food?
Similar to the above, give people what they want first and foremost. I often chose the wine before my food, and it’s on me if it does’t match. Moreover, I’m aware that sometimes it does, and I really don’t care. I can have my cake and eat it, too, so to speak. It someone wants just-released, cult Cabernet Sauvignon with their chilled lobster, do it. Someone wants their white Grand Cru Burgundy chilled beyond tasting it? DO IT. They are paying the bill, and they are paying your paycheck.
Should a Sommelier(e) taste the guest's wine?
If it’s an expensive restaurant and the wine is old and valuable, yes. There are always shaky/contestable bottles, and it helps the sommelier(e) to know where that wine is and how it might be performing over a series of openings. If it is in a more casual restaurant, I’m not a fan unless the guest comments on a problem with the wine. The sommelier(e) should know what the wine tastes like and shouldn’t take a skim off the top. If it’s a restaurant without a sommelier(e), I still don’t like it so much, for visual effect - people usually want their every single drop, but it is admittedly helpful for having the staff 1) check the wines and 2) get to know the list better. However, while it is understandable considering the cost of running a restaurant, I wish the restaurant wouldn’t take what I consider the cheap way out to train their staff. I am absolutely sympathetic to the technique, but I really wish that even with higher end wines that restaurants would focus more on wine training for their staff.
Where would you suggest a young Sommelier start searching for Sommelier positions on the internet in your country?
At least in the New York City area, these three are tops.
If you were a wine, which variety would you be, and why?
White: Grüner Veltliner; Red: Pinot Noir
Both are incredibly versatile (see my desert island wine) and can be made into a variety of styles. They are also terroir-driven and can be impressively age-worthy.
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?
1) Burgundian Pinot Noir - from all over Burgundy: Irancy as well as Volnay and Givry and Chambolle-Musigny. There’s always something for every occasion.
2) Nebbiolo - it’s perfume is astonishing, it’s age-worthy and it’s brilliant at the table. It’s also one of my husband’s favorite red grapes. 🙂
3) Aromatic and textured whites - these could be Vermentinos, Rhône-style wines, Alto Adige whites (amongst other textured, if often less aromatic, Italian whites), South African Chenin Blanc-based blends - they’re great for drinking alone as well as with food. I drink more and more of these white wines every year over deeply oaky, huskily alcoholic reds that often are released way too early
Pinot Noir would be my desert island wine: it is my favorite red grape, and it can also be used to make white and sparkling wines. It covers all the bases.
@ by Dominik Kozlik – Zeitgeist Sommeliers - www.sommelier-jobs.com
Dominik Kozlik e.U.
4020 Linz, Austria