The SOMM Journal

December 2017 / January 2018

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32 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } DECEMBER/JANUARY 2017/2018 Dear Good Somm/Bad Somm, I'm a longtime sommelier. However, I'm choosing to leave my prestigious job in wine to become a server at a trendy new spot. I'm hoping to make some fast cash and have more free time to pursue new endeavors, but I'm also afraid I'm going backward in my career. Any advice? Sincerely, Somm in Reverse Dear Somm in Reverse, Wow, big change! Yes, it's true—being a wine director has perks and prestige, but it can also consume your life. Many prominent wine directors take a step down from their position to chase life - long goals. If you need time to pursue your Master of Wine or Court of Master Sommeliers diploma, it could be a good move, or it may give you time to finish that novel or create that business plan you want to pursue! Being a server can give you freedom, and knowing exactly what you need and where to put your focus ahead of time can return big rewards. Sincerely, Good Somm Dear Somm in Reverse, Don't worry, you're not a loser—not completely, anyway. Being a waiter can be somewhat of a living nightmare, but there are some good points, too (as my colleague stated above). Just remember when I dine at your restaurant: I like room-temperature bottled water with no ice, lime, and lemon slices, and I'm also allergic to shellfish, dairy, and gluten. I'm also doing, like, a "vegan thing" right now, so no animal products except for some beef during my main course, which I prefer charred on the outside and rare in the middle. Oh, and also, we've got theater tickets at 8, but I still want a tasting menu with wine pairings, so make it quick. And by the way, my wife thinks you're hot. What time do you get off? We want to swing with you. Yours truly, Bad Somm Dear Good Somm/Bad Somm, I recently took a wine director job and have been tasked with designing a concept for a new wine list at the restau- rant. I'd like to choose one that will separate my list from many others. Any suggestions? Sincerely, Conceptually Challenged Dear Conceptually Challenged, I never really understood "concept-driven" wine lists. "All natural wines" or "all organic/biodynamic wines" or "only female winemak - ers" or "only wines from volcanic islands" are all interesting ideas, but a concept for concept's sake seems overwrought. A theme makes a lot of sense when you match the chef 's cuisine: an Italian-focused list for an Italian restaurant or a Spanish-focused list for a tapas place. So before you make any decisions, you should ask yourself, does my concept fit the menu? Your next priority is to write a list that is accessible to your customers. A "Wines of the Jura" list may not be relatable to someone who simply wants a glass of Chardonnay. Your last responsibility would be to yourself—this is the point where you can put your personal stamp on the program and share what excites you most. Think of the classics as your baseline and then pepper in the esoterica. Sincerely, Good Somm Dear Conceptually Challenged, How about a sci-fi–themed list that will only include wines wherein the night picking crew had a close encounter with a UFO? Or you can take "all natural wines" a step further and only include wines wherein the winemaker had been possessed by a vengeful spirit or demon. Call that your "supernatural wine list." And I know "family-owned/organic" wines are popular, but how about a list of only mega-conglomerate, hugely-corporate producers that use giant mechanical picking machines and spray heavy doses of industrial fertilizers and Roundup weed killer all over the grapes? You can call it "the wine list of the apocalypse." Feel free to use any of these! Yours truly, Bad Somm Thank you again for the thoughtful questions. We hope you enjoyed our answers, and with any luck you are receiving the help you truly need. Follow us at @goodsommbadsomm on social media and/or visit our page at C M Y CM MY CY CMY K

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