The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2018

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Page 34 of 124

34  /  the tasting panel  /  may 2018 What led you to a career in wine? I went to the Culinary Institute of America and fell in love with wine during my second year. I received a scholarship from the school and Kobrand [Wine & Spirits] to study wine abroad for a summer, and that solidified my career path. What is your approach to building wine lists for restaurants as part of the Barteca group? My approach has so many angles! I want a fun, eclectic, value-driven, geeky, food-friendly wine list. Spain is our forte, but there's no rule that the list needs to be only Spanish wine. I hunt for wines everywhere I go that have great personality, as well as terroir-driven styles from producers that really care about their impact as farmers. What is a trend sommeliers/beverage directors need to abandon as part of their wine program? Making wine lists of completely unknown wines and varietals. I love the esoteric and hip wines that are trend- ing right now, but I also think balancing them with great comfort-zone wines is important. Just because something is old hat to those of us who work in the wine biz doesn't mean it isn't still a delicious new discovery for many people. This trend of "I'm a wine snob and so is my wine list!" needs to go away. Are you seeing differences in the palates of Millennial wine consumers? Millennials and other young generations are wonderfully adventurous and are more confident in knowing what they do and don't want in a wine. It's not necessarily that their palates are that different, but their willingness to try new things is more elevated. Which Spanish wine should be on everyone's list? R. López de Heredia Viña Gravonia Blanco. It has all the personality of Spain in a bottle and will pair with any food you put it up against. What role does training and education play at Barteca? It is the role. I fly around teaching classes every month and we have great people dedicated to developing innovative train- ing materials and experiences. In order to find success on our service team, you have to embrace the continuing education! You have five minutes and one glass of wine. Who are you with and what are you drinking? I'm with my sister-in-wine-adventures [and newly- appointed Barcelona Wine Bar Wine Director] Emily Nevin-Giannini, who supports my whims for changing the list all the time. We'll be drinking Château le Puy Emilien and probably not saying much to each other—just silently enjoying our five minutes of peace. The Tasting Panel and The SOMM Journal are proud to serve as the media sponsors of SommCon D.C. (July 22–24) and SommCon San Diego (November 14–16). For schedule and registration details, visit PHOTO COURTESY OF SOMMCON Gretchen Thomas Gretchen Thomas serves as the Wine & Spirits Director for Barteca Restaurant Group, overseeing all wine, spirits, and beer selections for Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant and Bartaco concepts. The Tasting Panel had a quick chat with Thomas in anticipation of her participation as a speaker at SommCon, which will be held in Washington, D.C. July 22–24. BARTECA RESTAURANT GROUP WINE & SPIRITS DIRECTOR by Michelle Metter

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