How does Alpana Singh define the role of a sommelier?
I think our job as sommeliers is to be — I don’t want to say “geeky” because that is kind of a bad word — but when we taste a wine and put it on our wine list, we stand by it. We say that this is very typical for the region; this presents an excellent value price-point-wise, whether it be $30 on a wine list or $3,000 on a wine list. It’s very much an endorsement of what you’re looking for flavorwise, regionwise. This is a bottle that is going to deliver based on what you’re looking for.
Overall, what I think makes a good bottle of wine a great bottle of wine is certainly that balance. It’s that purity of fruit. You’re not tasting too much acid; you’re not tasting too much oak; you’re not tasting too much alcohol. I think it’s also the story of the person who makes it because we do share the history of the winemaker; we share the history of the region; we talk about how we discovered the wine ourselves; or how we met the winemaker. I think in many ways it’s obviously the flavor, but you’re also translating a lot of that experience of what it would be like to visit the region, to meet the person, to discover it for the first time for the customer as well.