Episode 117: Kala Maxym of Five Senses Tasting … “Five Bottles of Chilean Merlot Later … “

Episode 117: Kala Maxym of Five Senses Tastings

Kala Maxym joins the W25 ladies for remarkable stories, laughs and insight into Five Senses Tastings. Five Senses Tastings has emerged as a unique and extremely successful wine tasting concept that provides elevated, multi-sensory experiences that can change the way we see, taste – and experience – wine.

In Our Glasses:

We didn’t include this part in the recording for technical reasons, however, drinking – you all know – was happening.

Val: I happen to be drinking what’s open. What’s open, fortunately, is a 2011 Mauro Molino Bricco Luciani (the vineyard site) Barolo.

Steph: I’m fooling around with my garden mint and Aperol… trying to make a low-alcohol spritz with sparkling mineral water. I muddled some ginger-mint with a slice of orange and then mixed that with 1 oz of Aperol, poured it over ice, filled the rest of the glass with Gerolsteiner sparkling mineral water and garnished with a mint sprig.




Interview with Kala Maxym

This week we interviewed a wine professional that’s carved out her own business in the wine edutainment space. Steph gives full credit to the Twitter-sphere again, as she and Kala connected almost a year ago back in August of 2016 via Twitter.

Steph: “I thought we might meet in person at Women of the Vine & Spirits Symposium, but that didn’t work out. Eventually with a little persistence from both our ends, Kala was able to be with us in Skypeland. Kala has gotten some good press with her business Five Senses Tastings, and I think what she’s doing is unique and thought provoking.”


Kala’s professional background includes working as a Senior Program Analyst with the U.S. Department of Justice, as a professional opera singer (a highlight was singing at the London Inaugural Ball for President Barack Obama), and working for a tech start-up. That’s all until she realized none of this was what she truly wanted to do with her life! So… she quit her “real” job and moved to LA all in the same week last April and is now dedicated full­ time to her company, Five Senses Tastings. With a versatile roster of musicians, she customizes the tastings with the corresponding style or genre of music and artist.

Kala is a California Wine Appellation Specialist title and WSET Level 1 certified (if all went well, she just passed WSET Level 2 this past weekend)! Kala is also a former bone marrow donor.

Five bottles of wine later:

Kala told us how she was inducted into the world of wine “nearly three lives ago.” She was in Chile on assignment, where she’d previously lived, while still serving with the Department of Justice. She had gotten very ill, but when the rest of her team joined her in Chile they insisted on going wine tasting. Reluctantly she joined them, and “five bottles of Chilean Merlot later” she was feeling much better. She also teased that Chile was the scene of her embarrassing wine story she would share later in the show.

Five Senses Tastings:

When Kala was on her “third life” living in New York as an opera singer, she noticed changes not only in her voice, but in the economy that prompted tweaks in her professional life. She made a career move to a tech startup specializing in localization and translations while trying to maintain her singing career on the side. As opera companies folded around her, and her exploration of wine grew, she had the idea that perhaps there was a way to merge her love of both. From wine flights to sampling musical stories that emerged from her opera background, the idea of involving more senses in the wine tasting experience evolved.

She left the tech company and moved to Los Angeles where her ideas intrigued clients right away, including Diane Von Furstenburg. She truly believes anything can happen in LA, as people are open to new concepts. Here is where Kala is now based with her roster of extremely talented, versatile musicians and Five Senses Tastings continues to enchant those who open their minds to mult-sensory wine experiences.

The single most important thing…

Because Kala mentioned in her bio that she is a bone marrow donor, we asked her why it is now part of her human fabric. She believes this is “the single most important thing I will ever do with my life.” Being matched with a woman and actually save her life (in November 2003) felt like a humbling, intimate experience, and she truly believes that “it’s not heroic, it’s just human.” She goes on to say that donating bone marrow wasn’t the painful experience that people often fear. The woman she was matched with is still alive today.

Like many of us who’ve lived in or traveled to certain countries around the world who cannot donate blood, we learned this is something people can still do. For more information, we’re happy to provide the link to the Bone Marrow Registry.

A return to Chile, a boat, and some more wine

Kala returned to Chile after the 2010 earthquake, specifically to Robinson Crusoe Island by leveraging some diplomatic connections from one of her past lives. She was there to perform at a benefit recital to rebuild a school on the island. In this situation, the president of Chile actually requested her presence on a navy ship and asked her to sing. Nerves were getting the best of her, but fortunately she was offered a glass of wine (AKA liquid courage) which she promptly chugged.

Wine, again, comes to the rescue and unites the human spirit. Let’s face it, wine is what brings us all together in this community!


Please connect with Kala on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and her websites at Five Senses Tastings. You can also check out Kala’s website, kalamaxym.com, for links to her performances, videos, and so much more.


Factoid: Sotol

Sotol is made from a plant called a Desert Spoon, sotol, in Spanish. These plants grow in Chihuahua, Mexico where the Sotol spirit is considered their “state drink.” These plants are slow to grow, and only after 12-15 years can you produce one liter of the drink, also known as Sotol. They are not technically agave plants, but were once part of the agave family. Apparently they are now part of the Nolinaceae family.

It still comes in different styles, as does Tequila and Mezcal. The silver or plata is unaged; the Reposado ages up to a year; and the Añejo is aged for a year or more.

It received its DO in Mexico in 2004 when the Consejo Mexicano de Sotol was formed. It can only be produced in the three Mexican States of Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila.

See this cool piece by Mezcal PhD, and the following link to Arthur Black’s presentation for more information.

Mezcal, Tequila, Sotol, Bacanora, Raicilla, Pulque, and More…

Agave Intensive Presentation by Arthur Black: http://winewitandwisdomswe.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Agave-Intensive-presented-by-Arthur-Black.pdf



Val: Truffles and Turkey: Thanksgiving in Piemonte, November 19-26, 2017

This is an all-inclusive tour and includes all accommodations at Marchesi Alfieri, breakfasts, lunches, daily aperitivi, and dinners throughout, tastings and tours. Also included are the shuttle service to/from all tour itinerary destinations, expert tour guides, and personal guidance from Suzanne Hoffman, who is intimately familiar with the region, the wines, and the families behind them.

Space is extremely limited, so email Under Discovered Sojourns to reserve your spot: Suzanne@winefamilies.com.


Steph: “Justin and I hit up Vino Volo at the PDX airport, and as I was waiting for my members-only wine taster, I thought about our Wine Two Fivers. Do our listeners know how cool Vino Volo is? Let’s give them a shoutout – or another shoutout because I know we’ve mentioned Vino Volo at least once before. The Vino Volo app is easy to use too, the food is mighty good, and you can buy a bottle of wine and take it home with you on the plane. Now, you can’t drink it on the plane, but you can bring it home as a gift to yourself! Ha ha.”

People’s Choice Podcast Awards!

We would so appreciate it if you would take the time to go to www.podcastawards.com and check out all the awesome podcasts (maybe discover something new!) and vote for your favorites. If you’re reading this, we hope the Wine Two Five Podcast is YOUR favorite under the “Arts” category.

Voting is open until 31 July, 2017. We appreciate your support!


Patreon Love: 

Thank you so much to our Patreon supporters! Sending out some Patreon Love to:

TENacious Tasters

Jeff E from the hilarious drinking show, We Like Drinking!

Lynn G from Savor the Harvest!




Sebastian S of Sassi Italy tours!

It’s not five o’clock and we don’t care listeners: Thank you:

  • Meg from South Dakota!
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  • Aswani in California!
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Please welcome our newest It’s not five o’clock and we don’t care supporter, Mary Lou in Pennsylvania! Here’s a little bit about Mary Lou:

“I’m happy to support your podcasting, I’ve enjoyed each one I’ve listened to (roughly since podcast #100).  I’m in the midst of a career change, after 25+ years selling software, I’ve made the decision to pursue a career in the wine trade.  I’m currently studying for the CSW Exam with the Society of Wine Educators, and working part time in a small but fantastic wine store in Delaware.”
She is fluent in French, having lived in the Rhône Valley. You can find her at her new gig, GÜD – Philly, (for “Grown Up Drinks”). Check out her Facebook page as well!

And we cannot thank you all enough for supporting and being a vital part of the W25 listening and sipping community – which is growing. Stay tuned for more announcements, new Winetastic Listener announcements, and our drawing next week!

Monthly Patreon Drawing:

Reminder – we have a new monthly Patreon drawing! Each month we are drawing a winner of a wine gift for all Patreon supporters at the $2/month Tastemaker Listener level and higher. Go to our Patreon page for details. www.patreon.com/winetwofivepodcast

We will be drawing July’s winner the week of 11 July during our next recording, so stay tuned!

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But wait, there’s more! Check out our store where you can score wine books & accessories (for sure). It’s all on our website, along with links to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, & Google+

Connect with Val on Twitter @WineGalUnboxed and as Vino With Val on Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest.

Steph is on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest as the Wine Heroine. You can also connect with her personally on FaceBook.