Episode 128: Jedi Wine Master, Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, MW
Master of Wine Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan joins the ladies for a mid-morning happy hour to talk everything from changing careers to creating apps, courses, & writing books. The Jedi Wine Master also shares some funny stories & even chats a little “wine in space.” There is something here for every wine lover. Pour, click, learn, & giggle. Cheers ~
In Our Glasses
Jennifer: Barone Ricasoli, Castello di Brolio, 2013, Chianti Classico.
We paired this with a little side discussion about the gallo nero (black rooster), and shared some giggles over a translation story from the Florence Master of Wine Symposium. Yes, we’re all adults here.
Steph: Maui Brewing Limited Release “Doppel Shot” Double Bock brewed with Yellow Caturra Maui coffee from Hawaii. “I’m channeling our podcast sister Amanda, from Great Beer Adventure Podcast, and having breakfast beer. We haven’t had any beer on the show in a long, long while. And so I thought I would fix that.
Dopplebocks are a German style lager that’s twice as strong as a Bock and can be as hearty as a meal-in-a-glass. This one is 8.2% alcohol, amber in color and super malty.
Val: In honor of Jennifer’s new rose’ book: Rosé Wine: The Guide to Drinking Pink. This is the Knipser Rosé Clarette trocken 2016, Pfalz, Germany. “Trocken” means “dry”, and this rose’ wine is made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, St. Laurent, and Merlot. “At this point I’ve come to love everything this winery puts in their screwcap bottles and just drink it without even asking.”
Main Discussion: Chatting With the Jedi Wine Master
Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan MW
Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan is one of media’s best-featured “go to” experts on wine. She holds the world’s top wine title (MW), has trained thousands in the industry and judges in international wine and spirits competitions.
Jennifer is the fourth woman and among only 40 people in the US to ever attain the international title of Master of Wine (MW), the highest wine title to achieve in the world. She was also honored with an international tasting trophy for her palate and holds an additional 5 leading wine and spirits certifications. She is also one of the rare female members of the Chevalier du Tastevin, Commanderie de Bordeaux as well as a member of The Board of Directors at The American Friends of La Cité du Vin.
She is the author of The One Minute Wine Master: Discover 10 Wines You’ll Like in 60 Seconds or Less. She has also co-authored a culinary textbook featured at the Culinary Institute of America and Le Cordon Bleu titled Pairing with the Masters: A Definitive Guide to Food & Wine and contributed to Professional Wine, and contributed to Professional Wine Reference, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive, and The Wedding from A to Z. This past April her new book was released titled Rosé Wine: The Guide to Drinking Pink.
TV, Courses & Other Publications:
Jennifer is also the author and host of five film series on wine and spirits with The Great Courses – The Everyday Guide to Wine, The Everyday Guide to Spirits & Cocktails, The Everyday Guide to Wines of France, The Everyday Guide to Wines of Italy, and The Everyday Guide to Wines of California. She is a frequent guest on national television including NBC’s Today Show, Fox Business, Fox News, Fox & Friends, CNN/Money, Anderson Cooper, Bloomberg TV, and CBS. She has also been featured in world-class publications such as The New York Times, Fortune, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Businessweek, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Huffington Post, Gotham, O The Oprah Magazine, Women’s Health, Shape, Food & Wine, Wine Spectator, Wine & Spirits and Wine Enthusiast. With an energetic, dynamic personality, she has also hosted seminars with famous Food Network Stars such as Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay, and Mario Batali.
Other Recent Projects:
For the last five years, Jennifer has been a senior partner at a technology firm called Wine Ring. Using patented, highly sophisticated machine learning algorithms and a form of AI technology, Wine Ring captures personal preferences and then identifies precisely which wines an individual or group of people will like, eliminating uncertainty in choosing wine. (JSB Bio 2017)
In addition to all this, and another project she announces here on the show, she recently was a speaker at Tedx Wilmington. We have no idea how she found the time to sip along with us, but we were so grateful to have this time with her.
When Lunch Changes Your Life Forever
Wine was not something she jumped into right away. Jennifer actually started her career in finance, working for City Bank in London. One afternoon she attended a business lunch in the corporate dining area where wine was served along with the meal that would change her life forever. It wasn’t so much the Sancerre itself, but it was the pairing with an herb-crusted salmon that blew her away – a conscious decision by the chef to put this pairing together. This lunch inspired her to look up a wine class and find the Phillip McGregor school for wine. Every Tuesday at 7 p.m. she’d go to this six person class where the instructor was notably tipsy. She was officially bit by the wine bug.
Upon overhearing some coworkers one-upping each other over wine talk and the mention of an “oaky, buttery, Chardonnay,“ Jennifer was again inspired to learn more. Having no idea what this was, she headed over to Oddbins across the street from her flat, and made her request. “My good man,” she told the man behind the register, “I’d like an oaky, buttery Chardonnay.” He produced Wolf Blass Chardonnay, about seven pounds sterling, and she was actually surprised it was a white wine. She took the bottle home and started sorting through the aromas and flavors. It was this exploration that began her love affair with wine … not to mention finance was burning her out.
While many of us like to say our last careers drove us to drink, this wasn’t entirely the case. Yet, Jennifer can say that exposure to these experiences while still in her 20’s at least set her on the path. Recognizing that she didn’t relish the “turn-em and burn-em” future of banking and finance, she quit her six-figure salary and went to work for a wine shop in New York called the Burgundy Wine Company.
Black and White and Red – or Pink – All Over
Sterling publishers actually contacted her to write her latest book on rose’ wine. However, she actually pitched her first book to them years ago, based on a portfolio gap in terms of female wine authors, particularly Masters of Wine. That first book was the One Minute Wine Master, published in 2012, based on a quick 10-question quiz that helps you find your preferred drinking style, similar to seasons, Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.
Fast forward the current book, Rosé Wine: The Guide to Drinking Pink, which is based on the same idea. This time the quiz places tasters into style profile categories of blush, crisp, fruity, and rich – similar to seasonal concept. There are so many rosé styles to sort through, from semi-sweet to full-bodied, rich wines; her book helps you navigate the wild, wonderful world of rosé. This concept is exceptionally helpful if you’re looking for a bottle that you’ll like. Not to mention, being confident in your style preferences arms you with the language to stroll over to your local wine purveyor and start a conversation with, “My good man (or woman) … ”
If You Like, Then You Shoulda Put a Wine Ring on It
We asked Jennifer about the Wine Ring. She explained the genesis of the project, and how it makes recommendations based on just your preferences, not ratings, not reviews by everyone else.
“It started almost like the beginning of a joke, a Goldman-Sachs banker, a high-level lawyer, and a scientist walk into a bar…” Essentially, they contacted Jennifer and asked for her help with the development of an algorithm. This technology takes the intersection of all your preferences and bases wine recommendations on that. There are no filters or data gathering based on crowd or collaborative sourcing. Instead, Wine Ring technology suggests recommendations based on your likes, as well as smell, taste, touch and emotion sensations as well. Ten Master Sommeliers and Masters of Wine came on board for this project, and you can learn more at winering.com
What Complexity Is … and Isn’t
The Jedi Wine Master’s most embarrassing wine story kind of brings us full circle with a little discussion at the top of the show during the “In Our Glasses” segment, regarding, well, this guy.
It all happened about 10 years ago when she was teaching in a room full of Tony Soprano-looking distributor and sales reps about wine. And you won’t want to miss it at 33 minutes in. We won’t give it away here … because it’s just too good.
Connect With Jennifer
Wine in space? We brought this up in honor of the Jedi Wine Master joining us for this episode. Also, Jennifer was on an episode of Star Talk Radio with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who is also a lover of wine and a member of the New York Chevalier du Tastevin, a few years back. Therefore, we went there – to space. And perhaps a little beyond.
Seriously a different take on terroir. So while many of us wake up these days wondering what the heck planet we’re on, there is now conversation about growing grapes in space. What about winemaking? Well, Gizmodo says NASA’s not on this yet, but China has sent some varieties up and NASA spokesperson Gioia Massa (whom they call the veggie principal investigator) has not ruled out viticulture in space.
Val: Thank you to all our patrons, and please know that if you joined the show after the last week in August we’ll be adding your audio shoutouts at the end of September, as this episode is pre-recorded.
Speaking of Jedis and Star Wars Fans, we would also like to give a quick shoutout to Wine Wars Podcast, where Jennifer has also appeared. We also referenced Skywalking Through Neverland, whom we connected with last year during International Podcast Day last year – they are a lot of fun (and family friendly).
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