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Pebble Beach Food & Wine – Secrets of a Sommelier

secrets of a sommelier

This last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the sixth annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine Event.  It was truly an amazing experience and feel so fortunate I get to share it with all of you.  One of the highlights is the seminar I attended Saturday morning, “Secrets of a Sommelier: Mythbusters of Wine.”  *Disclosure: I received access to seminar at no charge for media coverage of event. 

secrets of a sommelier

On the panel were 3 experts in the field, master sommeliers –  and the moderator, from Food & Wine Magazine.  These guys were such an entertaining panel, you could not help but to have fun. 


Up for blind testing were 3 flights of 3 wines.  Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Cabernet Sauvignon.  Each of us tasted the flights right along with the sommeliers.  Each gave their opinions on the characteristics of the wine, where they think the wine came from and the price point.  

wine tasting

On some they agreed, on others they widely disagreed.  I am truly impressed by what they could pull from the wines and the knowledge of the wine regions.  I am truly an amateur but listening to the deductions really started to make sense.  In this picture, you can see the difference in colors in these 2 reds which gives you a hint of where it came from.

wine tasting
Notice the difference in color in these two Pinot Noirs

As it turns out, they are often wrong and that makes it fun for people like me.  It’s not about being wrong or right, it’s about having fun and finding a way to truly experience wine.  This would be a very fun way to spend an evening with friends and experimenting with new wines. 

We tasted old world and new world, budget wines and $100 wines.  Without a preconceived notion based on points, price or region – you were fully able to choose which wines were your favorite based on your taste.  

I was very surprised to find out the $100 bottle of wine was actually not in my top 3 choices.  It was a very nicely flavored wine but tasted very fruit forward like black cherry to me.  My preference in reds tends to lean toward a much bolder wine typical of Washington State Reds. 

A great tip they gave in finding good quality wines in your budget is to develop a relationship with a local wine store or supplier.  Be willing to listen to their recommendations and don’t be afraid to try something new.  Give feedback on what you did and did not like about a specific wine so they can guide you in the direction of wines that suit your palate.  Just because a wine is ranked highly, it doesn’t mean you will like it.  

These were the wines that were in our flights:


Lafron Vire Clesse Macon 2011 $40 from Macon Village, Burgundy, France

Stonestreet Upper Barn Chardonnay $75  from Alexander Valley, Sonoma, California

KJ Highland Estate Camelot Highlands Chardonnay 2010 $32 from Santa Maria Valley, Santa Barbara, California

Pinot Noir:

August Kelleler Pinot N Spatburgunder 2010 $27 from Rheingau, Germany

Carmel Road Pinot Noir 2011 $32 from Arroyo Seco, Monterey, California

Champ de Reves Pinot Noir 2011 $35 from Anderson Valley, Mendocino, California

Cabernet Sauvignon:

Freemark Abbey Bosche Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 $100 

Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 $28 from Sonoma County, California

Andrew Will Discovery Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $38 from Horse Heaven Hills, Columbia Valley, Washington State


My favorites were: 

Chardonnay – I chose the $75 bottle, it was subtle and just slightly sweet.  So many different flavors easily distinguished. 

Pinot Noir – The Carmel Road for $22.  Again it had many layers of flavor with just a bold enough black fruitiness that I love.

Cabernet Sauvignon – No surprise I picked the Washington State as my favorite.  Just goes to show that you like what you like and for me that is a nice bold red typical of Washington wines. 


If you have a chance to get to one of these events, I would highly recommend any class like this with sommeliers.  There is always more you can learn about wines. 



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Tracy Iseminger

Tracy is a busy mother to 2 girls, 3 dogs, 5 cats, and 17 chickens! Her adventures in cooking led her to create Daily Dish Magazine. She has a passion for pairing food with travel and wine. She is Marketing Director at Crimson Vine Marketing, Social Media Specialist at Cougar Digital Marketing, and a Dental Hygienist in her spare time... but her favorite thing to do is spend time with her family.

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