What to Ask the Sommelier with Lesley Brown, Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers



Lesley Brown has been a part of the Canadian Wine Industry for the past 17 years and works with several high profile wine agencies. She holds an International Sommelier Diploma and has taught wine courses to hundreds of students. Lesley is currently the BC Regional Sales Manager for The Bacchus Group and she also sits on the board of directors for the Import Spirit and Vintners Association and has recently taken over as the President of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS) BC and the Vice President of the CAPS National Board.



  • How did Lesley’s travels around the world teach her not to take herself too seriously?
  • What was the best moment from Lesley’s wine experiences so far?
  • How can exploring wine region geography improve your appreciation for wine?
  • How did Italy become Lesley’s favourite place to visit for wine?
  • What is the origin story behind Super Tuscan wines?
  • What does CAPS do?
  • Why should you watch sommelier competitions?
  • What should you ask a sommelier to find a good wine from their list?
  • Which winemaker inspires Lesley the most?
  • What was the most interesting wine pairing Lesley ever had?
  • What is Lesley’s favourite wine gadget?




Wine Reviews


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Transcript & Takeaways

Welcome to episode 15! Before we get started, I want to give a shout out Craig Haynes in Ottawa who emailed me to say: “I want to take this opportunity to say that I’m a fan of your podcast. I like to listen to you and your guests share stories and insights about the world of wine while I commute to work.”

I’m so glad that I can make your commute shorter Craig! In addition to this podcast, you can also listen to the audio version of my first book Red, White and Drunk All Over, available on Amazon, Audible and iTunes.

I’ll continue to give a shout to others who’ve been kind enough to post a review on Apple podcasts, social or email, so if you want me to mention your website or social media handle, please include that in your review, along with your name.

Now, back to this episode. We’re chatting with BC sommelier Lesley Brown. She has some terrific insider tips about how to choose a great wine from a restaurant list, and which questions to ask the sommelier. Plus she has some amusing stories from her travels to wine regions in Australia, Portugal and Tuscany. You’re going to enjoy this!


You can also watch the video interview with Lesley that includes Lesley’s demonstration of how to use the Coravin wine preservation system, bonus content and behind-the-scenes questions and answers that weren’t included in this podcast.


I love Lesley’s sense of humour!

Here are my takeaways from this discussion:

  1. Even when you’re knowledgeable about a certain subject, as Lesley is with wine, it’s vital to stay humble. I think that’s the key to learning, no matter how advanced you are: keep a beginner’s mind that open and still thrills to the wonders of your subject.
  2. Love her direct approach to the sommelier or server when it comes to the restaurant list: just ask for a recommendation and don’t be afraid to say what your price range is. I’d add a second question here: ask the somm what excites him or her on the list.
  3. Lesley gave a great demo on how to use the Corvin wine preservation system. You can actually watch her do this on the video we recorded. You’ll find a link to that, as well as to the wines we discussed in the show notes at nataliemaclean.com/15.

What was your favourite tip or quote from this episode? Share that with me on Twitter or Facebook and tag me @nataliemaclean, on Instagram I’m @nataliemacleanwine or use the hashtag #unreservedwinetalk.

You’ll also find links to Lesley’s social media channels, the somm documentaries, and bonus tips for this episode at nataliemaclean.com/15.

My next guest on the show will be Canadian rockstar winemaker, Thomas Bachelder, who produces top-notch organic wines in Niagara, Oregon and Burgundy. He’s a former journalist with a great mind and a real talent for telling stories.

Finally, if you want your ability to pair wine and food to the next level, join me in a free online video class at nataliemaclean.com/class.

If you liked this episode, you can share it easily with a friend and I’d really appreciate it if you would: just tap on the purple box that says Unreserved Wine Talk and in the bottom right corner of your phone, you’ll see three dots. Click on them and there’s your option to Share this.

It’ll fill in everything for you, including the title of this episode and the link to it, in an email or text, to the wine-lovin’ friend of your choice. Thank you.



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