Video: What Should You Ask a Sommelier?

Our guest this evening has been an active member of the Canadian wine industry for 17 years, working with several high profile wine agencies. She holds an International Sommelier Diploma and has taught wine courses to hundreds of students.

She is also the new BC president of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS).

And she joins me live now from her home in Vancouver: Welcome to the Sunday Sipper Club Lesley Brown!


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Watch previous episodes  of the Sunday Sipper Club (SSC) and to find out who’s coming up next.




Lori Kilmartin12:11 I am going to Abruzzo in May – any hints/tips for the wine/food?

Gregory Hughes9:52 Terroir is the salient culture you encounter too. Yeah, i agree. Seeing it takes it from the abstract and puts it within reach.




Ashley Hudson42:26 Buying these for Xmas presents for my wine friends!

Beverly Asleson16:53 Hello I’m late welcome Lesley




Lois Gilbert51:27 Malbec, my fav

Douglas Trapasso33:20 do you travel to the u.s. often (im in chicago) howdo you think the wine business is different in canada?




Marie-Piere Belisle45:10 Great practical gift idea, Coravin genius thanks for this tip


Paul E Hollander14:45 We enjoy the Italian wines also. Northern particularly and learning more about those from Sicily.




Lori Kilmartin24:20 Who are the two Canadians competing in Montreal?
Lori Kilmartin9:55 What country/area is your favourite place to visit – for wine?




Lori Kilmartin44:25 What is the cost of a system?

Bob Levesque26:01 Love California sins but dot think we can get that one here. Sonoma




Rick Scott27:43 Why do we have provincial regulations,it should be open to all provinces

Rick Scott46:04 Bottle doesn’t last that long for a device like that




Jason Davies45:24 Over here it’s £200 for model 1 and £250 model uk price

Lois Gilbert35:43 Does Lesley have any comments on wines produced in China?




Lori Kilmartin16:43 Does Lesley work as a Sommelier now? Where?

Patti Wright Hollander47:16 Enjoy this so very much!🍷🍷




Paul E Hollander25:26 We enjoyed the movie.

James Norton32:21 2014 Chalk Hill Estate Chard




Gregory Hughes44:02 About 300 i think

David Brown32:31 Well done Lesley! Dad & Linda




Rick Scott31:39 That’s great advice Lesley

Lois Gilbert38:12 in the mongolians region





Eunice Bokstrom18:41 How can a customer work with a sommelier in a restaurant? Who asks the questions and what information is most helpful to provide?

Keith Nicholson18:05 Great work Lesley!!















Lesley Brown

Lesley Brown has been a part of the Canadian Wine Industry for the past 17 years. Born and raised in Montreal, she developed a love for food at an early age, which afforded her an easy transition into the wine world. She moved to the Rockies in the 1990’s and began a journey into hospitality and fine dining. During her time in the Rockies, she took a hiatus to achieve her Diploma in Tourism Management on Vancouver Island and then found her way back to continue her career with an international hotel and pursue additional formal wine education.

In 2001 Lesley relocated to Victoria, BC where she joined Mark Anthony Wines in the capacity of Fine Wine Consultant. That same year she graduated with her International Sommelier Diploma. Lesley then transitioned into doing what she loves – teaching others about the wonders of wines! She taught for the International Sommelier Guild from 2004-2012.

Following her passion and thirst for further wine knowledge, she has had the opportunity to travel to many wine regions including France, Italy, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, Spain, and Portugal where she has trained at internationally renowned and historic wineries. She is also a champion for the BC wine industry, which is in her backyard, and she has had the opportunity to spend time with many of the wonderful producers.

Lesley relocated to Vancouver in 2012 where she continues to be an integral part of the BC Wine Industry. She is currently employed by The Bacchus Group as the BC Regional Sales Manager. She also sits on the board of directors for the Import Spirit and Vintners Association and has recently taken over as the President of CAPS BC and the Vice President of the CAPS National Board.

She spends her free time with her husband and two children. She has a passion for food and loves to spend her rare leisure time cooking and experimenting with new recipes – and pairing them with wonderful wines of course!

Full Transcript:

Natalie: Become a sommelier. Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to learn tonight
from our guest who joins me live from Vancouver. I am Natalie MacLean, editor of Canada’s
largest wine review site at, and we gather every Sunday night at 6:00 p.m. Eastern,
that’s Toronto, New York time to talk to the most interesting people in the world of wine.
Now, before I introduce our guest fully, in the comments below, let me know,
do you think that the type of questions you ask a sommelier will guide you toward a better bottle in a restaurant?
Okay, so our guest this evening has been an active member of the Canadian wine industry for 17 years
working with several high-profile wine agencies. She holds an international sommelier diploma and
has taught wine courses to hundreds of students. She’s also the new BC president of the Canadian
Association of Professional Sommeliers, that’s CAPS, and she joins me
live now from her office in Vancouver. Welcome.

Lesley: Hi, Natalie. Thanks for having me. I actually, believe it or not, so many years ago, do have that pinnacle moment
in my mind. And I was working, fine dining, just starting off my career at the Banff Springs Hotel many moons
ago. And I was speaking to somebody who had just written her exam
for her sommelier diploma and I thought it was the most, as she was explaining the course to me,
I had this epiphany I knew that was my destiny.I knew I had to be in the wine industry
and I’ve taken my path forward ever since.

Natalie: Okay, so Lesley, you said you have a particular story about Zinfandel while traveling in Australia.
Maybe you can share that with us.

Lesley: Yeah, I have many different stories throughout my career and all of them lead to the end result
which is don’t take yourself too seriously. And this particular moment was one of my highlights
where I visited one of the top producers in Australia but had traveled about 22 hours to get there
and my brain was not really a hundred percent and the winemaker was explaining how innovative they were
and they had planted Zinfandel grape just out of the blue,
I don’t even know where the comment came from but I said, did you plant a white or a red Zinfandel?
Great. For people who may not know, all Zinfandel comes from the same grape so I did not start
off looking very, very smart in that exact moment.

Natalie: that’s very humble of you to share that with us,

Lesley: I have many of that. This goes to show you, guys, don’t take yourself too seriously.
It’s how you learn and grow in the wine industry.

Natalie: Absolutely. That’s such a good point. And then you had another story
about being in the Douro in Portugal. The famous wine region of the Douro.
Let’s just get out all the embarrassment at the top here.

Lesley: Okay, this one particularly always comes to the top of my five most embarrassing stories.
And I was with a colleague and we were fortunate enough to visit Graham’s courthouse at the time
and the owner himself, Rupert Symington, was showing us around and we had stepped
into the old Lagares where they hand stomp the grapes back in the day in order to get extract the color
and make optimum ports and through these in these cement lagares which are big troughs,
they had these windows. So my colleague and I thought it would be really fun
to take photos of each other through these little holes in the wall
until Rupert Symington has informed us that’s where the men would pee during their break.
So that would stomp me. That quickly ended our giggling and fun
and we took things a little more seriously.

Natalie: I guess we’re well framed, those photos.

Lesley: That’s two embarrassing stories right off the bat.

Natalie: Excellent, you are one of us, Lesley. Can you maybe take us to the best moment
of your wine career to date? I’m sure there’s many to come yet
but maybe what’s been your favorite moment or best moment so far.

Lesley: I think I’ve had many. It’s hard to narrow down some of these moments
but I think the best moment was the first time after studying so much throughout books and tasting wine
and then having the opportunity to travel overseas, and there have been a few different wine regions
but every time, it’s the same thing where you step foot and you can touch the soil and taste the wines
and have the local food and meet the winemakers and the wine principles of these properties
that you study so much and everything comes to life and you realize it just all makes sense.
I don’t know if that sums it up but everything makes sense and it just, I feel so lucky every time I get to do that
no matter how many times I’ve visited Italy or France. It’s just every time it’s the same thing
and I realize this is why I love it and this is why I do it.

Natalie: Ah, beautifully put. I have to agree with you. I think that once you have the exterior geography, it becomes part of your internal geography.You can really place those, like a burgundy, can become so confusing but if you’ve been Morso and Bun and so on and you’ve been there, you’ve walked there, you’ve smelled the wines there, I think it really,
you can internalize it much better than just looking at wine labels and just tasting
even though that’s important as well.

Lesley: Absolutely and to add on to it, also meeting some of the top wine people in the world
who are maybe five, six generations into the wine industry and you realize they’re the most passionate humble people
that you can meet in our whole industry. And they command so much respect
and there’s a reason why they do what they do as well.

Natalie: As I say, when it comes to wine, it’s often generational and it’s farming.
I tend to call it fancied up farming but it is, it does have roots going back generation after generation
and really people do take pride and I suppose that goes with any family business
but there’s something special about, I think a farming business and stretching back
on the generations. What country or area, Lesley, is your favorite place to visit for wine?

Lesley: Good question. – Well, I have to say don’t like to narrow it down or pick favorites
but it’s 100% Italy for me. The food, the wines, the regions. I definitely have my heart from the north
to the southern and part of Italy.

Natalie: Is there a particular part of Italy or a memory you have of visiting Italy?
Maybe it was a sumptuous dinner or something that stood out in Italy itself.

Lesley: Yeah, there’s been so many and it’s so many regions and I also love the food of the regions
which I think is why I’m so passionate about Italy. But I probably have a favorite wine and food story
from every region but I think the first time I visited was actually in Tuscany.
And it was quite a long time ago in 2003 and I had the opportunity to go visit the Antinori family
which is 26 generations into the wine industry and just to stay in an old castle and I had the local food
of the region and had the opportunity to try their Super Tuscans for the first time
and the pairing was just magic for me. There was some braised rabbit at the time,
there was the pasta that was homemade and the funny thing about it is every time
I’ve been to Italy, you get served the antipasto to start and you enjoy it and the fresh olive oil over the prosciutto
and some of the other antipasto and my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Natalie: Yes, mine too.Good job, good job.

Lesley: And it’s suppertime there and not here. And then so and the fresh bread and the olive oil
and the wines that you have. And then you go into the pasta courses and you think,
oh, I’m in heaven, I can just keep eating this. And then the meat course is served
and that’s when you think, okay, how can I continue on? But as the meal progresses and the wines progress
and the time goes on, you realize it’s also about the sharing and the time.
It’s not just sitting down and eating quickly and leaving. The meals take hours and there’s lots of great conversation
and learning and sharing stories and tasting wines at the same time as well as the local cuisine.

Natali: Absolutely. – And I had that in every region.

Natalie: Yeah, that sounds great. You’re reminding me of my first trip as well to Italy
which was Tuscany and it was before I even started writing about wine.
But we went and we had this multi-course, only we didn’t realize that they came with the antipasto
so we had that and then we had the lasagna. It was so good that we asked for seconds
not realizing that there were so many more courses to come and didn’t want to offend anybody
by not trying the rest of them but it was like we filled up on lasagna. And it was like, oh, yeah, just six more courses.

Lesley: Yeah, that’s the hard thing. It’s a marathon sometimes.

Natalie: It is but it’s what we do. It’s our professional duty.
And just for those who may not be aware, what are Super Tuscan wines?

Lesley: So Super Tuscan wines, I don’t have the exact dates in my head but I believe it was the late 70s.
I’ll have to look that up because I don’t want to give any misinformation.
And the wine laws in Italy are so strict as your viewers may or may not know
and everything is determined by the regulated regions of what grapes can come, how many, what’s grown there.
And a couple producers decided, you know what? I’m going to produce a wine with some international grapes
that of course, we’re not within the wine laws and they produced a wine with some Merlot
and Cabernet Sauvignon. They produced some grapes
that were not in the regulated region and of course, because of this, they had to call it a like an IGT
at the time which was the, I’m not going to pronounce Italian right now
but basically, wines of the country. So they can come from anywhere within Italy.
So they had to reclassify from the top, top level down to that level.
And they, and of course, the media grabbed onto it and it took off and these wines that were supposed
to be something innovative and exciting became the predominant,
some of the most popular wines day of Italy and some of those examples might be a Sassicaia,
Solaia, Tignanello, just to name a couple of them, Ornallaia, the Oz, I call them.

Natalie: Yes, and they give you pause, ah. Because they’re also some of the most expensive wines
which is–

Lesley: Yes.

Natalie: Is it Sassicaia who–

Lesley: they were not, at the start, they were not. They were maybe a third of the price they are today
but because people didn’t know what the response was going to be on those wines
but they’re also from some of the top vineyard sites in Bulgaria and on the coast of Tuscany.

Natalie: They just wanted the freedom to do what they thought was best for the bottle.
And Sassicaia I think has its own appellation which was kind of pivotal as well.
Lori is going to Abruzzo in May and she wonders if you have any tips for wine and food there
or if anything stands out. I don’t know if Abruzzo is one of the regions
you visited before.

Lesley: No, I haven’t visited that region at all but I think when you go to any region in Italy,
it’s about trying the local cuisine and asking for the local wines and I mean
I find some of the best wines in Italy are the most unassuming wines
that are made in the local villages that go along with the local food.
So I think it’s just about asking those questions and I apologize, I haven’t been to that area.

Natalie: Italy a big country. Greg says terroir is the salient culture you encounter.
I agree. Seeing it takes it from the abstract and puts it within reach.
Well, put there Greg. And Paul Hollander says we enjoy Italian wines,
northern Italy in particular and are learning more about Sicily.
Of course, Sicily is the island in the south and Nero d’Avola, a nice big reds come from there.
All right, so back to our topic. We took a little side to her to Italy which was fun.

Lesley: That was fun.

Natalie: Yeah, absolutely. So can you remember the most memorable,
oh, there was something else that you had mentioned to me. On one of the first nights after becoming a wine steward,
the lead sommelier had you serve a table and you didn’t know who you were serving.
Maybe you can tell us about that.

Lesley: Yes. This isn’t as embarrassing as my first two wine stories. But I had just started my studies.
I had not completed my sommelier diploma at the time but was very enthusiastic and studying hard
and the wines, the lead sommelier of the restaurant came up and said, “Lesley, you’ve got to go serve this table
“and just make sure, they’re VIPs.” and so I went over and served the table
and they ordered wines that required decanting. Things I was just learning about
so I put every effort I could into the table
but had no idea who they were at the end. And I’ll give the great reveal of who they were.
It was the Baron and Baroness Rothschild at the time and they were visiting, it was in Victoria, BC actually
and that always stands out to me because I, it was just a pinnacle moment in my serving career
I should say, my wine career.

Natalie: What did they order? Their own wine or?

Lesley: I don’t remember. It was so long ago but I do remember
it was a big red that required decantation for air, not for sediments so it wasn’t an old wine.
But as you’re just learning, it can be nerve-wracking to make sure you have the optimal temperature
and the right glassware and everything else ready to go and that when you’re opening a cork,
no matter who the table is, you want to make sure that you’re doing a proper job of it
and everything was flawless at that table. That was a nice thing.

Natalie: That’s fantastic and you’re always–

Lesley: Doesn’t always happen.

Natalie: Just like technology. But yes, you’re already sort of getting into the role
of the sommelier but I’m first going to acknowledge, Beverly has joined us and I think a happy birthday
is in order, Beverly, if I’m not mistaken. So I’m so glad you joined us here.
And Lori’s asking, do you work as a sommelier now? But you work with a wine agency today, correct?

Lesley: Yeah, so I don’t work as a sommelier on the floor. I haven’t for the last maybe 15 years.
I wear two separate hats in my career and one is I work with the wine agency now
importing wines from around the world. And my other side of my hat is I’m an educator
and have kept that going for many years as well as now working volunteer time with the CAPS association.
So I stay very active within the sommelier community, throughout the agency as well
as through the CAPS association but I don’t in that capacity anymore.

Natalie: Okay, well you’ve done it all so that’s great. You bring all of this diverse experience
in the wine industry to our conversation which is just fantastic.
So I am tempted to go in multiple directions but let’s talk about CAPS, the Canadian Association
of Professional Sommeliers. What do CAPS do?
Does it grant certification or are there sort of multiple levels of courses you take
and then you graduate as a certified sommelier?

Lesley: It’s a good question. So CAPS is a national association.
I actually worked with them on the national level as well. It originated in Quebec in Ontario
and has quite a large membership in both those provinces and then The Maritimes came on board
so there’s a very large supportive community of CAPS in Halifax, in Prince Edward Island
and after that was Manitoba and then BC came on four years ago.
So there’s a couple thing that CAPS is involved with. One is that it is an association
and for many years as I was studying and completed my studies,
all I wanted to have was an association that you could interact with other people,
networking association and encompasses all educational aspects.
And that’s essentially what CAPS is on the trade level. There is also a very large membership
as you probably know, Natalie, with Ontario of consumers and people who are just interested in wine
and wanted to attend different events and CAPS as varies from Quebec in Ontario from that perspective.
We do have an educational component. So there are different levels of courses
being offered in different provinces from across Canada. So and that would be an entry-level starting
into your wine career for people who just have wanted to learn more about wine,
for people who work in our industry and that is a basic level one all the way up
to the diploma level of CAPS which is about a one-year intensive study program.
We are just in British Columbia, going to be launching the courses for the first time
in fall of 2018 so we don’t have them yet but that is one of the biggest umbrellas of CAPS
is the courses. we’re only four years in now in British Columbia
so it’s taken a little while for us to get up and running. And then one of the other areas that are very important for us
is our competitions. So we run different provincial competitions.
In most provinces, I believe it’s every two years but in British Columbia,
we run a provincial CAPS sommelier competition every single year due to our partnership
with the Vancouver International Wine Festival. So I know Natalie, you’ve attended
the wine festival in the past. And so the festival announces the sommelier of the year
and that’s a partnership with CAPS. So we’re much busier here
running our provincial competitions. And then the winners of those provincial competitions
will go compete on the national level and become the best sommelier of Canada.
And that competition takes place in a different province every three years and in fact,
last fall was here in Vancouver and Carl Villeneuve from Quebec took those honors.
And then the most exciting thing I think on the competition front
is for the first time in history, Canada is about to host the Americas competition.
So the Americas competition is always held in one of the Americas,
so North America, South America, and 24 of the world’s top sommeliers
will be coming to Montreal this May to compete and it’s the first time I mentioned ever in Canada
so we’re very excited about that. We do have two Canadians that will be participating
in this competition. And if anyone can get to Montreal or if you’re in Montreal
and you have the opportunity to attend, seeing the live portion of a competition
and you’re interested in wine, it’s unbelievable.

Natalie: So you can learn a lot just by watching like they’re they’re serving judges
and being judged on other criteria like if they’re presenting the bottle correctly
and pouring and decanting and all that?

Lesley: Yes, 100% and I don’t know if anyone’s had the opportunity to see on Netflix now the movie Somm
when it came out. – Somm.

Lesley: And just watching that one movie gives me chills every time
as I watch those competitors blind tasting live and that’s all done live at this competition
and you’re seeing the best in the world which is unbelievable.

Natalie: That’s great and I think you can, as a consumer, even if you don’t want to become a sommelier,
it’s educational and you’re saying that but you see what really the pros do
and what you can expect if you want good wine service
in a restaurant. I know not every restaurant has a designated sommelier
but for restaurants that care about the wine list,
often there’s someone there, the person who bought the wines or the bartender,
somebody is knowledgeable enough to talk to you about the wines and you know kind of what you can expect
especially if you’re buying a relatively pricey wine. Actually, speaking of that, not that your wine is expensive
but you need to tell me what’s in your glass tonight, Lesley, please.

Lesley: Right. So tonight, it’s still a little bit early in Vancouver but it’s always a good time. It’s past noon to drink wine.
So I’m having the Dry Creek Heritage Vines Zinfandel tonight.

Natalie: Can I you hold it right up to the camera? Your camera lens?
Yes, then we’ll see the label. There we go, got it, Dry Creek.

Lesley: This is in honor of the California Wine Fair that’s being held on Vancouver tomorrow
so I thought oh, let’s try something from California and I’m now inspired from all our conversation
of all I think about in the days, what am I going to make for dinner tonight?
So I’m all thinking now about is how I’m going to stop and get some nice maybe some even some beef tenderloin
or something to grill tonight and maybe some, not even flank steak and do something beautiful
with the Zinfandel. And I’m also thinking Italian in my head
over and over again.

Natalie: Why choose? Have both.

Lesley: And so now I’m curious to see what you have in your glass.

Natalie: Well, in honor of you, Lesley, I chose a BC wine tonight.
It is a Cedar Creek. It’s the Riesling, Platinum Riesling
and I’m a big fan of Cedar Creek, great.

Lesley: Yes, it’s a favorite.

Natalie: I mean there’s just so many. I wish we’ve got more BC wines here, I really do
and that, of course, is an interprovincial trade barrier issue which is a whole topic in and of itself
but I am such a huge fan of BC wines. I mean there’s just so many stellar wineries
and I know someday, we’ll get more of them.

Lesley: Well there are so many fantastic BC wines now and it’s, you know, I find it hard to keep up
with all the producers opening and with different vintages but if you have not visited
the Okanagan Valley, I highly, highly recommend it. It’s phenomenal.

Natalie: Bob Levesque says love California Zins but I don’t think we get that one here,
we don’t get that one here, Sonoma. Okay, I don’t know if Bob is in Sonoma.
And Paul says we enjoyed the movie Somm. And Lori’s asking which two Canadians
are competing in Montreal, Canadian somms in that competition?

Lesley: Yeah, so it’s Carl Villeneuve who just came first in our Canadian competition.
And I’m going to say this wrong, Pier Alexis Souliere. I can’t say it right.

Natalie: That’s okay.

Lesley: From Quebec as well who was our runner-up and he is also working in California right now.
But our two top candidates from the national competition. We have had some winners from Canada in the past
of this competition including Veronique Rivest who has won this before.
So I mean Quebec is very strong. One thing people may not realize for these competitions,
not on the provincial level but on the national and international level is that you have to compete
in a second language that’s not your own. And it has to be French, Italian or Spanish.
I’m not fully understanding of why only those three languages
but those are from the international association. And so to watch people competing in a second language
that’s not their own is also very, very interesting. And our provincial candidates last year
had a lot of intensive studying on French to compete on the national level.
And of course, Quebec being so bilingual, they have an advantage on that side
if you’re already working as bilingual.

Natalie: I thought it was tough enough just remembering all of the wines and the service
and everything but no, you’re going to have to use not your mother tongue.
That’s amazing. That is truly amazing.

Natalie: So Lesley, what would be the best question you think you could ask a sommelier?
You might have several but what would you kick off with if you’re in a restaurant,
you know the person is knowledgeable about wine whether they’re designated a sommelier or not
but what would you ask as a starting point to get a good wine from their list?

Lesley: Well, I think you touched on that earlier, Natalie, which is they’re the experts of their programs.
So they have put a lot of work whether it is a sommelier or wine director has put a lot of work
into writing that wine list and finding wines that suit their style of restaurant, the food
and all different levels. So I think the first thing I would start with is asking
is being very, very straight up and saying what’s your recommendation?
Never hesitate to say this is my budget. This is what I’m eating
and I’d really love your recommendation. And I think that’s something people don’t do enough of.
Maybe there’s an intimidation factor, people feel they should be spending more money
or if they’re not buying the most expensive bottle on the list that they’re afraid to ask for that.
But I think the most important thing to ask is to say what’s your favorite wine?
And what would you recommend with this food? And this is my budget and never hesitate
to have that conversation.

Natalie: Absolutely. And you hit it right on the head because good restaurants also will often wines
you haven’t seen in the liquor store. So yes, they’re the expert on their list
and to get them started, what are you excited about? What do you recommend?
I mean you’re in for a new taste experience at a restaurant
so put yourselves into the hands of the sommelier. I think that’s the best way to go and it’s great advice.

Natalie: Do you have a Twitter handle, Lesley?

Lesley: Yeah, I do. It’s at @finewineconsult.

Natalie: Excellent, excellent. All right, so let’s think about
is there a winemaker you admire most in the world?
And sort of why do you admire him or her?

Lesley: There are so many winemakers that I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with
and so many that I admire but I think there’s one person in the industry that I actually really admire,
look up to and that is Laura Catena. And I don’t know if you had an opportunity to meet her but she is an inspiration
to me on many different levels. She’s the third generation of the Catena winery in Argentina.
She runs the winery now. She’s taken over the entire or overseeing everything to do with the winemaking
although they have a chief winemaker, the winery itself. she lives in San Francisco, has three kids and is also a
full-time medical doctor.

Natalie: Yes, she’s an emergency room doctor. Doesn’t that make me feel very slothful?
Yes, I’m running the winery, I have three kids and I’m the emergency room, actually,
Lesley, she was a guest here probably two or three months ago so she is a wonderful woman
and she knows how to do tango dancing like professionally.

Lesley: Oh, I know and she sings

Natalie: It just goes on and on.

Lesley: Five languages and as a female in the industry,
number one, I find her an inspiration that she can lead and manage
so many different things. And secondly, I have seen her
sing and tango and she’s incredible. But also her drive,
her passion for what she does, her dedication towards her family
and this industry is very inspiring to me on many levels.

Natalie: And if there was one person, living or dead,
that you could share a bottle of wine with, who would that be?

Lesley: Oh, I don’t know. There’s so many as well.
I’d love to meet and not narrowing it down to one person
but I’d love the opportunity to meet the pioneers
of the wine industry. To go back in time and meet Lili Boulanger
and go and see the monks in action and when they built the wine
regions of Burgundy, the southern regions of Burgundy
and I’d love to meet anyone historical in the wine industry
has been an influence. If there was one person, that would be
hard for me to narrow it down because I love to learn from so many
different people.

Natalie: Absolutely.

Lesley: No, it’s not a perfect answer to that question.

Natalie: No, it’s great. You could have a dinner party with monks
and Louis Pommery and other people scattered around
the dinner table. Be a good discussion.

Lesley: Is there somebody you would have specifically?

Natalie: Wow, way to turn the tables. Let’s see.
I would go with Thomas Jefferson because he was a Renaissance man
. Of course, one of the founding fathers of the United States.
Perhaps I should choose someone Canadian
but we don’t have a heritage that far back of making wine
or at least commercially and I just loved, he was always innovating
and he was experimenting with grape plantings from Bordeaux and I
have never thought about that but I would love to sit down and have
some Bordeaux with him. Not the Virginia, Monticello stuff. Thank you,
that needs time maybe today, that would be good stuff but what he
brought over from Bordeaux, we would share that and have a good chat.

Lesley: Okay, well, maybe we should just have a dinner party
and then invite all our guests

Natalie: Yeah, Jefferson, the monks, Lois Pommery. It’s going to be a good dinner party.

Natalie: Lois says does Lesley have any comments on wines produced in China?
So but back to Lois, do you have any? I don’t know if you’ve tasted many or any
wines from China.

Lesley: I have tasted a couple of wines from China but not for several years.
I do know that they’re planting a lot of vineyards right now
and we’re going to start to see some more wines
emerge from the region. There are lots of international consultants
that are going into China too and have gone in to assist with the viticulture
and vinification but other than that, the wine I tasted was many years,
several years ago, I should say, not many and I would say that it’s not
a top memory for me.

Natalie: Very diplomatic.

Lesley: I look forward to tasting some new wines as the region emerges.

Natalie: That’s very diplomatic and like the regions, it needs time for the vines to develop
for the winemakers to realize what can come from their terroir. Lois is saying that the
Mongolians region, interesting. Okay, so let’s get back to some of these other questions
I’ve been dying to ask you, Lesley. Maybe I’ll throw one out here. The weirdest or most unusual
food and wine pairing that you’ve had ever. Can you think back to something like that?

Lesley: The weirdest or unusual. So I’m sure I’ve had weird wine pairings
just through trial and error over the years but one of the most interesting pairings I’ve ever had,
I attended a dinner many moons ago now and it was a seven-course dinner.
All Rieslings from the same producer and same village but different Pradikat levels.

Natalie: Is that sweetness levels, Pradikat?

Lesley: Yeah, the different sweetness. It’s measured by the weight of the sugar levels at harvest
and if you’ve seen those wines before, it goes from Kabinett to Spatlese, Auslese, Eiswein
and it was very interesting because you think I’m going to have a Riesling and I’m going to pair it
with A, B and C but it was paired with the meats of the course, the desserts of the course
and that’s when you realize how powerful some white wines can be as well.
And especially Riesling is one of the most diverse and powerful.
But that’s probably one of the most interesting experiences that stand out.
Because you think where’s red to go with this main course?
And it was another Reisling that came out with venison. I specifically remember the pairing.
It was good.

Natalie: Again, you’re triggering memories for me when I was with Food Art, I think it was.
Food Art and they were doing the caramelized meats had this touch of sweetness
and it went so well with a Riesling that had a bit more like the Spatlese, a bit more sweetness on it.
It was absolutely lovely.

Lesley: Delicious.

Natalie: Yes, so I know you have a favorite wine gadget that you have handy. I would
love to see how you use it because I’ve bought one and not used it yet.
So maybe you can tell us what it is and maybe give us a little demo.

Lesley: Sure, so we were talking earlier just about, I was mentioning I had the Coravin system here
with me tonight. Just in case, I wanted to dabble in a couple more bottles
and I do have a couple more bottles here that I can dabble in.
I wasn’t specifically sticking to California but didn’t want to open so many bottles.
So the Coravin system, it is used in restaurants now. A lot of restaurants use it
and it’s a wine preservation system that you can pour a glass of wine through the cork.
It has a needle. I’ll give you a demonstration of how it works
and you’re not opening the bottle of wine. So it’ll last longer.
So if you’re for example collect different wine and want to taste them as they develop,
you can use the Coravin. I would look up exactly how long the bottle lasts
after that fact but I do know several people, for example, who leave wines in their cellar
and go in and taste at different stages and say okay, this wine is tasting beautiful now,
let’s open it and let’s get ready to drink it.

Natalie: Excellent idea.

Lesley: I think for a several, at least seven months after but I don’t know if there’s any new,
as with the wine industry and with any other industry, information is always changing so,

Natalie: Absolutely, so you’re saying once you puncture the cork with the needle of the Coravin,
it’s good for another seven months?

Lesley: I think it’s seven months. You may want to just double check because,
and it depends on how the wine is kept and everything else but you are imparting a little
bit of gas into the wine when you’re doing it so the wine is not untouched.
You are putting a little bit of the gas in. So I’ll give you a demonstration here.
Let’s try this one here. So basically, you can use this on white or red.
They have a new system coming up for sparkling wine
so don’t use it on sparkling wines. And basically, it’s a contraption.
It’s got the needle. The little canister of gas is in the bottom here
and it’s very, very user-friendly. All you do is you don’t even have to take the capsule
of the bottle off unless it’s a preference. And you push the needle right into the bottle.
I’m going to have to do some creative, I’ll just finish this one.

Natalie: That’s good, thank you for doing that.

Lesley: And you have a spare right there. And then all you do, if everyone could see this
is you impart a little bit of gas and the wine comes out.

Natalie: Oh, wow.

Lesley: And you only want to push it once for different pours.

Natalie: Okay.

Lesley: But I do know many restaurants are using this system now so that they can all
pour some very premium wines by the glass without opening and all you do is lift it up and that’s it.

Natalie: Then the cork is still in there and because the cork is a bit spongy,
it sort of closes in on the hole you created with the needle if I understand it.

Lesley: Exactly. And so if you’re a restaurateur or you’re at home
and you have a bottle of wine that you don’t want to open because you know in two days,
the wine will start to oxidize, this system is very good for that reason
because you can use it, and seven months might be a long time
so I’m going to double-check that timeline and let you know, Natalie because I don’t want
to give false information.

Natalie: That’s all right.

Lesley: And in our world in the import world, importer world, we use it for samples too.
It can be used for top-end samples so that we’re not constantly opening full bottles.
Restaurants use it to pour those premium wines by the glass
so they can keep the bottle for weeks or months and they know that it’s not going to spoil
if they’re opening a really expensive bottle

Natalie: Absolutely. Lori asks what’s the cost?

Lesley: Well, the cost is, the entry-level systems I think are about $250 and they can go up
from there. So they’re not inexpensive but if you think about what you want to use it for
or you might be somebody that likes gadgets on wine and this is the newest technology.
And you also might just look at the cost of how much wine is actually spoiled.
Although that doesn’t really happen in our world. Not in my world.

Natalie: No. No wine left behind.

Lesley: Yeah, exactly, so.

Natalie: That’s great.

Lesley: So yeah, you have to try it, Natalie.

Natalie: I will, I will. I have to get on it.

Lesley: And you can purchase them online. I don’t know about,
there is a distributor here in British Columbia. But I would just look online and look for it.

Natalie: Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, they all have them, I think.

Lesley: Oh, okay.

Natalie: Marie-Piere says great practical gift idea. Coravin, genius, thanks for the tip.
Excellent. Jason, it’s 200 pounds for the Model One.
Okay, he’s talking about pounds so I guess double that in the UK.
Lesley, it’s already quarter to, past quarter to seven and so, yeah.
This just went like that. It’s brilliant. So as we wrap up, is there anything that we haven’t talked
about that you wanted to share and or where can we find you online?

Lesley: I don’t know, there are so many things to always talk about with wine, right?

Natalie: We’ll have to have a part two.

Lesley: Yeah, I feel like we actually just have a face-to-face having a drink of wine together.
It would be so nice.

Natalie Isn’t it great? Aw, that’s lovely. That great.

Lesley: And all your viewers and their questions. You can find me, I gave you my Twitter handle before.
I’m on Instagram as well @lesleybrown4. I’m happy to give out
so you can find me through the Canadian Association of Professional Sommelier website for British Columbia.
I think my email address and all my information is on there as well.
And never forget LinkedIn.

Natalie: That’s right, you’re you’re all over the place. And then you and I will jump back into these comments later
to just to answer and then maybe we can post your Twitter handle there as well
and other places that people can find you, CAPS and so on ’cause that would be great.
All right, well, Lesley, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
That was a fabulous discussion. Lots of great practical tips and advice
whether we’re just consumers enjoying a great bottle in a restaurant
or for those who have leanings toward getting into the industry
or thinking about becoming a sommelier. Thank you so much for all of this great information.

Lesley: Well, thank you so much for having me, Natalie. And anytime you want to chat, just give me a call.

Natalie: Absolutely, I will.

Lesley: We’ll face some time soon.

Natalie: Absolutely, that would be great. All right, Lesley, I will say goodbye for now
and enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

Lesley: Thank you, you too.

Natalie: Okay, cheers.



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