In this episode, we discuss wine pairings on multiple dimensions. First, Bryce Wiatrak interviews Master of Wine Susan R Lin MW about her career as a classical pianist and how her first passion inspired the topic of her MW Research Paper: pairing Champagne with classical music. Then, Bryce and Christopher Tanghe dive into a friendly debate to settle the question of whether wine and food pairings are all they’re cracked up to be.
This month’s blind tasting segment with Emily Nixon features sommelier Jonathan Eichholz. Are you able to recognize the wine based on Jonathan’s description alone? Wanda Cole-Nicholson also reveals the wine she tasted in last month’s Managing New & Old Vines episode.
Click here to play this audio clip
Susan Lin, MW is the Head of Wine Expertise for online fine wine retailer Belmont Wine Exchange. As a consultant she curates wine collections, designs wine programs, and specializes in wine and spirits music pairings and events. A lifelong devotee of music, Susan is a classical pianist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in Classical Piano Performance and Musicology. She has performed internationally as a Chinese classical and folk dancer.
Susan was named Master of Wine in February 2021 upon the acceptance of her research paper, Influences of classical music on the perception of a Brut non-vintage Champagne. She enjoys working with performing arts organizations to grow their audiences through innovative programming and events, integrating wine whenever possible. Susan is based in the San Francisco Bay Area.
During her conversation with Bryce, Susan describes three classical pieces she used in her Master of Wine research. Listen to them on her Apple Music playlist.
Jonathan Eichholz is a sommelier in New York City. While he studied neuroscience and history in college, his focus soon shifted to wine after spending a summer working at Murray’s Cheese. Since graduating from Colby College, Jonathan has served as a sommelier at Michelin-starred restaurants Aquavit and The Modern. In 2019, Jonathan was named Best Young Sommelier in America and Second-Best Young Sommelier in The World. He is an Advanced Sommelier, Certified Cicerone, and New York hip-hop aficionado.
Early in the episode, Wanda Cole-Nicholson returns to reveal the wine she tasted with Emily in the Managing New & Old Vines Episode in July. If you haven't heard Wanda's tasting description yet, listen to the final 11 minutes of that episode. You can find the wine here.
Wanda's wine and spirits career began in Chicago’s fine dining restaurants and institutions, including ¡Salpicón!, Mercat a la Planxa, NaHa, Blue Water Grill, Kendall College, and Triton College. She is the founder and principal of VinBev, which provides a host of wine consulting services, and is also a wine specialist for Grapevine Wines and Spirits in Kirkwood, Missouri.
Wanda’s formal education includes the Advanced Sommelier certification from The Court of Master Sommeliers and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Missouri. She has received the Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator, an Award of Distinction from Wine Enthusiast, and a DiRoNA Award of Excellent, among other awards. Wanda resides in Chesterfield, Missouri with her husband and twin five-year-olds.
Fascinating how someone from Guildsomm seems to want to belittle and negate a big part of what being a Sommelier is. Also, many cuisines around the world seem to have directly evolved in relation to the structure of wines available and vice versa.
You have every right to your opinions and I am glad you stand behind them. I shall have mine own and always welcome professional discussions.
Hi Kyle, thanks for listening to the podcast and for your feedback. By no means am I trying to belittle the role of the sommelier – I have infinite respect for the position. As a journalist, I try to approach everything with a sense of skepticism – and I would just as easily question many of the things that are staples of the wine writing profession (scores, listicles, etc.). Among them would also be writing about food pairings! Admittedly, this conversation did take a turn toward hospitality – but the concept of food and wine pairing is something I see touted in every corner of our industry. Based on my own experiences and a healthy amount of research, these are the conclusions I have come to.
I stand by my opinions, but I understand and respect that there are many counterviews like those of Chris, and I would imagine yourself, just as there are many wine professionals who have shared thoughts closer to mine. I do welcome any debate and hope this sparks some dialogue.