“Wine”ing in Washington D.C.

Two days ago, I took the train from Rocky Mount to Washington D.C. to stage (that’s pronounced stahj) with Kathryn Morgan, newest Master Sommelier of the Universe and  sommelier at Citronelle.

As nervous as I was about the trip, I was also extremely excited to get more advice on how to be successful during my MS exam, coming soon in February 2011.

Kathryn is a briliiant woman, and even more importantly, a good person who is kind and sincere.  Not only did she allow me to come and watch her work the floor in her domain, but she also set up a blind tasting for me when I arrived as well as allowed me to open and decant multiple bottles of wine in the dining room during service.  Her feedback was heartfelt and gentle, and she graciously guided me in areas where I needed her expertise.

Experiences such as these let me know I am in the right profession:  the glorious  job of serving others.

Kathryn earned her Master Sommelier pin in August of this year, and she is already teaching classes for the court as well as letting potential Master Sommeliers, like me, work the floor and learn from her in the process.  It takes time and energy to do these things, and Kathryn is more than happy to do so.  It is inspiring and admirable.

When I arrived at the Hotel Latham, where Citronelle is located, Kathryn met me in her office for my blind tasting of the day. 

Three whites, three reds, 25 minutes. 
Let the fun begin!

The first white I said Gruner Veltliner from the Wachau 2008 Smaragd.  I moved on to the second wine.  After nosing and tasting and nosing again, I embarrassingly called wine #2 the same thing as wine #1.  Instead of going back, I nosed and tasted wine #3 which I concluded was Sancerre 2008.  Knowing full well that wines #1 and #2 could not be the same thing, I changed my answer on wine #1 to Albarino from Rias Baixas.

It ended up being a good call.  Not completely sure of myself, I did end up getting all three wines correct.

There is a first for everything, and this was definitely a first.

The red wines gave me a complete fit, and I changed answers multiple times:  Final:  1st red I called left bank Bordeaux, 2nd red I called Reserva Rioja and 3rd red I called Barossa Shiraz.

The results:  1st red was from Bordeaux, but not the left bank, it was from Graves.  Second red was a total bust as it was 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape.  Last red was Shiraz from Australia, but it was from McLaren Vale, not Barossa.

Not a bad tasting, and Kathy helped me a great deal on what I was doing wrong in my tasting technique.  Since our meeting, I have tweaked my style so that it is more deductive versus intuitive.  We’ll see what happens in my next blind…I’ll keep you posted.

On to service in the dining room.

Kathy allowed me to open and serve 2000 Chateau Lynch Bages, 2000 Chateau Chasse-Spleen and 2007 Continuum, Tim Mondavi’s new project out of Napa.  I also poured Graham’s 20-year Tawny tableside which was a major test, as the port glasses are extremely small at Citronelle.

We ended the night with Kathy blinding me on spirits and fortified wines.  Of the three brown spirits, I only guessed Bourbon correctly.  She jokingly said she should have never given a southern girl Bourbon…that was just way too easy.

Needless to say, I went to bed very optimistic about where I am in the process of becoming a Master Sommelier.

It isn’t often that I leave a tutorial feeling great, but in this particular situation, I did.

Sometimes you need a little boost to keep going, and my time with Kathy was exactly that, the perfect boost.

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  • Sandra Livesay

    I often wondered how one remembered to help the elf disappear!! So now he’s a wine elf! Great post!! Guess we could all use an elf.

    Your audience, friend, and teacher!

    Wish I could take credit.
    But we all know you come from a story tellin’ family and it’s in the genes!

  • Doug Harrison

    Taking the train for a weekend of culture in DC is one of Jama’s and my favorite things to do. Sounds like your trip was more business, less pleasure. Ahh, but what a great business!!