Ask Leslee: Submit Your Wine Questions

Introducing a new advice feature on the Amusée blog: Ask Leslee!
Get a little one-on-one time with Sommelier Leslee Miller by asking her your most burning wine questions. They can be serious (which red wines benefit from a little chill?), practical (is it actually important to hold a wine glass only by its stem? will i look like an idiot if i don’t?), or totally goofy (what should i pair with Cheetos and licorice? junk food!!!).
Submit your questions in the comments section below, and over the coming months, Leslee will answer as many as she can. Until then, cheers!

Comments 5

  1. As a successful female Sommelier, I’d be interested to know what your thoughts are on the role of women in the wine industry. As far as I can tell, it’s very much male dominated. Is that changing and in what way?

    1. Hello Liz and thanks so much for your comment!
      Yes, you’re right, for years the wine industry has been dominated primarily by males. However, I have much respect for a number of women in the past 20 yrs that originally really began paving the way for many women in the wine world, to shape it as we are today. If it were not for women like British wine writer, Jancis Robinson who obtained her Master of Wine certificate in 1984, celebrity wine personality and chef, Andrea Immer Robinson, who achieved her Master Sommelier Certificate in 1996, and other important U.S. female winemakers like Helen Turley and Heidi Peterson Barret, I truly believe the road would have been much harder for this generation of hard working wine women.
      When I started Amusée, now 11yrs ago in February, I honestly never dreamed that my company would be what it is today! Amusée has no affiliation to a winery, a store or a distributor. With that said, I have worked very hard to create a brand that represents not only every facet of the wine world, but in the end, hope to empower those who want to be a part of the world in which we live. Along the way, I have found a number of strong mentors that helped to shape and mold my philosophies and beliefs when it comes to my place in the industry. I am exceptionally grateful for those who have helped mentor me.
      In the end, I believe there is a strong community of females representing wine in a very positive way across the globe. I can only hope to continue to be part a of that growing community as Amusée grows in other areas of my field.
      So yes Liz, I believe that our industry is changing, and in a very positive form. Not only do I see the number of women increasing in my field, but in many ways taking on more important roles as educators, representatives and role models for those looking to be a part of our future!
      Good question, Liz!
      Thanks so much for your comment.
      Have any other good questions, send ’em our way!

      1. Thanks for the insight, Leslee! I think it would be so cool if you did a class on the topic of women in the wine industry. It would pretty much rock, I’m sure.
        Thanks again!
        Liz B.

  2. Great question, Emily! And, one of my favorite topics…Bubbles (even better, Champagne)!
    For years, consumers of the world’s most expensive sparkling wine region in the world (Champagne), have only seen names like Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot, and Mumm anchor most restaurants’ sparkling lists. 70% of Champagne as a business has been dominated by these larger houses. Yet, 90% of the actual land holdings and vineyard ownership is owned by a group of small growing families. History has it that for years these small growers have sold their fruit to the larger houses as a business. In fact, many of the large house producers contract with up to 80 growers for any one particular wine, that’s alot! As a result, the large Champagne houses produce 70% of all of Champagne’s production, leaving the small growers to only make for themselves, or if lucky sell a few bottles to their local market.
    However, in the past ten years – the tables have started to turn.
    While the world gets smarter in the way of wine, and more sommeliers and buyers are paying more attention to the ‘growing side’ of the wine world and are focusing in now more than ever on TERROIR (which describes the effects of where and how the grape is grown and handled within its lifespan), the patterns of Champagne buying are changing. In the past ten years, a new genre of bubbly has emerged. As more small growers are keeping their fruit for themselves instead of selling it to large house production, we are starting to see a number of small bottlings from Champagne being sold on the market, referred to as: Grower Champagne. Producers such as Gimonnet, Hebrart and Gaston Chiquet now live in the same section of bubbles both retail and on premise next to the big dogs of the industry, making consumers think twice about who to purchase when it comes to Champagne. As exciting as it is, grower styled Champagne still only accounts for 3-5% of all that is imported to the United States, but again the genre lives and is continually growing.
    One man that has truly made a mark for introducing Americans to this grower styled bubbly is Terry Theise. Importer and wine enthusiast to the stars (LOL), Terry, has shared his passion and enthusiasm for the region, honestly, changing how many look at Champagne as a business and a region. So much so that his coined phrase ‘farmer fizz’ has become one of the most tagged wine genres in the past ten years.

    Take a look at one of Terry’s most recent statements regarding Grower Champagne, as this about sums it up:
    “You should drink ‘farmer-fizz’ if you’ve forgotten that Champagne is WINE. You should drink ‘farmer-fizz’ if you’d rather buy Champagne from a farmer than a factory. You should drink it if you’d rather have a wine expressive of vineyard, and the grower’s own connection to vineyard, than a wine ‘formed’ by a marketing swami who’s studied to the Nth-degree what you can be persuaded to ‘consume.’ You should drink grower-Champagne if the individually distinctive flavors of terroir-driven wines matter. You should drink it because it’s honest REAL wine grown and made by a vintner—by a FAMILY just like yours—by a ‘him’ or ‘her,’ not by an ‘it.’ You should drink it because its price is honestly based on what it costs to produce, not manipulated to account for massive PR and ad budgets. You should drink grower-Champagne because, like all hand-crafted estate-bottled wines, it is not a mere Thing but is indeed a BEING, expressive of where it grew and who raised it. In drinking it you help protect DIVERSITY, and diversity leads to VITALITY.”
    – Terry Theise, James Beard award-winning importer of grower champagne

    In the world of wine and all its ramblings, I think this is pretty much one of the most brilliant statements I’ve read thus far regarding the subject. And when you hear him speak on the subject, his words are even more powerful displaying his true sense of passion for the region.
    I suppose, Emily, it’s a lot like saying…let’s support our community first when it comes to business. I often times speak of this same idea when it comes to the local wine shops in the Twin Cities area. Wouldn’t you much rather support the France 44s, Thomas Liquors, Solo Vinos, North Loop Liquors or the South Lyndale Liquors of our community before you ever thought of setting foot in a Total Wine store? If there is a backbone to the community in which we live, why would you desert the bloodline that helped build, support and grow the business which brought this passion to our communities? (A whole other blog!) Again, sort of my analogy as I compare it to Grower Champagne.
    Either way, there’s a lot of bubbly to drink in the world and there are a lot of wine regions to support. In the end, I think it’s fair to consider the Small Growers in any region the next time you’re our perusing the retail shelf for a bottle of wine. You just might find a new favorite!
    Thanks again for the question, Emily and cheers to your next glass of Farmer Fizz!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *