The Somm Set by Benchmark Wine Group






Andrea Robinson

Interview With Master Sommelier Andrea Robinson

The Somm Set Home
 

Tell us about how you first became interested in wine. What was your “Aha!” moment?

Since I was a little kid and in college, I was into food and cooking and saw a notice for a wine tasting class. I thought that seemed interesting and signed up. It was a revelation, and I was bitten by the bug.


What is your favorite food and wine pairing?

Red Burgundy or Barolo with anything truffle!


What are your favorite places in the world to travel and taste wine?

I’m pretty proud of being a Napa local and love to host people here and help them have an amazing visit. But when it comes to traveling, Italy is top for me. South Africa is also quite incredible. Both offer such great hospitality, food, and natural beauty.


What advice would you give someone just starting out as a female sommelier?

Seek quality mentorship, and that really goes to career advocacy and role modeling as to service style, behavior, professionalism, and humility. I had the gold standard for mentors in Kevin Zraly. If the Sommelier culture more broadly modeled the principles, humility, and mentorship approach of people like him, Larry Stone, and a few others, it would be more in keeping with true hospitality and a much more welcoming world for all genders and backgrounds.


If you weren’t in the wine or food industry, what other career do you think you would have been in?

Ha! I started out in investment banking and came close to staying there. I’m glad I made the switch, though.


You were one of the first women ever named “Best Sommelier in the United States” by the Sommelier Society of America, what does this award mean to you?

It was really exciting because it’s actually a competition, so I had to prevail over three other regional candidates who were all great, and then keep training for the Concours Mondial that took place in Vienna. I didn’t win or even make the podium, but it was an amazing experience. As a bonus, I got to meet Ambassador Kathryn Hall, who was serving as the US Ambassador to Austria at the time, and she remains a friend to this day. Who knew we’d end up being Napa neighbors?


What prompted you to go to the French Culinary Institute and then later become the Dean?

I was about to write my 2nd book about food and wine pairing and really wanted to amp my long-practiced but amateur cooking skills with knife skills and general professional culinary capability. It was an extraordinary experience and really clinched my understanding of the essential dynamics of flavor development and interplay and why wine actually makes food taste better. That was a huge influence on the book.


Want to learn more? Andrea Robinson will be featured throughout the month of April 2021. Check out this week’s recommendations here!


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Napa, CA 94558

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Fax: 707.255.3503
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