Welcome to the first column of our new series 5 Questions for a Wine Pro. With each column, we will find wine experts – like winemakers, sommeliers and Masters of Wine – and get insight into their journeys, their education and their ultimate love of wine.
This week, we met up with Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, who is a Master of Wine, one of the wine world’s highest and hardest designations.
A little history about the Master of Wine:
- The Institute of Masters of Wine began in 1955.
- Mary Ewing-Mulligan MW was the first American woman to receive the MW in 1993.
- In 2008, Simonetti-Bryan became the 4th woman to receive the MW.
- Eight years later, there are 30 MWs in the US and only 13 women. There are only 341 Masters of Wine in the world.
- The main difference between the Master of Wine and Master Sommelier is that the MS is the top credential in the world for individuals working in the hotel and restaurant beverage services. The MW is more for educators and winemakers and focuses more on grape-growing, winemaking and maturation and the business of wine.
Simonetti-Bryan is also a Senior Partner at Wine Ring, an online platform that lets users identify wines based on their personal characteristics and preferences.
Awesome stuff, which is why Simonetti-Bryan is our inaugural guest for our 5 Questions series. If you have additional questions for her, let us know.
1. What's your go-to wine at home after a long day?
I’ve recently moved to Los Angeles and since the weather here is like an endless summer, I’ve been into light, crisp whites. My favorite go-tos this year have been the Sigales Assyrtiko ($25), Portlandia Oregon Pinot Gris ($25) and Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc ($17).
2. What trends are you seeing in the wine world ?
I’m seeing consumers, retailers and sommeliers depending less on any specific critic or specific magazine ratings and leaning more on their own tastes. Additionally, people are more adventurous than before. I think technology has really propelled this.
3. How did you know you wanted a career in the wine world?
A business lunch changed my life. I was working for Citicorp in London and during a corporate client meeting they served Salmon and a Sancerre. I knew NOTHING about wine and the pairing just blew me away in a positive way. It occurred to me that this was the intention and I never thought about it in that way before. After that, I became insatiable in knowing all things wine.
4. Why don’t more women hold the MW?
Honestly, I think it’s because women are under a lot more time/work/family pressure in their 20s-40s, than men. No one wants to hear this, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many of the women who became Masters of Wine in the US either had no children or had children AFTER they became MWs not before.
5. What’s you're favorite wine pairing?
Just one? Impossible. Right now I’m thinking of tempura shrimp with champagne - the minerality of the champagne brings out the flavor in shrimp and tempura batter brings out the baked bread notes in the champagne and the acid of the champagne cuts right through the fat of the frying which prepares you for that next delicious explosion of flavor.
Tracy Byrnes is editor-in-chief and chief contributor to The Sip. She was an anchor/reporter for the FOX Business Network and launched an online wine show and podcast, Wine With Me, for foxnews.com. She thinks the world would be a better place if more people drank wine.