WITH ERYN DAWE
On becoming a Sommelier:
Wine can be very intimidating. In hindsight, when I started working in wine focused restaurants, I really knew nothing. I realized quickly that the world of wine involved so many different facets, how does one find a starting point? I was very fortunate, when I began my wine journey I had the privilege of working with a group of knowledgeable, passionate sommeliers who were all as eager to teach as I was to learn. I started breaking down information into basics, for me that meant geography and history. Two subjects that have always interested me, it just seemed natural.
I, very quickly, became obsessed. Wine had a innate ability to bring people together. Friends or strangers, beginner or connoisseur, wine was a barrier breaker. I’ve always loved how a glass of wine has the ability to take someone to a place they’ve never been, introduce them to people they may never meet and show them a piece of their world they didn’t know existed.
After 2 years of listening and learning I decided to start my journey to become a Certified Sommelier and applied to begin training with the Court of Master Sommeliers. I was certified in March of 2016 and am currently preparing for the Advanced Certification exams.
On her experience at MeNa:
At MeNa, we offer a blind tasting menu. Guests have the option of a 5, 7 or 9 course menu with optional wine pairing. As a sommelier, I feel so fortunate to be working with this style of menu. Our dishes are built around traditional French cuisine, however, Chef Bratsberg incorporates many different influences. This in turn allows me to work with wines from all over the world. You will often see traditional French pairings, however, the goal is to find the right wine regardless of it’s origins.
Working at MeNa has been such a pleasure for me. I have the opportunity to introduce wines to our guests, spend time explaining why I’m pairing each wine to each course and offer as much information as possible about their history, producer, production method, etc…and of course why it was chosen as the pairing. We really try to build our guests’ experience on a individual basis. Some guests want to enjoy the simple pleasures of a thoughtfully paired menu, while others want all the ins and outs which I am always happy to oblige. We try to make the entire experience approachable and comfortable for our guests. I love the casual back and forth conversations, the feedback and especially the ah-ha moments.
Food and wine pairing really is such a thoughtful process. Countless hours of reading and research, learning how to combine flavour profiles and although there is much science behind what we do, sometimes it’s just instinct.
When trying to find the right pairing there is often a period of trial and error. Do I want to compliment or contrast? Often times, what should work in theory simply doesn’t, so it’s back to the drawing board.
In the end, my hope is that our guests see the two sides of the experience as one. The dish and wine are both made better together. Those are my favourite moments.