Sitting Down with a Sommelier: Meet Anna Englehart
Anna Englehart was raised in Saratoga Springs, NY and discovered her love for hospitality and wine while working at an upscale Italian restaurant. She completed the sommelier training program at the International Culinary Center in Manhattan and moved to Dallas, Texas to further her education and career in 2017. Anna loves food, wine, and people, and continues her education with self-study and group tastings on a weekly basis with the hopes of moving up through the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Here, she answers our most burning questions about wine.
- What training did you receive to become a sommelier?
AE: I attended the International Culinary Center in Manhattan, where I completed their intensive Sommeliers Studies diploma program. After that, I passed the Certified Sommelier service, theory and blind tasting examinations given by the Court of Master Sommeliers.
- What were the toughest things to master when becoming a sommelier?
AE: When it comes to blind tasting, the hardest part is learning to listen to your senses and silencing the urge to “guess the wine.” It’s about evaluating what’s in the glass and not jumping to conclusions. The toughest part of the job is asking the right questions and listening to the answers when recommending a wine. It’s not our job to sell what we like, it’s to sell what we believe the guest would be comfortable with purchasing and enjoying!
- Tell us about the most interesting wine you’ve come across or most interesting wine experience you’ve had.
AE: The most interesting wine experience I’ve ever had was participating in the Texas International Wine awards this past February. I met sommeliers from all over the country and we participated in seminars, blind tasting practices, and service exam scenarios. I learned how to remove a cork from a bottle of wine after it has been pushed all the way in - using only a serviette (linen napkin).
- What is the most overrated/underrated type of wine?
AE: Underrated - Cabernet Franc from the Finger Lakes. Overrated - Malbec from Argentina.
- What’s the most fulfilling part of being a sommelier?
AE: I love being the voice and spreading the word for the people who put their entire heart and souls into producing high-quality wines. This is just as fulfilling as helping guests, friends, and family discover their new favorite wines.
- How long does wine last? How can you tell if it has gone bad?
AE: How long a wine lasts is a fully-loaded question. There are so many variables when it comes to the ageability of a wine – where it’s from, who made it, when it was made, what it was made from, what the vintage was like. Most white wines are made to be consumed within 1-5 years, reds average 2-8 years. Again, this is a very vague generalization, only wines made from high-quality grapes and winemakers are built to last over 10 years.
The only way to tell if a wine has gone bad is to taste it, we all have different ideas of what “bad” tastes like, typically your wine will begin to really smell like vinegar or nail polish remover when it begins to turn.
- How do you recommend people get started in the world of wine?
AE: Taste, taste, taste! Taste what you love, taste what you think you hate, and taste things you’ve never had before. If you are considering formal education, read Windows on the World by Kevin Zraly.
- If you could give one piece of advice to someone about wine, what would it be?
AE: Please don’t ever judge a wine by its grape or name. If you’ve tasted a Pinot Noir that you aren’t a fan of, that doesn’t mean you’ll never find a Pinot Noir you like. You may find a Pinot Noir from a certain area in the world, or by a specific wine maker that you fall in love with.
- What is the biggest mistake people make when it comes to wine?
AE: Relying on awards, ratings, wine applications and social media to tell you what a good wine is and what isn’t.
- What are your favorite food and wine pairings?
AE: Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time tasting for our upcoming Latin restaurant, so I would have to say Ceviche and Torrontés. My all-time classic is fried fish and bubbles.
- If a person has a short time to prepare for a dinner party, what’s the most crowd-pleasing type of wine they should grab?
AE: Willamette Valley Pinot Noir or an unoaked Chardonnay.