I love wine, red wine specifically.
If you follow me on Instagram and have ever taken a look at my stories, you’ve seen a large goblet filled with Merlot or something like it coupled with a good read. It’s a thing and because it’s such a thing, I met up with Rob a couple months ago over at Second Vine Wine. We indulged in a wine tasting plus more glasses of wine while I got the chance to learn a bit more about his profession. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a sommelier, keep reading. If you love wine, keep reading. if you’ve made it to this sentence, keep reading.
LA: What is it about wine that sparked such great interest to you?
RH: Just seeing something go from seed to bottle. The process from start to finish. I like to see the work, the dedication and love put into each bottle.
I know that Tasting Tuesdays is your wine tasting event business. Can you explain where the idea/inspiration for it came from? And when can we expect another event?
The inspiration came when I met with Daniel Victory of Victory Bar—I was a frequent flyer over there and we ended up talking over a bahn mi and sushi from Viet Pho. I talked to them and they said I could do some wine tastings over there. I never did public speaking (hated public speaking), but I knew a good bit about wine. The first class had 18 people, second one had 33 and the third one had 47. At that point I got accepted into UC Davis, the number one wine making school in the nation and I also had four offers to different wineries out there. Everything kinda falls into place, the universe speaks to you and everything makes sense.
As far as Tasting Tuesdays goes….
As far as the next tasting, I took some time off. I’m finding more inspiration on the consulting and production side. I didn’t do any public events this whole year and I’m not in the space of forcing anything. Whatever happens, happens. Really just depends on when I feel inspired.
What was running though your mind when you realized your true passion for the production side of wine? Do you see it as a calling or something that developed over time?
It developed over time. Wine making is definitely some of the hardest work that can be done. You’re looking at 12-14 hour days…
What is your favorite part about being a sommelier?
It’s a conversation. When someone tells you what their go to drink is, it allows you to give them a personal recommendation from your experience and stories. Each bottle has a different story and history and each bottle has a different story tied into it for me.
What advice do you have for someone interested in pursuing this career path?
Try a little of everything. I never thought I’d be doing production. I thought I was gonna own a couple restaurants and nightclubs around the world—that changed. Have an open mind; try sales, hospitality and see what fits and speaks to your spirit.
What factors make a wine excellent?
It’s all subjective. I could tell you what’s good, great and amazing, but you might think it’s terrible. That’s something I learned at UC Davis, what my palate is and what yours is are two different things. You have to keep trying things—the more you expose yourself, the more you broaden your horizons and palate.
Stemmed or stemless glasses?
Definitely stemmed. Reason being, stemless is easier—but with stemless, you’re actually warming the wine and destroying the flavor. It’s cool and looks nice, but nah.
Did you ever have any doubts about your ability to succeed when you started? How’d you push through those thoughts?
Absolutely. There are always uncertainties and doubts. I went from a predominately white industry in hospitality into an even more white predominant industry in wine. There are ups and downs and you just embrace them.
What are some good food pairings for red wines in general?
Food, like regions, opposites attracts. Opposite of sweet is spicy. So if you had some Thai food, do some Riesling. There are really no boundaries; just try things out and see if you like it.
How do you network efficiently in your industry?
Tastings, tastings and more tastings. Just trying wines and being open minded. A year ago, I never liked Italian wine, but I kept trying and trying and over time I just developed an arsenal.
What skills make you a great sommelier?
Good memory. Being able to tell the story and just having fun with it. The second you lose fun in anything you’re doing, it becomes work. Remain humble and true to whatever you’re doing.
Make sure you follow Rob on Instagram to stay in the loop about upcoming events and all things wine. You really never know when another wine tasting event will be in the works and I know y’all don’t wanna miss it! In the meantime, make sure you hold your glasses by the stem and lightly sniff your fine beverage to make it look like you know what you’re doing. K byeeeeee.
peace and blessings,