A Varietal of Questions for Master Sommeliers Michael Jordan and Peter Neptune in Celebration of the 4th Annual Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival
Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival is a world-class epicurean lifestyle event taking place Sept. 29 and Oct. 1. Festivities include one-of-a-kind dinners by celebrity chefs and local masters; taste bites from 40 different top restaurants with their executive chefs; sips from over 250 varieties of wines, spirits and craft brews; VIP events; celebrity chef cooking demonstrations; master sommelier tasting panels; interactive mixology courses; and more throughout the weekend.
Given that wine is listed before food in the event name and September is California Wine Month, we took the opportunity to talk to two of the sommeliers included in the talent line-up for the Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival. Michael Jordan, Director of Global Key Accounts for Jackson Family Wines, is one of just 15 people in the world to be named Master Sommelier and receive a Certified Wine Educator diploma. Peter Neptune, founder of The Neptune School of Wine, also is a Master Sommelier and Certified Wine Educator.
Q: Some people may not even be sure how to say sommelier, can you tell us what one does?
PN: A sommelier provides beverage service at a restaurant, encompassing all aspects of hospitality and service and making the guest feel at home and comfortable. The sommelier also manages pouring costs and inventory on the back end.
MJ: Sommelier is a wine service professional – key word there is service. They are responsible for all the beverage service in a restaurant or hotel. In regards to pronunciation, I’d suggest SUM-EL-YAY or SUMMEL-YAY. That’s the way I learned it!
Q: How do you encourage the wine curious to get started?
PN: Take a class (hopefully at Neptune School of Wine in Costa Mesa)!
MJ: Go to your local wine bar! Taste as many wines as you can, so you can find the ones YOU like! Try as many wines as you can, if you get the chance.
Q: Any tips for the more advanced wine enthusiasts for these types of events?
PN: Taste wines that you are not familiar with, you might find a new favorite.
MJ: Create a game plan before you begin. Look at the list of wineries and select those you want to try first. Time flies and the wine you really wanted to try might be gone by end of day
Q: It seems like a food and wine festival is a great time to break the rules, ie. reds with beef and whites with fish. Do you have a favorite unusual pairing?
PN: Sparkling wine goes with everything.
MJ: No rules anymore! Pinot Noir with Fish!
Q: We know it’s all about rosé all day, but what else is hot in the world of wine right now?
PN: Wines from Portugal.
MJ: Wines from Oregon, and Sonoma county…it’s time to rediscover Santa Maria Valley and Carneros!
Q: Do you have an all-time favorite wine?
PN: Hard to say, but I love Barolos, Brunellos and Northern Rhones.
Q: Anything else you want to add?
PN: Have fun, take a Lyft/Uber to and from the event, and try things you are not familiar with.
MJ: Try wineries you haven’t seen before. Most of all…talk to the winemakers and engage with chefs. Ask them questions. They are there for you! Sign up on wineries’ email lists. You’ll get access to wines many people will never see!