There are sommeliers, and then there are well-educated wine geeks. There’s a big difference, and it’s clear at table: While both know wine inside and out, the sommelier is a hospitality professional, at the ready to guide you to your next great bottle.
Interviewed by Erik Tennyson
Growing up in an Italian-American family that took wine and food seriously, Amy Racine always knew she wanted to work in the food world. “From the second grade I knew I wanted to be a chef,” she says. As soon as she graduated high school, Racine left Ohio for Hyde Park, New York, to attend the Culinary Institute of America.
She stayed on course to be a chef until she began the wine class portion of the cooking program, taught by longtime teachers Michael Weiss and Steven Kolpan. “It opened up a whole new realm of the culinary world for me,” she says. “Until then I used to think people just drank wine because it was fun; I didn’t understand how [wine] could be understood on a much deeper level, and how much it could bring to a dish.” For her, the realization was monumental. “It was scary; I’d put all my heart into becoming a chef, and then I took these awesome classes and saw that they were even more interesting to me than culinary class.”