Welcome to our newest series, The Somm Set. Each month we’ll be sitting down with a guest sommelier and uncovering their guilty pleasures, cellar staples, and everything in between! Follow as they hand-select their favorites from our warehouse, giving you the inside scoop on cellar must-haves!

This month on The Somm Set, we’re excited to feature Advanced Sommelier Jodi Bronchtein of Press Napa Valley. Join us as we explore everything from her aha-moment sip of wine to her current adventures in the Napa Valley.

Read Our Full Interview With Jodi Bronchtein
Jodi Bronchtein on Under The Radar Napa Bangers
Antinori Family Raid Y(our) Cellar Virtual Tasting
Syrah & Musical Pairings
The Somm Set Home


This week from Jodi Bronchtein:

Late summer is holding on here in Napa, where it is currently gorgeous. As a sommelier who works in a restaurant, I am happily a night owl. I have found recently that eating dinner earlier (on days off) relaxes me and allows more time at the table to catch up with family and friends. But that is obvious. But also, a big part of it for me is the preparation part of a meal. White wine sipped on while listening to music and preparing a first course is a welcome luxury for my overactive brain and my overworked and tannin-inundated palate.

Acidity. For some, it is a dirty word and often used without explanation. Acidity in wine is like salt in food. It enhances and refreshes the palate. A crisp white will lift the experience of tasting while cooking and almost always click with whatever you come up with as a first course. 

Syrah is music, art, and poetry to me more than any other grape. A melding of senses in the most synesthetic way; it is percussion and passion, elegance, and smoke. In what way, you say?

Maybe you don't drink white wine with dinner. Or drink it only in summer. I encourage you to reconsider. Think about what you eat daily; a fish dish, bigger salads, spicy take-out? Consider wine an ingredient in what you are making and consuming: one that out-punches its weight class in versatility. I have had dinners that are just two things; a simple dish and the wine that transforms the dish. My favorite go-to? Frozen dumplings sautéed with soy sauce, garlic-chili sambal, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil. Throw in some chopped greens until they wilt and add a glass of Riesling as a pairing. The gorgeous aromatics of this noble grape contrast with the umami and spice and the wine's acidity cleans up those flavors in between bites. Every time I take a bite, the flavors are new again because the Riesling has done its job. In spades. This one works whether the Riesling is dry or has a touch of sweetness. Off-dry Riesling cuts the heat and will have your tastebuds dancing. One from Alsace will bring some body and power and finish dry as can be. 

Another one. A night in with a pork roast, sweet potatoes, or the winter squashes that are debuting in the market? Chenin Blanc will match the meal's body and weight while adding aromas of baked apple and honey... Vegetarian dishes with Gruner Veltliner add herbaceousness and white pepper. Want to change a fish dish completely around? Try a basic baked fish dish with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Now with a Chardonnay. One adds body and an expansive, richer mid-palate (Chardonnay), the other adds bright citrus, chopped green herbs, and green pepper (the Sauvignon Blanc).

Champagne is not just for oysters and celebrations; it can handily lay ruin to oily, fatty foods in the best possible way. Champagne is for a Monday, cutting through the density of gooey cheese pizza. Or French fries. It pairs with almost anything and is underutilized on the dinner table, overrepresented paired with wedding cake. No (something off-dry is way better). All foods convenient and crave-able.; schnitzel. Enchiladas, fried chicken, mac and cheese, cheeseburgers, tacos, charcuterie, and cheese plate? Champagne. I told a vibrant guest I was writing this post, and she added, "Potato Chips in the pantry, hiding from the kids." Sure, or on the couch, but with crème fraîche and caviar when they go to sleep. Champagne is an elegant and useful tool in your wine fridge/shelf on a fridge arsenal. It belongs in your life. 

Whatever your situation, current or moving towards the holidays, having a variety of white whites chilled and available will elevate your experience and high-five your food in a way that reds cannot. Trust me on this and try a pairing of your own tonight. 

It has been my pleasure this past month to connect with you all. We have shared the allure of Syrah, some amazing, small Napa producers, and of course, a day in my life during the fires. They are 98% contained, skies are again blue, and the nights cool, featuring all the stars. We are grateful here (CalFire and friends!) I'll see you soon as there is certainly more to come in the future. Wine is to be shared, even if we cannot all be together, we can "research." Until then, happy researching! Use this season to take care of yourself and those you love. Thank you for having me.

Check out all the wines mentioned below!

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