Eileen Duffy is well known on Long Island's East End. She co-owns a wine shop in Westhampton, has been a writer and editor for a local newspaper and, now, is the Sommelier at The Frisky Oyster (beware: annoying website) in Greenport, NY. And now, she's joined the blogging world with Cellarette. Her foray into blogging will chronicle her work at 'the Frisky', her journey on the way to a Master of wine, and (we can hope) a lot of information on local wines.
She has also inspired me to bring back the LENNDEVOURS Q&A series, where I ask a few questions of people in New York wine country.
What (and where) was the first bottle of wine you remember drinking?
Someone had given my non-wine enthusiast parents a bottle of 1970 Mouton Rothschild -- the one with the Chagall label -- for a present. It sat in the basement for years until I was in high school. I convinced my mother to open it. It was vinegar. But something made me want to open it. Before that, there was the jug "Rhine Wine" that I ended up throwing up when I was in junior high.
What event/bottle/etc made you decide that you wanted to be in the wine industry?
I always waited tables while I was in school; the wine thing grew out of that. In an effort to get out of the restaurant business, my ex and I bought a wine shop. But now I'm baaack. Also, I am extremely sensitive to smells. This is a good way to take advantage of that.
At the Frisky Oyster, the wine list is designed
to be in constant flux. We buy one case of something (two if it's local
wine) and then change it out. This keeps me busy tasting. Right now
there's a Ferrer Bobet 2005 Priorat on deck to be on the list. It's
such a beautiful wine; the first vintage from two young men who are
looking to do nothing more than create beautiful wine from the steep
hills of Priorat. It's old vines carignane, grenache, syrah and cab. So
mineral and linear with complex fruit flavors that end up rounding it
out. We recently poured the Bedell 2007 First Crush red by the glass.
Made by John Levenberg, it's a delicious, simple, ready to drink wine
from a great vintage. The cab franc/merlot blend could easily be
someone's house wine.
What has surprised you most about being a sommelier (and shop owner) on Long Island?
The wine world is small. And that people consistently confuse fruity wine with sweet wine. "Is it dry?" is a question I get a lot. I usually throw something in about residual sugar, but it invariably gets me nowhere.
When you're not drinking wine, what other beverage most often fills your glass?
Right now it's water. Oh yeah, and after a trip to Mexico in January, tequila.
Is there a 'classic' wine or wine and food pairing that you just can't make yourself enjoy?
I rarely opt for a California cabernet. Lettie Teague wrote something in the last Food & Wine asking sommeliers which wines they hated. One said all California Cab tastes the same. I had to agree.
Wine enjoyment is about more than just the wine itself. Describe the combination of wine, locations, food, company, etc. that would make (or has made) for the ultimate wine-drinking experience.
a trip to Italy in Modena, I ate tortelloni with a reduced balsamic
vinegar sauce and drank with it a Lambrusco. The dish was on nearly
every menu in town, so it must be like pizza in New York, the
competition makes it so good. I still think about it.
Other than that, I can always think of a reason to open a bottle of Champagne.
Don't forget to check out Eileen's blog Cellarette.