Food & Drink

January 20, 2013

Interview with Master of Wine, Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan

Jennifer is the fourth woman in the US to ever attain the international title of Master of Wine (MW), the highest wine title to achieve in the world. She was also honored with an international tasting trophy for her palate 2008 and holds an additional five leading wine and spirits certifications. She is the author of The One Minute Wine Master: Discover 10 Wines You’ll Like in 60 Seconds or Less and co-author of Pairing with the Masters: A Definitive Guide to Food & Wine along with Certified Master Chef Ken Arnone. Jennifer is also the author and host of five DVD series on wine and spirits with The Great Courses- The Everyday Guide to Wine, The Everyday Guide to Spirits & Cocktails, The Everyday Guide to Wines of France, The Everyday Guide to Wines of Italy, and The Everyday Guide to Wines of California. This week we chat with Jennifer and find out what goes on behind that “master glass”. I present this week’s Wine Expert in the Spotlight, Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan.

Jennnifer Simonetti-Bryan, MW

South Florida Food Tell us about
Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan:  This year I came out with two books, The One Minute Wine Master: Discover 10 Wines You’ll Like in 60 Seconds or Less as well as Pairing with the Masters: A Definitive Guide to Food & Wine which I wrote with a Certified Master Chef.  I am also a professor for The Great Courses with four wine and one spirits series with them. I am also a wine consultant, educator, and speaker.

South Florida Food Attaining the level of Master of Wine is no easy task; how did you set out on your wine journey; ultimately grabbing that brass ring.
Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan:  It took me six (long!) years to prepare and pass the Master of Wine Exam.  It’s a four-day exam including days of essays and a practical exam of identifying 36 wines blind.  It took vision (as one needs to see the goal in sight) and lots of passion (otherwise one gives up early).  It also takes lots of discipline. I studied up to six hours a day during the week and 15 over the weekends for six years while working full time.

South Florida Food As a Master of Wine, what is your most memorable wine moment to date?
Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan:  The most memorable wine moment to date was the one that started me on my wine journey. I was working for Citicorp in London and it was a business lunch where they served an herb crusted salmon and a Sancerre. The pairing was so delicious that it made me realize that someone consciously put these two things together.  I was so fascinated that I decided to take a wine course and that was it.  The wine bug bit me and here I am over 12 years later.

South Florida Food As the co-author of Pairing with the Masters: A Definitive Guide to Food & Wine, you’ve sampled and put together many combinations of food and wine; what is your all-time favorite food and wine pairing?
Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan:  There were so many as part of the creation of the book, it’s hard to choose!  The Spaghetti Carbonara with Amarone was definitely one of my favorites.  The richness of the sauce balanced gorgeously with the richness of the wine and the flavors deliciously danced on the palate for a very long time.

South Florida Food What is the best wine advice you ever received?
Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan: Best wine advice I received was from my mentor in the MW Program, Dr. Patrick Farrell MW.  He said identifying quality is about putting personal preference aside and looking at a wine’s quality characteristics (such as balance, length, integration, complexity, concentration, ability to age and typicity) as well as the wine as a whole.  He also told me to relax and breath J

South Florida Food Your sense of taste and smell are crucial to your job, what if you lost your “senses”? What would be, your Plan B?
Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan:  What a horrifying thought! In the scenario where I’ve completely lost my ability to assess wine, I would pursue another passion, such as violin.

South Florida Food Who is the one person you would love to share a bottle of wine with and why?
Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan:  Jesus’s first miracle was turning water into wine.  I’d have to ask what kind of wine and why! Or what about Winston Churchill, Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin, they all loved wine!  If it has to be someone alive today, I know you’ll laugh at me, but the one person I would love to simply share a bottle of wine with is my husband.

South Florida Food It’s your last day on earth, what would your final quaff and meal be?
Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan:  My last quaff would definitely be grand cru white Burgundy of some kind (Bienvenue-Batard Montrachet or Montrachet).  Final meal? It would have to be my Grandma Simonetti’s tomato sauce with rigatoni.  They won’t pair well together, but so what! I’ll drink the wine first and then have the meal.

South Florida Food What is the one piece of advice you would offer aspiring Masters of Wine?
Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan:  I would say to aspiring MWs to study smart, not hard.  Study actively, not passively.  Finally, make sure you get a mentor, someone to bounce ideas and questions off of.  Choose someone who has been there and where you want to be.  No one has ever achieved anything great in life completely alone in a vacuum.


Love the South Florida food scene? Check out our newly published book (Globe Pequot Press, $14.95), Food Lovers’ Guide to Miami & Fort Lauderdale

2012 Spotlight Interviews

Girl Power, Interviews with Female Chefs, Vintners and Entrepreneurs

2011 Spotlight Interviews

2010 Spotlight Interviews




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