Shanyn Ward is a WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) Diploma graduate and Okanagan sommelier. Image contributed

Shanyn Ward is a WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) Diploma graduate and Okanagan sommelier. Image contributed

Wineology: The role of a sommelier

Check out Okanagan sommelier Shanyn Ward’s new bi-weekly column

Training to become a wine professional, such as a sommelier, takes years to accomplish.

Just when you think you have mastered one piece, another component, which you had not yet considered, becomes evident.

The quest for wine knowledge is a never ending journey.

It is as much reading and memorizing as it is sensory. It’s training your nose and palate to pick up aromas and flavors, understanding textures and how different adaptations affect them. It’s how a wine looks; how brightly coloured it is, how those colours change with age, how the wine swirls and the velocity in which its slides down the side of your glass.

Having an in depth knowledge of wine means you love geography, you draw maps to understand where vines grow; how the mountains, hills, rivers, lakes and valleys affect how the wind blows, how strongly the sun shines, how sheltered or exposed regions are from rain and snow. It is a lesson in history, as well as a prediction for the future. It is understanding a global market and how consumers shop. And then there is the food component! Because who doesn’t love perfectly prepared food paired with your favourite wine?

The role of a successful sommelier or wine professional is to gain as much knowledge possible, to understand influences, follow trends as well as remembering and appreciating classics, in order to share and educate consumers. We are here to guide you, answer questions and get you excited about trying something new. Whether you are looking to expand your cellar or you just want a great pizza wine; whatever your budget, we have recommendations.

What I am loving this week: 2011 Peter Lehman Semillon from the Barossa Valley in Australia.

I have an (unapologetic) obsession with Australian wine. Semillon is a grape that is often over looked or not properly understood by most consumers, but ask a wine maker and they may just tell you it is one of their favorite grapes.

It’s a grape with high, fresh acidity, it can smell and taste quite neutral in its youth. Given a few years to develop, this wine takes on aromas similar to Riesling – cooked citrus, herbaceous and wonderful minerality contribute to the refreshing complexity of this wine. This variety is generally unoaked, however Bordeaux Semillon can be found with some. It is a grape responsible for some of the world’s greatest sweet wines, such as Chateau d’Yquem. This is a perfect gift for a wine collector. For food – I would pair this with a fresh white-fish dish and roasted asparagus.

Until next time, be adventurous, trust your sommelier and write me if you have any burning questions or just need a recommendation.


To check out past Wineology columns, click here.