It is the era when women are equal to men and we have to say “Move over, men of the wine world, and make way for the sommelière!”
Alright, it is so stereotypical for the sommelier to be something like – male, balding, condescending and probably French. Please delete all those lame memories and replace it with this phrase ‘women are dominating the new wine scene’ and people don’t have to be suited old wine bore to make a living as an oenophile.
First thing you can see as the drastic change is that last year’s Young Sommelier of the Year was a woman: Kathrine Larsen. And Gordon Ramsay Holdings and the steak group Hawksmoor are among those to employ female sommeliers. So the change is most noticeable in some of Britain’s top restaurants, where women are now just as likely as men to help diners demystify the wine list. Emily O’Hare, head sommelier for the past seven years at the River Café in west London, has helped to blaze the female-led trail, which spans pop-up wine “sessions”, mobile wine bars and some of the capital’s hottest new wine bars. “People aren’t stopping at food; now they want to understand wine. And with wine there’s so much to know,” says Ms O’Hare, who at 33 is one of the older oenophile cheerleaders. So it’s the body of proof that industry experts believe the wine revolution is the natural successor to its foodie forerunner.
Charlotte Sager-Wilde, 29, who opened Sager + Wilde, an east London wine bar with her husband Michael last year, employs Paisley Tara Kennett as the bar’s general manager. Ms Sager-Wilde said: “There’s a cycle: in the 1990s it was about cocktails, then coffee, craft beer, and now it’s time for wine. There are more women coming through across the board, especially as managers. They are leading new types of events, all aimed at making wine more approachable. One such example is London Wine Sessions, a one-day wine fest this Saturday featuring talks and plenty of tasting.
Ruth Spivey, 32, perhaps epitomises the new oenophile. The former model launched a wine car-boot fair to try to appeal to a new type of wine drinker. Maybe girls veer down a more fun, approachable route. Maybe because being women, so wine seems more approachable to other women.
If this is enough to make the archetypal red-trousered wine-lover of yore reach for his spittoon in disgust, he can take comfort from the fact that the changes don’t go down well with everyone. Some people are just very old-fashioned about wine in general and that’s a shame. The nose for a woman is more delicate. They are more precise. It’s very important to have a balance between men and women, because women have a different perception from men. So let’s see what’s next in the battle of sexes or should I say the harmony between the sexes. We’ll see!