We sat down with Weekly Tasting Master Sommelier and founder of Corkbuzz, Laura Maniec, to find out more about her background, how she fell in love with wine, and so much more! See what she had to say below.
What was your first experience with wine?
I first became involved in wine when I was 15 and helping out at the holidays. I would open the wines and help pour them for everyone. A year later I went on to be a cocktail waitress at an Italian restaurant. People would come in and order a carafe of White Zinfandel or of Chablis from a box and I remember thinking all they really wanted was white or red, but if they ordered Pinot from the magnum, they were more serious.
What do you love about wine above all other drinks?
Wine is about a story - it has the people, the places, the culture, the language. When you visit geography you can incorporate the important things like travel, food, and wine. I know whiskey and beer has a story but I feel wine is even more involved in all of my passions and has taken me all over the world and enabled me to teach and communicate. Beer for me is great and I know there are stories and nice people but I don't find it as deep as wine.
What is your favorite food & wine pairing?
I used to say Champagne and french fries, but I am into more complex dishes these days. Corkbuzz has this amazing lamb ragu made with exotic spices and served with pita and apricot. I love to pair that with a Moroccan wine we serve by the glass (for the moment), Ouled Thaleb Aït Souala Arinaoa 2012 Zenata.
Which wine changed you?
I dont know! I think I was just starting out at 22 and I went to Blue Ribbon in NYC and it was one of the few places open past 2 am. They had a Kalin Cellars Semillion 1991 vintage from the Livermore Valley in California. That was one of the first whites I was ever amazed by and It changed my opionion that it could be just as good as red wine.
Before this experience I thought white wine was what you drank with snacks or while you waited for the red wine list. Kalin was the first wine I was impressed by and I still love it to this day!
How did you learn about wine before the Somm Exam?
I used an old fashioned Sotheby's wine companion, along with study groups, and just trying tons of bottles. I also asked a ton of questions. Being in the industry helped as a wine buyer and meeting with wine makers and being inquisitive helped me learn so much.