A few Qs with Master Sommelier Nick Hetzel
Back in March, Cleveland was host to the Court of Master Sommelier's training circuit, offering the intro class to the area's sommelier hopefuls. We spoke with one of the four Master Somms in town to talk wine and, of course, Ohio.
Fermenting Ohio: When did you decide to start on the sommelier path and how long did it take to achieve the certification of Master Sommelier?
Nick Hetzel: I was offered my first sommelier job in 2002 at the young age of 23. I was extremely excited about wine and working as a restaurant manager so it seemed like the ideal job. From the time I started studying for the Advanced exam until the time I passed the diploma was about 6 years.
FO: What was an "epiphany" wine you've had and why was it such a great experience?
NH: 1978 Duhart-Milon Rothschild from a half bottle. My parents had it sitting in their liquor cabinet for 15 years and we decided to open it one year I was home from college for Christmas. It should have been a goner, but was majestic!
FO:. Could you tell us what's on your wine "bucket list", anything that's hard to come by that you hope to try in your career?
NH: There are many "blue chip" Burgundies that I have never had the pleasure of trying, but I don't think I can put those on a bucket list. I'd say that my bucket list wines have changed over the years to be more about the people I get to enjoy them with than the actual wines themselves.
FO: Ohio has a decent (though small) wine industry but it hasn't caught much attention outside the local scene (often, its only mentioned briefly in books or articles or left out completely). Is there anything that can be done to boost the industry or has it reached its peak?
NH: I think that most of the 2nd and 3rd tier states in the US that are producing wine need to first concern themselves with quality relative to their competitors. After that, it just takes one or two breakout producers to let the major wine drinking markets know the potential of a certain region.
FO: Do you think the craft beer boom seen this past decade has helped the wine industry at all or taken interest away from it?
NH: It will only help in the long run for all areas of the beverage industry to push each other to create and serve beverages to the best of our abilities.