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Meet the Sommelier: MASTER OF WINE Christy Canterbury

In 2014, renowned sommelier Christy Canterbury was short-listed for the Roederer Online Wine Communicator of the Year Award. Her work has been published in Decanter, Wine Enthusiast, Edible Green Mountains, Wine Searcher, Food Arts, Snooth, Beverage Media,, Civiltà del Bere, Wine Business Monthly, TASTED, Selectus Wines and in other outlets. Her recent and upcoming appearances include ViniSud, ProWein, VinExpo and TEXSOM. She judges at competitions around the world and is a Panel Chair at the International Wine Challenge. interviewed Christy about her fascinating career.

When did you first become interested in fine wine?

Considering my first sip of wine was a severely bad Provençal rosé from a (surely) exceedingly average cooperative (many of those organizations are the exact opposite today), I can't say my intro to wine was spectacular. Mind you, I have nothing against rosés (I drink cases of them a year, in fact) and nothing against less expensive wine. This particular one just left me wondering how people could take pleasure in liquid so insipid.

Happily, I was intrigued enough about the idea of good wine that I remained brave enough to keep sipping. My exposure to "fine wine" really started after university when I started working in investment banking. Then, I moved to Paris for work, wine became part of my lifestyle.

What are some of your personal qualities or talents that have enhanced your career?

I love to travel, to talk to people and to learn. All are critical to developing a sense of the wine world. The wine industry is a close-knit, global community, and there is so much to learn about wine that one is never finished.

Who have been some of your professional mentors or individuals that have inspired your work?

I am grateful for many inspiring voices along the way. However, as some people find voices that keep them engaged for decades, I find that as one grows the voices change. While I was studying for the Master of Wine title, I found that my best mentors were my study pals: Jean Reilly MW, Mary Gorman-McAdams MW and Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan MW.

Tell us a little about your travel experiences as a sommelier.

I've traveled broadly while working and still do. Case in point, I'm off to France for 72 hours tomorrow. I have opened restaurants in international locations like Vancouver, Doha and Istanbul. Moreover, I speak at conferences in destinations ranging from Buenos Aires to Bucharest to Tblisi to Izmir. Even in countries where wine takes a back seat due to religious concerns, there is typically a lot of interest in learning about wine. In some places, it is seen as an everyday consumable while in others it looks more like a luxury product.

Why do you find your career as a sommelier so rewarding?

Making peoples' eyes light up with discovery is incredibly exciting. Connecting people to a place, a story, a lifestyle, a variety's revitalization, whatever it may be, is instant gratification! The research to find those wines is fun, too, even if it also requires tasting lots of less pleasurable wines.

What is one of your favorite meals and what wine would you select for it?

Weiner Schnitzel - any Grüner Veltliner from the Kamptal, Austria but especially Hannes Hirsch's Grüner Veltliner Ried Lamm. AND Boeuf Bourguignon - anyone's Gevrey-Chambertin Lauvaux Saint-Jacques but especially Denis Mortet's Lavaux Saint-Jacques (made by his son Arnaud).

Tell us a little about your most current work.

For the last six and a half years, I have worked for myself, writing, speaking and judging wines as well as consulting for restaurants. Before that I worked for Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group and Culinary Concepts by Jean-Georges as well as Italian Wine Merchants. Today I travel about one-third of the time, getting a sense for wines across the globe - in vineyards, in wine bars, in competition. I love getting to understand the pulses of many different marketplaces.

You can follow "Christy Canterbury, Master of Wine" on social media @canterburywine. And visit her web site:

"I'll Drink to That Episode 290: Christy Canterbury, Master of Wine" is now on SoundCloud & iTunes.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Christy Canterbury

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