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[00:00:00] Hi, welcome to the Cult & Boutique show. My name is Daniel Patterson. I’m very excited to be joined by one of the brightest, most passionate, innovative people on the wine scene. She’s the president of the United Sommelier Foundation, the CEO of the online wine course, and recently awarded the Wine Educator of the Year by the Wine Enthusiast and featured in the 40 under 40 tastemakers for 2020.

[00:00:26] Joining us from L.A., Cristie Norman. Thanks for joining us. How are you today? I’m doing well. Thank you so much for having me. Oh, you’re welcome. Thank you for joining us. How are things over in L.A. today?

[00:00:37] Actually, quite cold. I feel like I’m over there.

[00:00:39] It’s just very miserable here today.

[00:00:43] It’s not quite snowing, but it’s not the regular 90 degree sunny days. So it’ll be like this for about a month and then we’ll be back to normal.

[00:00:51] Very good. Very good. Okay, now let’s let’s get to it. 2020 has been mad it’s been a crazy year. At the beginning of the covid pandemic, the hospitality industry took a severe hits. Now, rather than retreat, you created the United Sommelier Foundation. Now, for those who are unaware, it’s a charity set up to help mainly Sommeliers within the hospitality industry.

[00:01:18] Did it surprise you to see such positive responses from the industry with even the likes of Robert Parker’s the Wine Advocate, Forbes and Acker auction house, to name a few, getting behind it?

[00:01:30] I wouldn’t say that I was surprised. Well, first off, we didn’t intend to set out a foundation at the beginning. It really started with me and a master sommelier that I was hosting a class with. We were going to have a master class on March 16th that we had to cancel, of course, because everything got shut down the day before and we were just chatting. And he said, how can we help the somms? And I said, let’s start a Go Fund Me, let’s do a crowdfunding thing and figure it out. And so what I did was I called the most important, most reputable people in the industry that I know all over the country. So none of our board. I think actually there’s two guys in Chicago now. But originally I had one person kind of in every major market in the US and we came together because I’m twenty six years old now. I was twenty five when we got together and I needed the experience, the mentorship and just the the legal knowhow that these guys had and those relationships in the industry. So when we needed press, you know, when we needed Robert Parker’s recommendation and Lisa Perrotti-Brown offered to write us an article. We have an MW on our board. Right. And so did it surprise me? No. Was it difficult? More difficult than I thought to raise funds? Yes. The first month was a little bit slow. And then in April, we had our first large donation from Kobran Imports and they donated one hundred thousand dollars. And that really kick things off for us, really legitimised us. And I’m super grateful for them because it just started the role of what we were doing because we had so many people that were in financial crisis and need you know, they’ve all these sommeliers have been at restaurants and specifically highly trained for this one craft and usually, you know, paid as servers or managers or something of the like. They’re not millionaires typically. That’s what I mean. You know, maybe some are. But, you know, it was a very, very difficult time. So I’m glad because we were the only people that were doing it and still are.

[00:03:45] Yeah. And you’re doing very well with us as well.

[00:03:47] And so, I mean, we’re we’re we’re trying you know, we’ve raised almost a million dollars, which is really exciting. But, you know. I want to help as many people as we possibly can, so it just takes more people hearing about it, too, because I’m sure there’s lots of people who’ve never heard of us.

[00:04:06] Yeah, I know. That’s what we’re here to help spread the word, you know, make it more of a universal matter as well. And I. So didn’t you even get some form of like a backing from Jason Wootbridge’s Hundred Acre that like some form of.

[00:04:21] Actually, it’s amazing. I so I that’s how we met on Instagram. Right. I’m pretty active on Instagram and on a random Tuesday I posted about our Go Fund Me and there was a person who I didn’t know and they commented, Cristie, I want to help with the auction, please call me. And so it was 10 p.m. on Tuesday night and I gave him a ring. It was a California zip code or not a zip code, a California area code that trying to sell.

[00:04:52] And it happens to be the vice president of sales of Hundred Acre Winery. Wow. And he had all of the relationships in Napa. We had this amazing woman named three D. She worked for Morleigh for a very long time, which is another prominent Napa winery. And so they sent out these messages to their longtime friends and said, help us source some donations for this. And then simultaneously, one of my friends for a very long time who we also met on Instagram. But then in real life, his name’s Cameron. His username was Chateauneuf du Pimp and I reached out to him. It’s not his username anymore. And somebody took it, but I thought it was brilliant. And he was in Alabama at the time. I reached out to him and said, oh my gosh, your username is so cool. He ends up becoming the wine director at the sister restaurant of mine. So I worked at Spago Beverly Hills for the last five years and he worked at Kut as the wine director. And so he had relationships with these auction houses, including Aker. And so Aker was really generous in giving us part of their buyer’s premium. It’s a rolling auction. So we have you know, they have a weekly thing that they do. And so if things didn’t sell in the first auction that we had, you know, they would sell kind of along the way. And it was funny. A few weeks ago, Chris and I looked at the auction report and we’re like, wait, did that just say thirty six thousand dollars? Like we didn’t even know there, like things left in the auction, but things just kept rolling in. And it was it was very successful. But yeah, Jason Woodbridge is amazing. He donated one hundred twenty five thousand dollars from a different charity auction that they hosted. They split it between us and another charity. I mean, he personally donated twenty thousand dollars of wine. They donated this really beautiful vertical of all of their one hundred point ones. And it was absolutely incredible. So, so, so incredibly grateful for them. And, you know, with everything that’s happened to with the fires up there, it’s a very stressful time. And so we’re trying to do fire relief for them as well.

[00:07:05] Well, this year, I mean, it’s just given us everything, hasn’t it, really? And you mentioned obviously with the with the wildfires, I mean, this is what, the third or fourth year in a row now. And Napa Valley, you’ve got some involvement there trying to help people over in the Napa Valley, is that correct?

[00:07:26] Yeah, well, the USF the United Sommelier Foundation was founded in covid-19 and immediately to support sommeliers and that but our mission statement is to support families in financial crisis due to circumstances beyond their control. And so that means wherever the need is, right. Whether that means somebody’s restaurant is destroyed in a hurricane, whether there is a giant fire and their tasting room burns down and there are Sommelier working at harvest or working at a tasting room, I think that counts. And I’ve always had a very progressive view of what a Sommelier is. We don’t have any sort of certification requirements to pass. I think some people have been on the floor working at restaurants, as sommeliers for years and they don’t have any type of formal education, you know, and that’s fine for me.

[00:08:16] Yeah, well, sometimes I find myself like, um, I’ve recently I said, well, the last couple of years taken up my WSET, you know, courses. I’m up to a level three enough, but it can get quite intense often. So I’m going to put that on the backburner. But I found that most of my experiences have come. I maybe can relate to this as well, just for taste and a lot of different one. And I said just whatever it’s by itself pairing it with a meal, whereas with the company you’re with, that’s where you really get your experience from. Would you agree or disagree with that?

[00:08:49] So absolutely. I think that it matters what you’re selling at your restaurant or, you know, what kind of tasting groups that you. Two, I find that a lot of wine education, especially at the upper levels, you study so much that people never get to see or taste, and it’s kind of confusing. And for me, I don’t really care how much of Somalia knows about Greece. If they’re not selling any Greek wine, I want to know how they can sell me a really cool natural wine or something different that I haven’t seen before. A little gem or something. That really is what matters to me personally. So I think that any anybody can become a symbol if they study the basics of wine and then they learn about the products that they have. You know what I mean?

[00:09:33] Most definitely. Most definitely. And it’s and it’s fair to say, you know, you’re not just the Somalia. You are an entrepreneur at heart with many exciting businesses, projects on the go. And as you mentioned, obviously, you’ve got a very strong, positive social media presence. And it would seem that you have the dream career. You’re pouring, serving or were pouring serve and tasting some of the finest wines in the world. However, that was not enough for you. You decided to take up the initiative set up here on my wine course. From my understanding, this came about as you acknowledge that a great way to grow the number of wine drinkers would be to educate them, thus giving them confidence without being correct.

[00:10:18] So, yeah, I think the the whole point of wine education that we missed the mark on is that we want to connect with people who don’t know anything about wine. And in order to do that, you have to make somebody feel comfortable. And, you know, in my experience, working at one of the most expensive restaurants in Los Angeles, you know, of esteemed and really a much older crowd in terms of, you know, like old Beverly Hills, you know what I mean? And what I realised was that wine, education and income were not proportionally linked in any way. And nobody comes down from the heavens and tells you, oh, now here’s this wine knowledge that that’s bestowed on you. It just doesn’t happen. It’s true. And so I wasn’t a very good sommelier kind of at tables because people sometimes were just so taken aback that I was a young woman that was Asian. I mean, a lot of people just thought I was a hostess and after a couple of years, it just didn’t bother me anymore. And I just knew how to to play with it. And I could still have fun. But in terms of teaching people things, I was not the best in person because it’s a young woman, you know, telling somebody what they know maybe who’s much older. It just makes somebody feel uncomfortable. And especially I wouldn’t do that in front of guests. Right. There’s just no way for me to educate at the restaurant, whereas my boss, who’s older and a white guy, he could probably get away with some things. Right. And people might even ask him, hey, how can you help me? But for me, it was like the opposite. And so I realised that teaching behind a computer screen was the best option for me. And honestly, I need those people to be educated before they walk into the door of my restaurant. And it’s so funny because, you know, people were just like, oh, is she creating a new certification programme, yadda, yadda. And I’m like, no, I’m trying to make all of you guys more money. I want people to be able to shop by by region and not by brand. Does that make sense? I must say yeah. And to be able to communicate with professionals in a way where they can find them new fun things that they’ll like and not have them beholden to the system of PR companies that you’re winery’s that can afford PR companies. Right. And sell their brand. You really have to have a it’s like it’s like having a driver’s licence, in my opinion.

[00:12:41] Great analogy for sure. You are right, though, because again, if I’m a Bordeaux lover, I always, always will be. Don’t get me wrong. I will digress through mt Napa cabernet sauvignons, my Australian shiraz is my Chateauneuf du Pape’s from the Rhone Valley. But like you mentioned, there are a lot of people out there who may not have that knowledge. Well, you may not need to spend the type of money you need to spend on a good quality Bordeaux if you don’t have the affordability. But you can go to another region, say, within France, I can maybe like a say like a Languedoc or Provence or Loire Valley where you’re getting you get some quality that you would pay for like a premium Bordeaux, Burgundy, but you’re saving yourself. Maybe, you know, half the money you usually spend on one bottle.

[00:13:33] Absolutely. I think it’s just about showing people what their options are and allowing them the opportunity to try some of them in their own markets or whatever. Right. Because my wine course has been taken in like over 20 countries. So I can’t recommend wines for every market. But I do have, you know, the major things that you see out in the world. And I mean, it is best tailored for the US. But but it still applies, you know what I mean, like the one on one basics are kind of all the way out there, but yeah, no, I just want people to be able to say instead of I only know a lemon. And so they’re like, oh, I imagine if you only had a lemon your whole life and you said, I hate all fruits grown on trees. That’s what I feel like so many people do with wine. They’re like, oh, I have this one white wine I didn’t like. So I don’t like white wine. And it’s frustrating for me because I want to show them the world and then they can make their own decisions and then communicate things like that. Exactly. You know, you go to your local wine shop and say, hey, I love Opus One or whatever, but I can’t afford it tonight. So what do you recommend? And it’s so easy for us as wine professionals. I don’t know if you can relate, but when somebody you know, when somebody tells you a recommendation, because I’m sure you get people asking you all the time. Yeah. And so they’ll tell you, oh, I like this brand or this wine, and then you can come back and say, try this, this, this.

[00:14:58] And that’s really the power I’m trying to get people just like you said, I would sometimes be on the phone. And even though we’re doing it more from an investment standpoint, I will have a client who well, who used to be prior to Covid, will be in a restaurant, say, right, Daniel, I’m in the Dorchester, at Hyde Restaurant in Piccadilly Circus. What kind of order this is? I’m looking to spend the next month per bottle. I’m thinking, well, if you’re not kind of restaurant needs, be prepared, spend, you know, several hundred pounds. But sometimes if you even understand like a region as an example, if you’re drinking, say, from something like Pomerol as an example, you don’t need to spend money on like a Petrus or Le Pin. If you could buy like I a like a Le Gay as an example, it’s a funny name. People might be a bit awkward, but it’s a good drinking wine and you’re paying a heck of a lot less money than what you would like it off regard, right?

[00:15:56] Yeah, it’s really affordable, reasonable. It still gives you all the little things that you like about.

[00:16:02] Exactly. Exactly. And you mentioned I mean, it’s incredible that you’re already in twenty countries and even though, yes, it’s more I might be taken this out of context as I am for a lot of the more American market. Wine is a universal it’s a universal language, irrespective of if it’s in a French accent, if it’s the Spanish, American, Chinese doesn’t matter. It’s a universal language. But for yourself, you’re a visionary. Where in ten, fifteen years time can you see that, course going? How many maybe not how many countries I’ve seen that’s going to be just depend on a myriad of factors. But where do you see your on my wine course within the next ten, fifteen years?

[00:16:44] I’m well actually I, I’m already working on the online course, which is with a master Sake sommelier. I’d like to do a beer course. I’d like to do a spirit course. I would like other people with different voices to do wine one on one, like the the introductory class like I have, but in their own style, because I speak to a very particular demographic of people. There’s people that love my humour and the way that I am. But I’m actually a big proponent of other people teaching. I never discourage somebody from doing their own wine course or anything like that because we all have our different spaces and we get to all work collectively on it. Right. And so I’m working on a digital marketing agency for wineries. I think that’s a huge problem, that they don’t have really good marketing teams doing really high quality work from a wine person’s perspective, because I find that a lot of marketing teams will just kind of market to general consumers and maybe don’t do it in a way that appeals to wine lovers and wine drinkers. And so having somebody who can bridge that gap, I mean, that’s still it’s going to take a while for that. But, yeah, creating all sorts of different courses, just having lots and lots of free content. That’s really high quality and fun. Like, I love doing fun stuff. I want to have an entire album of raps wine raps because I’m ready to download it.

[00:18:11] Subscribe off the iTunes store. I’ll be your first customer for sure.

[00:18:18] I listened to him and my whole life, my babysitter listened to Eminem when I was in third to sixth grade or something, and I just loved I loved it. And I always joked around about doing something like that. And I did my first one last year, and it was so it felt really good for my soul. I don’t know if anybody else liked it, but it has.

[00:18:38] And I’m with the only complaint, the only complaint it’s in suggesting that Cristie be the only complaint I had was really getting into it, and it was over.

[00:18:48] I was like, well, you know, I watch the video that was like how to write your own rap. And within 12 minutes of the video, I was like off to the races and I made the rap in about forty five minutes. And I just I was like, and so I texted my friend who’s an EDM deejay, and he also does rap music. He also made all the wine course music. So like every section has a different theme and it’s designed to give you the feeling that I want it to give you. And he’s incredible. And he made this track and the track was just so outrageous. I mean, it’s like a Migos song. I don’t know if you listen to it, it has the sound of glasses crashing. It’s all custom corks popping like everything. And so I said, I have to do a crazy video. And I only spent, like, I don’t know, fifteen hundred bucks on the whole thing. I mean, my, my yeah. No, my friend, she was in this leadership programme that I was doing at the time was like a life coaching programme. And so she goes, oh I’m a videographer. I can help and know like five hundred bucks. I was like, sure that’s, that’s perfect. You know. She rolls up with her own red camera, at least seventy five thousand dollars of equipment total. She just rolls up on set. Wow. And I got a Ferrari for like a few hours. Super fun. Yeah. No, but I just love and it all of it came together within two weeks like it was out, it was edited in three days. Like we just, just did it just for fun.

[00:20:16] This is really honestly it was really well done. Do more of that. I want to do more of that.

[00:20:24] There seems to be more of a crossover between us and UK rap music. So, you know, if you need that UK influence, you can you can reach out to me.

[00:20:32] OK, you know, I got a little cameo. You know that man. Little chorus interjects exactly as I say, just azmy.

[00:20:40] And generally these men generally look after me, you know, but I’m all right.

[00:20:46] One one thing that seems absolutely clear from following your career up until now is your natural desire to help and improve. Speaking for myself prior to joining Cult & Boutique, I found myself slightly disillusioned. I think it’s a way of putting it, you know, with aspects of the wine world, some of which you’ve touched upon in terms of stereotypes. And there’s a certain expectation of how people should look and so on and so forth. But based on your journey, if you could change three things within the industry, what would they be and why?

[00:21:26] I would like of to be taught that they can teach other people and they don’t need to be masters to do that, because right now in the industry, people get so nit picky at influencers and people who are doing their own wine education or whatever, and they aren’t like esteemed. They are they are at a fancy restaurant. They don’t have a high certification and people just trash them. And I’m just like, we should celebrate them. So that’s one. So, two, I would love for the wine industry to actually keep up with technology and create fun stuff in apps. I mean, literally kind of in the same vein, people who are doing fun stuff on the Internet, making cute pieces of content just kind of got made fun of. And you’re supposed to fit into a box. And I’ve just never been like that. And the thing is, if we want to engage people like I made these YouTube videos that are still up, you’re welcome to watch them. And they’re called adulting with alcohol. They’re good. They’re like, yeah, well, they were they had super low production value. I mean, it was just me and my friend in my apartment. But, you know, it was a mix of wine, education and comedy. And there’s so many people that reached out to me and they said, oh, my gosh, I learnt this. And I went and tried this. And it was because I was being stupid, you know, and I was just being authentic. That’s two. And then I don’t know. Three, I think that we need to expand wine education in terms of like what people will actually see in the market, because there’s so much stuff that we study and we’re supposed to memorise all the stuff, but ultimately doesn’t really matter that much. And I feel bad saying that because obviously it matters to somebody like somebody is wine. But I’m saying the level of importance for us to memorise these useless facts and have this barometer and actually, I want to share something on the same vein, so I did I went to this programme called 40 Years of Zen in Seattle, and it’s with a bunch of scientists that neuroscientists that put, you know, measure the electricity in my brain. And I had a concussion from a car accident that I was not aware of, that it was damaging to my brain and my Broca’s area, which is the area that helps you recall words from memory. It was damaged. And over the course of that week, they actually helped repair my Broca’s area. It’s much easier now, but I can’t tell you what a failure I felt like I was because I couldn’t remember this vintage or this vineyard right off the bat. And I couldn’t I couldn’t spit it out. If I could write it, I could do it. So but it was so strange. It felt like I was being measured by how fast I could climb a tree but I’m a fish, you know.

[00:24:08] Yeah.

[00:24:09] And so I think that, you know, encouraging people to learn about new things, become an expert in what they want. And you can still be an esteemed wine professional without knowing a tiny bit about everything, because that’s really what I did. And I became a certified sommelier at 21 years old because I knew how to study, because I made connections. Right. But in terms of the scheme of the world, I had no idea. But I could. You can still get these certifications.

[00:24:36] Yeah, that’s an amazing achievement at 21 as well, because usually people I believe are way into the sort of late 20s to mid 30s before they can get to that position, especially, you know, where you ended up working. Well, via a Spago’s too is quite a quite an achievement for yourself, right?

[00:24:55] Yeah. Well, I mean, I just saw the the biggest wine list, one of the biggest wine list in the US, and I wanted to work there. I just thought that it would be the best thing. And I told them, you know, I would keep my head down and I would work really hard and I didn’t have any bad habits that they needed to  break, you know what I mean? Yes. I was a clean slate and I was you know, I had a good attitude.

[00:25:18] I wasn’t very vocal until later, you know, but, uh.

[00:25:28] But, yeah, you said you saw what you saw and you wanted to do it and, you know, if you if you believe it, you can achieve it, right?

[00:25:36] Yeah, I, I have the same sort of dream,  dream, declare and deliver and that’s the three step process. And you dream first and then you work backwards.

[00:25:48] OK, so long story short, over the summer UK wine writer slash TV show host slash personality Joe Fattorini annonomously wrote and circulated often misogynistic and toxic. What’s up? Missives under the psuedonym wine bitch. And that was basically talks and body and women writers, tradespeople, Instagram filters, etc. under the guise of satire include in many of his colleagues. These messages got out faster and he tried to stem the bleeding by contacting the targets privately and apologising. There was some a bunch of cease and desist letter that was sent out to him. And then we had the recent exposé in The New York Times and various other press outlets highlighting the Courts of Master Sommeliers and their archaic attitudes. As with many things in a world today which require such massive changes, which is, again, long overdue, what do you think is needed to change perceptions move forward as well as supporting the individuals affected?

[00:27:01] I think people need to get loud and not worry that these larger forces are going to come toppling down on them. And I know it’s very different in the UK, actually. I know one of the women who is affected. She’s a dear friend of mine and nobody knows about the situation in the US. It was the first time I ever, ever heard of it. And she told me about these messages. And, you know, she was writing an article that she’s still trying to get published, just talking about the bigger issue of bullying and misogyny in the wine industry, because it she you know, it seems as though the UK, it’s much more difficult for women here as well as in the US here I you can still be successful and be very outspoken about certain things. Yeah. Especially because of this catalyst of The New York Times. Now, I think people are getting less scared. I haven’t been very scared the past few years. I probably I got actually a lot of of hate, but it’s kind of transitioning because people kind of see like, OK, like this has been the way that she always was, if that makes sense. Yeah. And yeah. And I think that women need to keep speaking up and to call it out the way it is and it doesn’t need to be emotional. It. Doesn’t need to be bad, but just factually, and that’s what we need and we need a leadership because in the wine industry, what at least what I’ve seen is that, you know, there’s no repercussions for some of these people who are abusive or sexually harass women or whatever. Actually, I posted there was a person who was, you know, just being really terrible on like a Facebook comment. I ended up posting it and all of these people messaged me and said, wow, this guy has done this. He’s done this, he’s done this, is this. I’ve reported him to the court so many times. And I posed the question to the court, hey, so are you going to let this guy sit the Masters exam next year? Because that’s what he’s saying he’s going to do after all of these women have reported him. Right. So it’s like about the structures. There’s not enough women in power, you know, being on a board myself now, I really see how much a board affects the entire industry for what it looks like. What it sounds like is totally different. I was the only woman on my board for a period of time. We started with two and then it ended up just being me for a little bit. And then we added to women who are incredible. Some of is very in San Francisco, New York, and the vibe is different. Does that make sense, even though we’re on a conference calls? You know, I think that it’s always good to have a balance of different types of energies, different types of personalities, and especially when you’re making very difficult decisions, how it’s so important to have a lot of people that look different in the room. And it’s it’s so, so important. And so until we start doing that and really meaning it and really taking action and not just saying black lives matter, not just saying we support diversity, but really, truly doing it in hiring these people and and bringing us all in together in the same room and not at a different table until then, I don’t think that things are going to change.

[00:30:15] Absolutely. You make a great point. And obviously, I don’t want for us to go too far down the political, you know, fields here. But you’re absolutely right, because a lot of what you’ve said there has now become more of a become more of like a label than an actual than an actual movement. It’s more, you know, support the LGBTQ support the Black Lives Matter, support, you know, women’s rights, people saying it.

[00:30:39] But what’s actually going on behind it is, you know, it’s it’s it’s the the saying it on social media, but then silently, really nothing changes within the organisation.

[00:30:53] Yeah. But obviously there are women like yourself who, you know, who’s again, really your words in terms of building that follow in and you’re continuing to build up critical mass for yourself and your continue to enhance your reputation within the Wine World University. That’s that’s undoubted. But do you feel it would also help not just from the media standpoint and everything else, but for, say, sticking to the wine industry, say, a figure of authority for women within the wine industry, say a woman or some women who are not upper sort of level of established, whether it’s wine critics, women journalists who make more of a stance on behalf of the female counterparts, or do you think it’s also a combination of education internally in this male dominated industry?

[00:31:50] I think the. Just by me existing, it’s a protest by me being successful and just being is, you know, it’s challenging to some people just the fact that I look like this and I’ve done what I’ve done. And so I think the biggest thing, not only using their platform, not everybody needs to be as an outspoken social justice person as I am. I’m somebody who really always sticks their neck out for four people that I see that are being hurt. I mean, I’ve always been like that. I don’t know what it is, but I just I’m it’s like a compulsory thing. I have to if I can do something, I try to always do it. But not everybody is like that, and that’s OK. But I think that women who are successful, you work together, talk to each other and all these group chats with just women in my industry that I love and care about and creating connexion, creating community and giving out. And when you’ve done all of those things. Yeah. Then when you’ve really established yourself, sure. You speak out. But I would say like to young women who are coming up, like, you don’t need to do this, you know, I mean, you don’t need to do this. If they don’t feel comfortable doing it, then they shouldn’t. However, I do believe that people in privileged positions do get to use that platform for good and for change. And there’s there’s many women who will come after me. And I hope to make the world a slightly better place for them, if I can, you know.

[00:33:19] Yeah, definitely. Definitely know. We need to be the change that we want to see in people. And we say, yeah, good luck with on the set what we try to get behind ourselves. Because I said even here with you know, when you think of an investment broker, most people assume, you know, males and alpha males and pump your chest and whatever else. But, you know, we’ve employed our fair share of women as well because, again, we’re big believers in equality. And I say, yeah, we’re definitely with you’re not moving 100 percent. But, you know, you are very engaging with your audience. And it’s like you’re creating a community of like minded people, helping each other grow and learn what’s traditionally been that privileged industry. And timing can be key. And it feels like with the growing amount of people getting into wine and younger age demographic that the stage is yours. Do you have a vision for an improved, more approachable and diverse wine market? And what would that look like?

[00:34:23] I will. I mean, first of all, everybody would learn about wine because the fact that young people right now will pay twenty two dollars for a cocktail, but they won’t share a bottle of fifty dollar wine between four of them, that’s alarming. You know, that’s the way it is in the US. I don’t know how it is in the UK right now, but for young people, the drink of choice are craft cocktails. They are. And, you know, they’re made with some lame ingredients. I mean, like things that have been done. It’s nothing special. It’s not terroir. Like it’s not, you know, and a lot of people just aren’t drinking because they’re you know, there’s a stigma sometimes. Right. And you can I want to promote this idea that you can enjoy in moderation. And wine is something that you can share amongst people, share with friends. I would like the wine industry to become as diverse as the people that are. And actually, one of my wonderful, wonderful students and friends, her name’s Cassana, she is from the Caribbean and she’s in Brooklyn. And, you know, I was chatting with her about her vision for the wine industry and she was like, well, you know, I really want to pair Caribbean food with wine because it’s something that we normally don’t have. And she’s speaking to a whole new audience of people, you know, and creating these pairings. And she’s recommending things at the shop. She works at Brillion. She’s still coming up in her wine education. But that’s that’s how we all do, right? We all start somewhere. And so I’m really excited because it’s going to bridge this like intercontinental food and wine with so many different things. And I think our vocabulary is going to get way bigger. You know, everyone always asks me what’s the right term to use? And it’s like whatever you think. But we just have to be able to calibrate on the same level, if that makes sense. So my white peach tastes like your white peach, but if you wanted to throw in Lychee or a different fruit from your country, I remember somebody I heard this one time, somebody had said, oh, I think there’s Lychee on this. And somebody who is, I think from Thailand said, well what variety of Lychee is it? wouldn’t that be amazing for all of us to say oh actually it’s this specific type of each year. Yes. This isn’t right. And it’s so funny because we’ll say Oh Red Apple versus green apple. Well maybe we’ll all start trying more diverse foods so that we can be articulate and these other types of experimental pairings and stuff that’s being brought into our generation.

[00:36:51] I think that would be supercool, would be it would be even some of my clients, they will offer some of the taste in the eyes and try to speak to one client. And, you know, he you know, he’s got an amazing collection, a lots of one hundred point scoring wines. And a lot of them he does. He would love to go. What is this wine made of this time? Indian pot pourri or crushed rocks or cigar box or saddle leather, I assume?

[00:37:20] Yeah, you laugh and it does sound a bit absurd. But these these critics are paid good money to give their opinion and the opinion is valued for a reason, you know, but like I like you.

[00:37:35] So I go on going, oh no. I’m just saying, like, as long as we’re all speaking the same vocabulary, you can say whatever you want.

[00:37:42] You know, that’s really the beauty of it. So how’s our industry becomes more diverse? We will have a more diverse group of people, vocabulary, foods, wines that will just all expand.

[00:37:56] Definitely. Definitely. All right. Well, onto the more fun questions, I suppose, to pick of one of your last answers that with your friend over in Brooklyn from the Caribbean, obviously wanting to look pair that food with us and wines, obviously you had your you had your song that you touched upon earlier, cabernet and caviar. Oh.

[00:38:22] What are some of the parings, by the way, just for anybody watching or listening, if I can imagine something you can do, it’s the greatest item, in my opinion.

[00:38:34] Oh, what what would you actually prefer with caviar? Would it would it be would it be blue beluga vodka? Would it be maybe champagne or maybe a shot?

[00:38:44] High acid white. I think it’s high acid and white. So champagne could work. I mean, you could even do like an alligator from Burgundy. Do whatever you want Chef and Bong. Like, who cares. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, and I don’t know, you can probably do with the red. You maybe like a really light red. I don’t know, Beaujolais Pinot Noir. Yeah, yeah. Yeah exactly. Cangemi me or something. I’m so many options. Yeah. I don’t know that I would do that though because again they’re still tanon and so Tanen the, the bitterness in the skins of the grapes, there’s chemical that reacts with fish oil and it actually creates a really gross like it’s an actual thing that combines and it’s absolutely disgusting. It’s a it’s a really bad, almost like rotten flavour. That’s and and so that’s why I say it’s the greatest sin, because you buy this thousand dollar bottle of cabernet sauvignon and you get this two hundred dollar caviar and you put it together and it creates the most gross combination ever.

[00:39:41] There are better ways of spending money if you’re going to have the food and wine.

[00:39:46] But aside from the caviar, what are some of the more bizarre pairings you’ve been a witness to?

[00:39:57] Bizarre, like bad or good or bad?

[00:40:01] Both want to. Not both.

[00:40:03] You know what I love with pizza. I just love Barbera and pizza. That’s just my favourite thing ever. And I don’t know. What do I mean? What do I do? I drink this week.

[00:40:12] Oh, I mean, I know this is kind of like been done, but demeanour and Indian food. I actually tried it the other day because Bergström are super powerful, kind of like spicy, like honey ness from all sorts. It’s just like delicious and paired with really fragrant Indian cuisine with Kuman. And it’s brilliant together because with Indian food it’s very intense. Like you can usually smell it when you’re in the room and demeanour is something that matches it and intensity. And so when you put them together, it was actually super brilliant. I tried it with my friend Olivia the other day and I was like, this is great, good parent.

[00:40:52] That’s good. What about what about. Because obviously, you know, my partner should always cook a lot of Southeast Asian food, again, being from the Philippines. And, you know, there’s a lot of talk about Rieslings being part of a Southeast Asian food. What would you say? That’s just more of a a myth rather than a facts, or would you say that’s more a matter of opinion rather than the facts? Or would you say that is it going to?

[00:41:16] I have a very broad, different way of pairing food and wine. It’s one of my favourite things to talk about, actually, because, you know, basically pairing food and wine is like decorating an apartment. Right. And there’s big pieces of furniture that the food and the wine bring. Right. So the wine brings a certain level of acid, for instance, or sugar. And then the the food brings charred, barbecued, whatever the method of preparation is, these big things. And so really, as long as the pieces of furniture kind of work together in the room, all the. The aroma is all of the other nuances of the wine or the food are kind of like decorations, if that makes sense. They’re not like like superimportant to the actual structure. So I believe that there’s millions of different wines for one single dish, whereas some people are like, no Shibly and oysters only. Right. And I’m not like that. I think you can do whatever and it doesn’t matter. And sometimes if it doesn’t work, you just use you just drink water in between. But I have really never been like, oh, this is disgusting. This doesn’t work together, you know what I mean? I don’t care. And I feel like it’s much more enjoyable and it gives people the reigns to be able to make choices, make mistakes and just try new things. And so for a lot of Southeast Asian food, like if there’s I know some Filipino really great pork dishes, I love Riesling with pork because it’s high acid and it cuts through that fat. But you could simultaneously you could do something I say, like you can either balance or accentuate the dish. So if you had a high acid Riesling that cuts through the fat of the pork, that would be that would be like balancing it. Right, because you’re like cancelling them out. But you could also accentuate the dish. So maybe you get something that’s big and vicious and wide, like a chardonnay with. Oh, right. Who knows. Who knows what’ll happen. Right. You just get to try new things. And it’s funny because sometimes the balance, you know, pairing is the one that people liked the most and sometimes it’s the accentuate version. And it really you just have to play around with it.

[00:43:17] Yeah, definitely. Definitely. All right. And obviously we were speaking before, you know, via social media. And I remember I also said, oh, have you have you ever been to the U.K.? Have you ever been to London? And you mentioned you hadn’t yet. Once there is some normality in the world, we are allowed to travel. Would you ever come over to London? Yeah, of course.

[00:43:41] Are you kidding me? Everybody is so nice. And I love going out with you guys all the time.

[00:43:46] I feel smarter just being on this podcast with you right now. I do. I swear.

[00:43:52] This is the last episode of the podcast. Now, because of you, you’ve really you’ve really massage my ego there. Thank you so much.

[00:43:58] But no, we honestly, because we up until when lockdown happened, we had we had Adrian Hoffman, who flew in purposely to a podcast of us, and we had an intimate taste in the Ivy in Richmond. And it was amazing. We do regular wine tasting events. And obviously, if you are to come over, you know, would you be open to doing something like that with our clients, giving us something like a wine and food pairing like Masterclass?

[00:44:32] Of course. I mean, I’m always happy to do that if I’m over there. Dude, you’re going to see me for sure. We’ve been friends for a few years. Like, you know, I really believe that on social media, you kind of attract your own tribe. And I’m very open about how weird I am.

[00:44:47] And so I feel like a similar type of weirdness is attracted to me, like, you know, I mean, we’re both like even though we might be very different and you might be a little bit more intelligent and articulate and stuff like that, you know, we’re still of the same vein and of the same mission and creating accessibility and getting people into it. And so I always try to make an effort to see people whenever I go places. I’ve never been to Europe because I was born in Japan, and so I would always go back home to Japan to visit my family. And so I’ve literally never gone to Europe. So I’ve been in New Zealand.

[00:45:22] But that’s the only really cool place I’ve gone to, is anywhere within Europe that you would like to go aside from, say, London.

[00:45:31] I mean, you know, I’m still hopeful. Yeah, but everything it’s hard to choose. I I’ll get there eventually. That’s why I think, you know, having an online business was where I was part of the appeal for me, too, because I really like to travel and I like to to go places. And so right now I think I’m just grinding building the community here. And then I would love to move over and build the community and other places and hang out and do fun stuff, you know. But yeah, I’m always I would totally be down to hang out with all of you guys.

[00:46:01] That’s perfect function. Obviously, going back to you’re not sure I that entrepreneurial attitude. I wanted to make those changes. You know, you mentioned recently you read a lot of books, most notably, you know, or recently, should I say, who moved my cheese, what was a six page fable.

[00:46:28] But it’s a great mindset. Mindset. Yeah.

[00:46:31] Classic is a classic. And I’ve just finished read them one by a Dr. Wayne Dyer. I can see clearly now that that’s a game changer. Would that would just change change your outlook completely, you know. But yeah. For you a for yourself. What are some of your other. Was, I suppose, which helps keep you grounded, helps keep you focussed and helps allow you when we’re dealing with adversity, to continue to push through. Aside from, you know, the reading, would it be exercise based? Would it be the outlook on your life? How do you approach life, I suppose?

[00:47:09] Well, we get up before we get off the book thing, I just want to say Blue Fishing by Steve Sims and the four hour workweek week. So good blue fishing and the four hour work week by Tim Ferriss. I’m a really big proponent of outsourcing. And that means that doesn’t mean just to another country. That means outsourcing the things that I’m not good at. And so what I do is I rate the things that I do on a scale of one to 10 on how much I hate them and the things that are rated the highest I let other people do because I want to leverage my strengths instead of focussing on my weaknesses. Because what happens with me is I will get so stressed because I am not using my time efficiently and I’m wasting too much of emotional space in my brain and heart and mind, trying to do things that I suck at. And so every day when I feel stressed, because ultimately I’ve never been as busy as I am, I mean, I have I feel like I get I do get probably five hundred miles a day based on all the core sign ups or notifications with that, of course, completions. You know, like I get a lot of emails every day and a lot of requests from people that I don’t want to miss. And and honestly, sometimes I have these breakdowns where I get overwhelmed and I miss things. And so it’s constantly I think about refining as I’m growing. I need to expand the way that I organise that I need to do. And also I sit for an hour every morning without my phone. I take one hour every morning and I get up early. So like 6:00 a.m. ish. And I do not look at my phone for an hour because I want to wake up and have peace before I start seeing emails from the East Coast.

[00:48:51] All right. I just and just lastly again.

[00:48:56] Yeah, I’m very envious of of a lot of the ones you’ve been able to to deal with yourself. And I’ve seen, you know, sample. But is there is there one, I suppose is on that bucket list, whether it’s a specific brand or, you know, from a specific region and a specific vintage here that you’re like, OK, this is like I suppose you’re I’ve made it moment, not literally OK, you know, whoopee do I’m done now. But you’re like, this is why I got involved in this in the first place.

[00:49:27] Yeah, I very clearly I fifty nine Haut Brion and sixty one Margaux. I had them at the same time. Somebody gifted them to Wolfgang. Actually it was his birthday I think, and they had me open it. They were serving it and they told me of course like taste it. And I, I cried because I never liked Bordeaux. I was opposite from me. I tasted all this Bordeaux, you know, because that’s Spago. People would bring in all of their collectable wines, which was really awesome. But I just didn’t, you know, younger Bordeaux. It’s cool, you know. Eighty two Lafite. Oh, OK. Like, it was good, but it wasn’t like like so passionate. I could see how it’s very good to know shade to that producer or anything, but it’s more about like I didn’t I didn’t fully get it and then I got it when I had, you know, sixty one Margaux I felt like. Wow, like this is what wine is like, and this is why people like Bordeaux so much. This is why they hold it, because it was on a completely different level. I really did like that. It’s here like I just I just had to go.

[00:50:34] I can relate. I can relate. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So. All right. So for me, my Grace, one was the Penfold’s Grange 2008. You know, the. Oh, yeah, yeah. That was the I was I was fortunately fortunate enough that Robert Parker was actually doing a tour of of Europe back in twenty fourteen. And so he was at this major fine wine shop called Hedonism Wines, which I will take you to when you do come over. You would you would love it. And you got sample several, you know, 100 point scoring wines. And the Penfold’s Grange 2008 for me was just it’s just you. I still remember it. So to say this really well, once it’s ingrained, it’s ingrained, you know, and it’s really good. But all right. Just just lastly, then, you mentioned, of course, Bordeaux. I not exactly here Mishu, but it’s not. Yes, it’s Bordeaux. What for you is your your go to region?

[00:51:35] Oh, that’s so hard, honestly. Well, I can tell you some lines that I like, OK, well, I really enjoy Alsace just in general. I think it’s so complex and just beautiful and everything. I just I usually like it, not always make me happy shots enough if I just am having you know, I don’t really like very tanneke heavy reds for the most part, like in the right scenario. Sure. But if I’m just like enjoying on my day off, you know, I just usually don’t I think it just has to do with pilot fatigue a little bit because it’s just heavy. But Torbreck Run Rig, one of my favourite wines. It’s Aissue Shiraz from Barossa, and it is ridiculously good if you have not had it. I highly recommend it immediately. I only like group of wines that I have in my fridge right now that I really don’t touch. Really, really, really like. I would cry if somebody opened them because aged Torbreck is insanely good. If you like Aussie Shiraz you got to do it.

[00:52:34] Cristie, you’re you’re preaching to the converted honestly. Right. This is like. Can you sorry. Excuse to see those, the boxes that’s already on the ground with you. Could you open up. Could you open.

[00:52:45] Literally. This is an empty bottle. I don’t know sir, but it’s not the Run Rig, it’s the Laird.

[00:52:52] But I know Torbreck Run RIg is amazing. It is insane. It’s beautiful. And well we’ve got a box here which I don’t think we can be open, but it’s the Struie still Torbreck, but still no torok. Absolutely nuts. Yeah. Yeah. You have a great time when you come here. Honestly, you you will leave with a few bottles as well, that’s for sure. That’s fine. Christie, I want to say honestly. Massive, massive. Thank you for joining us. Honestly, really appreciate you’ve got a lot going on. I said you take some time to obviously do this with us. Really. Thank you. Whatever we can do to help support your causes, we will definitely, you know, do for you as well. I just want to say thank you very much. And for those who are interested in any online wine courses, feel free to click on the links that we will we will be providing. Be educational, be fun. You got to drink some great wine. And more importantly, he will have more confidence when we’re allowed back into the restaurant. So thank you very much for joining us.