AT YOUR SERVICE: ADVANCED SOMMELIER KATIE ESPINOSA
September 08, 2017
When did you start working at The Bartolotta Restaurants?
I started in 2002 and have worked in a variety of positions including my start as a server at Lake Park Bistro. Additionally, I have had the pleasure of working at the Ristorante Bartolotta location we had on Downer Ave., Mr. B's Steakhouse in Brookfield, and then Bacchus. Now I oversee Ristorante Bartolotta, Pizzeria Piccola, Bacchus, and all of our airport locations.
You oversee the operations at several of the Bartolotta Restaurants, you are also an Advanced (Level 3) Sommelier? What does that mean exactly?
Being a sommelier is about hospitality and helping to create memories and experiences whether people know a lot about wine or not. The Court of Master Sommeliers is one of the institutions that has created a certification program for Sommeliers. The highest level is becoming a Master Sommelier, and the three designations before that are Introductory, Certified and Advanced. My Advanced Sommelier test included a written exam, a blind tasting of 6 wines, and a service exam, which is an integral part of why I love being a Sommelier. It is about connections, relationships, and a love of service.
What inspires you to keep learning about wine?
The guests that I encounter, and the people that I work with, hands down. I love working with all of the different chefs in our company. My Executive Chef, Nick Wirth, at Bacchus has been a great partner. I understand his flavors and he understands my palate. It makes writing a menu and doing events a lot of fun. My husband, Zach, is also a chef and it is fun to cook with him at home and try different wines.
What is the most difficult thing to master when it comes to wine knowledge?
I really don't feel like I have mastered it (and probably never will!); wine changes and grows over the course of its life. Wine does not exist in a static environment, there are so many factors that can alter the product including time, weather, and other elements outside of our control. Sometimes that can be maddening but it also makes it exciting because you can never be done learning.
If you could only drink one wine for the rest of your life, what would it be?
That is a really hard question, it probably changes on any given day. I do love Champagne, anyone who knows me knows my passion for bubbles! I also love dry white wine from Alsace, specifically Riesling, white Burgundy, Barolo, and Italian Wine. If it is well made, I will likely enjoy it!
What do you like to do when you are not taking care of guests and studying wine?
I enjoy spending time my husband and our new puppy, Lupo. Family is everything to me, and I am lucky that I live so close to my sisters. We have regular family dinners, and it fills my soul to be able to share a good meal with people I love.
Do you have a favorite wine region that you have visited? What is it?
I wouldn't say a favorite, every region has its own merits but I have been to Napa/Sonoma more than anywhere else. It is so beautiful and the people are so friendly. Amazing restaurants and wineries. It is really special.
How many Level 3 Sommeliers are in Milwaukee?
I am the only Advanced Sommelier in Milwaukee.