In this interview, I pick wine writer Jameson Fink’s brain to understand who he is and where he is going in the wine world. Today, he writes frequently on his own blog with a motto, “Wine without Worry” and is a Contributing Editor at Grape Collective. He also travels frequently across the world to learn and share his wine adventures. I know he loves beer, cider and champagne, but what else did I uncover in this interview? Read on!
What did you do before getting into the wine business? How and when did you develop an interest in wine?
I did customer service work and tech support for a benefits consulting firm, among other places. I refined my phone manner, recited scripts, and developed the patience of a saint.
I got into wine in college (Grinnell College) cooking mainly vegetarian meals with a group of friends and experimenting with what to pair with them. (The food, not the people. Though some personalities lend themselves to certain wines….) I worked for a while in restaurants, pursuing the chef thing (including a memorable internship with the pastry chef at Blackbird, which was awesome) in the evenings and on weekends. But being surrounded by so many front-of-the-house wine enthusiasts lured me out of the kitchen.
If you weren’t in the wine industry, what would you be doing?
I’d get my PhD in something that involved me being semi-monastic and reading a ton of 19th century literature .
What’s the craziest wine spending decision you ever saw a customer (or yourself) make?
The first time I ever bought an entire case of the same wine. It seemed like such an extravagant thing to purchase wine you weren’t going to drink all of in one evening. This was around (the year) 2000. I went to The House of Glunz (a very traditional, old-school place that fits your most irrational fears regarding a wine shop) in Chicago and bought 12 bottles of a 1985 Vouvray. Each one was really fascinating, and some of them were spectacular.
Is there a certain wine region you fancy these days? What makes it special?
It has been, and always will be, the Loire Valley at the top of my list. From Muscadet to Sancerre, and everything in between. Loads of diversity, both geographically and stylistically. Sweet, dry, sparkling, red, rosé? All of the things are there.
What do you think is the most versatile wine and why?
Sparkling wine, most definitely. Nothing refreshes your palate like it. So it works with everything from salty snacks to fatty meats. Do you know what else sparkling wine pairs with? LIVING LIFE!!!
Are there any wine bargains out there that you think are undervalued and worth seeking out?
Cru Beaujolais, Muscadet, Bordeaux Supérieur, Monastrell, Portuguese reds and whites, Cava and Cremant, Sauvignon Blanc from Chile.
If money were no object, what would you be doing right now?
I’d be sitting on a beach at the Bay of Fires in Tasmania.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to get involved in the wine business today?
Attend as many free/cheap tastings as you can at retail wine shops. You can learn a lot and meet people in the industry (sales reps, winemakers, importers, etc.) who are pouring behind the counter. And you may get to know the staff and management well enough to be hired.
What would you like to be doing five years from now?
Making a little bit of wine and seeing all the media projects I have floating around in my brain and in various stages of development come together.