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Interview with Laurie Forster, the Wine Coach.

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Laurie Forster – the Wine Coach

Laurie Forster is many things, including a life coach, a stand-up comedian and a trained sommelier in her current instantiation.  Previously she was in corporate America as a software sales executive, so this is quite a transformation.  All in all it’s a pretty impressive array of talents, and I was lucky enough to get the chance to speak with her this past week about wine and her upcoming appearance at the Greenwich Wine+Food Festival, happening October 3-5 in Greenwich, CT.  We’ll be covering the event and will also be at her show.  What I really wanted was some inside info on her thoughts about wine and some of the basic tenets we tend to live our wine lives by.  Here at RedWinePlease! it’s about finding great value wines and drinking what you like.  That said, we do need some additional education in pairing wine with food (among many other things), so here was a chance to learn from an expert.

Laurie’s journey is an inspiration for me, as I want to spend my time writing about and experiencing wine, food and travel when I eventually grow up.  I think it’s what I was sort of meant to do, and she did it.  While I can’t see myself trying the stand-up comedy part, and truly admire her ability to do that,  the wine part I can relate to.  It turns out that stand-up comedy was on her bucket list, and now she can cross it off.  When asked about the pressure of not only getting up in front of hundreds of people, but having to make them laugh, she replied she had lots of experience speaking in front of groups, but stand-up was and is “a whole new level of potential rejection.”  In spite of that she’s just done a full length show at Carolines on Broadway (one of the most famous stand-up comedy clubs in the country), so clearly she’s getting past the possibility of rejection quite nicely.  Probably not for everybody though.

So there might be some life lessons along the way here.  I will spare those who read this blog any philosophical revelations should they occur and will instead keep to our topic, which is wine.  Having ten years plus in the wine industry certainly gives Laurie a perspective I don’t have.  Here’s a few of her insights.

On tasting wine and some critics ability to pull endless aromas and tastes out of anything, Laurie pointed out something I had sort of dismissed.  “There’s a significant difference when tasting wine in a professional setting.  We’re trained on a tasting process that includes thirty steps, and you are tested on the process.  Some professionals can’t separate that approach from a more consumer level.”  I guess that’s true.  Maybe I owe an apology to the critic I anonymously cited in my earlier blog, Gumdrop? Are you kidding me?  But then again, maybe not.  Laurie doesn’t seem to have any problem bringing the wine discussion to the level of the audience (in this case me), and I would think most professional critics should be able to as well.

On pairing wines with food she had some very practical advice,  “Don’t be afraid to get out and experiment.”  This mirrors what you’ll see on her website, where she’ll advise that you pick up everything you can find at the grocery store and smell it, as it’s apparently all about training your sense of smell and taste, with smells and tastes you can identify.  I couldn’t agree more, and remember when we bought some red currant jam to see what the critics were talking about when they described most Cabernets.  One spoonful produced an “Ahhh, that’s it” moment.  Laurie also suggests a few standard practices, such as matching the weight of the wine to the food, or heavy to heavy and light to light.  Also, salty foods are going to beg for a wine with some acidity.  It’s all about the chemistry.  This is clearly a subject that deserves a lot more study on our part.

On her impressions of overall wine quality improvements in the last ten years, I asked if she agreed that in general quality across the board has dramatically improved.  She definitely agreed, citing how “technology has progressed and has eliminated a lot of previous problems.”  This isn’t to say you still can’t find a bad bottle, but it is far less frequent.  She is also not worried about the great increase in other specialty spirits and craft liquors, as well as beers, cutting into wine’s popularity; she feels that the increased awareness will help the entire industry.

One of our favorite words on this site is value, and this is another subject on which we seemed to agree.  Laurie focuses on finding great wines under $25.  She’s probably got a little more money than we do because we like to find them at $15, but we’re saying the same thing.  You don’t have to spend giant dollars to get excellent wine.  She does feel that you can make a pretty significant jump in quality going from $10 to $20.  And by the way, Laurie is not going to take offense if that great bottle of wine comes with a screw cap.  As she put it, “as long as what’s inside is great.”  Of course I agree in principle, but part of me has this emotional attachment to pulling that cork and hearing that pop.  It’s not rational, it just is.

As for what’s in her cellar?  The Wine Coach has a soft spot for bubbly, and not just Champagne.  One of her favorite wine areas is Piedmont, and she loves Barolos, Barbarescos, and pretty much everything from that region in northwestern Italy.  Other favorites include Austrian whites and “anything from Alsace.”  So now I have to try some Alsatian wines and find out what that is all about, which will admittedly fly in the face of our RedWinePlease! theme.  Of course we also drink whites occasionally too.

Laurie’s goal as The Wine Coach is to teach and take the mystery out of enjoying wine.  As she puts it, she’s out to “demystify wine, one glass at a time.”  I know I learned a few things in our brief conversation, and am looking forward to seeing her in Greenwich.  When I think about it she is one of the most practical people I have met, considering her current skill set.  As a life coach she should be able to figure out what will make her happy; as a comedian if she does get depressed she can cheer herself up; and if for some reason it still manages to go wrong she certainly knows what to drink!

WF2013_Logo1Laurie will be appearing at the Greenwich Wine+Food Festival on Saturday, October 5th at 2:30 in the Celebrity Sommelier and Mixologist Tent.  You can learn more about the festival at their website here.

You can learn more about Laurie and a lot about wine at her website, http://thewinecoach.com/.

I really appreciate her taking time to talk with me.  Maybe we’ll see you there.

A votre santé!

 

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