This week’s Balanced Babe,Catherine Fallis, is a dedicated and knowledgeable wine expert who holds the most coveted award in the wine industry and the ultimate credential for a wine professional: Master Sommelier (and may we add the 5th woman in the world to obtain this title)! She also made history by becoming the first Wine School Coordinator/Sommelier at the famous Manhattan restaurant, Windows on the World. Catherine is known as the “Grape Goddess” and you can find this consummate wine professional online at www.planetgrape.com, a go-to source for everything you need to know about wine.
Today Catherine shares her story, what she learned from her mentors, and of course, the benefits of wine!
BB: Tell us about your journey to becoming one of the world’s top wine experts and having such a coveted award: Master Sommelier [ səməlˈyā ]
It all started when I was galavanting around Europe with a Eurail pass, backpack, and a $5 a day budget for food and accommodations. I was amazed that I could drink wine daily! Read this excerpt from my upcoming book:
“So, at barely twenty, we backpacked around Europe, from the beaches of Cinque Terre to the Black Forest, from Sevilla to Crete. Equipped with street smarts, wanderlust, and a keen thirst, we tried everything we could afford on our paltry but sufficient Eurail budget. From the sweet, succulent bite of my first peach in Paris, for which I gladly paid the equivalent of about $5 (so much for being a savvy, hard-bargaining New Yorker) to the bitter, intoxicating café correcto in Madrid, a much better deal at .35 cents, I discovered a whole new world of sensual pleasures. And a new sense of pride – not in myself – my self-esteem barely existed as it was – any time it came out of hiding I’d find a way to send it back to its cave – but in these French people.” “[..] Oh, and at lunch everyone was drinking wine. Non-descript wine, in carafes, served without any fanfare in this casual bistro. Beaujolais perhaps, or Chinon – simple light inexpensive unimpressive red wine. This is what the Parisians drank? But where was the fuss, the fanfare, the typical Frenchman sneering down his nose and chortling derisively “heh heh, but this is no good.”? Why were the French typecast as snobs? Specifically as food and wine snobs? Was Julia Child the only one who could demystify the temple of French cuisine?”
BB: Were there any special mentors that really made the difference in you pursuing the top of your field? What advice did they give you?
Madeline Triffon MS – taught me to stand up straight at the table, be proud to be a Sommelier, and to go in and finish my exams at the 7th hour. She told me to put the blinders on, like a thoroughbred, and finish the race.
Kevin Zraly of Windows on the World taught me everything I know about being humble and down to earth. He still wears a Timex watch and is the author of America’s best selling wine book.
BB: We are dying to know. What are the benefits of wine?!
Ha – well, I am not a medical professional but as a single mom running a small business I cannot imagine life without wine. It makes motherhood possible and in fact really does aid digestion. Personally I think it works well in moderation along with a healthy plant based diet like they enjoy in the Mediterranean. Red wine in particular can be beneficial, just as the most highly colored fruits and vegetables bring the most benefits.
BB: Can you give us a few healthy appetizer ideas that you might pair with a Cabernet or Chardonnay?
Crudité with Hummus
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Pan seared Salmon finished with a splash of the wine
Brazil nuts, pecans or walnuts
Grilled pork or beef kebabs
Grilled eggplant with Sumac and olives
BB: What is your daily routine like when it comes to running your company?
Some days are in the office writing, researching, advising. Others are in the field – speaking, consulting, tasting and meeting with winemakers and their importers and PR teams. Home office days are nice because I can stay in jeans all day. In public requires more effort getting out the door, but I love my work so much. It makes me so happy.
BB: How do you maintain the Balanced Babe lifestyle?
Lots of exercise. Biking, Kenpo Karate, walking on the beach, weight training – it all helps. Healthy diet low in meats and very high in leafy greens. Wine nightly with dinner. No work after 6pm unless absolutely necessary though I do work many weekends. Quality time with family and friends. On occasion, if I can spare a half day, I go to Nob Hill Spa and alternate between the cold pool and hot steam room after an intense workout there.