Mattie Jackson F&B-Sommelier Q&A
Whether you’re a bonafide oenophile or just a weekend wine drinker, it’s always exciting to expand your palate while exploring the latest and greatest wine trends! In the spirit of the new year Mattie Jackson, owner and sommelier of SALT & VINE in Nashville has put together a list of her predictions and recommendations that will keep your readers on the forefront of what’s new in wine in 2017!
At age 26, Jackson is not only a restaurant owner, she’s also a certified sommelier who relishes the exploration and education of unique wine! A Nashville native, she is embracing the opportunity to educate her beer and whiskey-loving home town on the nuances of great wine. Her goal is to make wine more approachable by taking it off its pedestal and putting it back on the table
(photo credit: Hannah Schneider; Interior pic: photo credit Josh Gilmore
Everyone Has A Story. Tell Us How You Knew You Wanted To Become A
Sommelier…What Was Your “Light Bulb” Moment?
Growing up I was always into cooking, eating, flavors in general. During a summer study abroad in Greece, that love of food began to creep into wine. It was such a part of their every day life there – the history, the people, the art, the culture. I was hooked. I wanted to be able to share those wines and tell the stories on behalf of the people who made them.
What Does A Typical Day At Work Look Like For You?
The business owner side looks much like you’d expect. Lots of coffee, emails, and problem-solving. The sommelier side constantly stretches my mind and my palate. I write monthly for our 3-tier wine club as well as for other local food & wine publications. We are constantly changing our list, expanding our Bottle Shop, and hosting wine tasting classes for both guests and staff.
What Is the Most Rewarding Thing About Your Profession?
The way someone’s face lights up when they discover a wine or a pairing they didn’t yet know they loved. It’s one of the most abstract and rewarding journeys to facilitate for a person.
What Is The Most Difficult Part Of Your Job As A Sommelier?
Encouraging guests to step outside of their comfort-zone. A bottle of wine is always a gamble. Helping someone extinguish that fear to find something new is always a challenge.
What’s The Wine Culture Like In Your City? Any Regional Trends You’ve
Catching up. Nashville’s market is slowing building itself to mimic major metropolitan ones. While I doubt we’ll ever see distribution on New York or San Francisco’s scale, the diversity of product has grown exponentially in the last five years. Value-driven Old World wines are slowly taking the place of big brand domestics. We also caught our first pandemic wave of the rosé trend in 2016. Everything pink.
Which Wine Region Is Top On Your List Of Places To Visit?
What Was The Biggest “Break” That Helped Launch Your Career?
I was blessed enough to secure the one harvest intern position with Napa Valley’s illustrious Joseph Phelps Vineyards in 2013. Spending half a year in Napa debunks the fairytale of wine and immerses you in the Nitti Gritty of it – the business and winemaking itself. I cleaned tanks, scrubbed barrels, and hand inoculated yeast strains. It was defeating work. But I learned the science behind the product I loved and the toil of each hand that goes into it.
What Advice Do You Have For Someone Considering A Similar Career Path?
Work in every facet of the business. Before opening SALT & VINE, I set a prerequisite to exhaust every position in the industry. Retail, restaurant, education, production, sales. You never know where your strengths will lie, and a 360 degree understanding of any industry is paramount to long-term success.
What’s Next For You?
Furthering education will always be crucial for myself and my career. I’ve just enrolled in the WSET’s Diploma of Wine Studies program. I’m hoping to complete all 6 units within the next 3-4 years as SALT & VINE continues to find its roots in Nashville.
And The Biggest Challenge?
Every business, especially in hospitality, sees a honeymoon phase. Having just passed our 6-month mark January 1st of this year, we must reset our minds and our passions every day to fill this place with the energy and freshness that defines the brand.
What’s The Wine Scene Like In You’re City/State?
Please see answer above.
What Was The Last Wine That Really Made An Impression On You?
2005 Trimbach Cuvée Frédéric Emile Riesling. The crazy contrasting layers of flavor and seductive oily texture are unmatched by many aged whites I’ve experienced. Plus, I couldn’t even legally drive a car when the wine was made, but it’s still vibrantly alive today – how cool is that?
If You Could Change One Thing About The Wine Industry, What Would It Be?
Accessibility. Premium wines should not be reserved for just the knowledgeable or the privileged. Expertise should not breed exclusion or snobbery but inclusion for anyone open to celebrate the beverage. At the end of the day wine is a grocery meant to be shared, not coveted and harbored by a “worthy” minority.
What Is Your Definition Of Success In Your Industry?
Always learning and opening others’ minds to want to.
Lastly, what do you do when your relaxing?
Drink whiskey and watch films. I hold a BA in Creative Writing, so I love clocking-out of life for a bit and into a highball glass and a well told story.