Wine knowledge can be a bit intimidating, but it certainly doesn’t have to be. Certified Sommelier and owner of Cru Cellars, Jennifer Bingham shares 4 tips on how to build a relationship with Somms at your favorite local restaurants and ultimately order wines to your liking.

Written by Jennifer Bingham, Owner of Cru Cellars

  1. Don’t be intimidated! Somms are just people who drink a lot of wine, so from that experience they know all the fancy terminology. They are here to help, and most are on a mission NOT to be pretentious.
  2. Make a little effort. Somms work hard on developing tastings and wine dinners for their clientele, so if you want to get to know the one at your favorite restaurant, try to attend these events and connect with him or her.
  3. Learn some lingo. See the box on the right for the many different aromas found in wine. Pay attention when you are tasting (drinking) wine. Try to pinpoint some flavors you really like and really do not like. For example, you could tell the Wine Lady: “I love the red fruits that you get from Pinot Noir, but I want a little more earth and spice in my wine tonight.”
  4. Be honest. Tell the Somm about that delicious Frappato (medium bodied red from Sicily) you liked that you tried at a wine shop last week. Also, share feedback on wines he or she recommends for you. These comments will allow the wine person to tune into your taste and keep showing you wines you enjoy!


For our top wine pics read DEEP IN THE VAULT: Expanding your Wine Experience with Tampa Bay’s Best Selections.

Wine Lingo

White Wine:

Citrus Fruit: lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange (Sauvignon Blanc, Albarińo)

Tree Fruits: apple, pear, peach, apricot (Pinot Grigio,Chardonnay, Godello, Riesling)

Tropical Fruits: pineapple, melon, mango (warmer climate Chard, Marsanne, Viognier)

Red Wine:

Red Fruits: cherry, strawberry, cranberry, raspberry (Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Grenache)

Black Fruits: blackberry, black cherry, black currant, blueberry (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec)

Dried Fruit: raisin, fig (Zinfandel, Nero d’Avola)

Both Red and White:

Floral: rose, violet, lavender, lilac (Nebbiolo is known for having rose petal notes)

Oak: vanilla, coconut, dill, smoke, baking spice (Rioja often has a strong dill aroma from ageing in American Oak)

Earth: mineral/wet stone, flint, soil/earth, wet leaves, petroleum, slate (many Red Burgundies—Pinot Noir grape—have soil/earth notes, and many Rieslings have notes of petroleum…in a good way!)

Jennifer Portrait - Photo Credit Ray ReyesAbout Jennifer Bingham

Jennifer Bingham is the owner of Cru Cellars in South Tampa. She is a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Masters and holds the Diploma certification from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust.