15 Minutes With The World Wine Guys

World Wine Guys interview
Meet the win pros, Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen

As much as we love a good glass of wine, choosing the right bottle requires a little bit of know-how (especially if you're still hooked on the boxed stuff). We spoke with The World Wine Guys — Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen — for their no-fail tips on becoming a semi-pro sommelier:

How did the two of you initially meet?

WWG: We were both training for the Boston to New York Aids ride and started riding bicycles together to get ready for it.

What is the one bottle that sparked your interest in becoming a wine professional?

WWG: It wasn't a bottle—it was a whole region. After that first three-day charity bike ride we took a bicycle trip through Burgundy and that ignited our passion for wine.

What's your go-to bottle of choice for a night in at home?

WWG: Lately, we have been enjoying The Calling 2012 Russian River Valley Chardonnay. It's got really good mouth feel and just the right amount of oak. Plus, it works equally well with the last tomatoes of the season and butternut squash.

Favorite wine pairing?

WWG: Now that the weather is getting a little colder, pasta with red sauce and Zinfandel.

One misconception people have about wine that drives you crazy?

WWG: Many people think you have to be an expert in order to appreciate wine, which is total nonsense. If you don't need special training or a high degree of knowledge to eat a meal, then you don't need any special training to enjoy a glass of wine.

What advice would you give to someone who knows little to nothing about wine?

WWG: Try wines by the glass at wine bars, and go for single-varietal choices so you can start to understand the flavor profiles. For example, look for Chardonnay or Syrah or Pinot Noir rather than a bottle with a “fantasy" name that is a blend. That way you can start to develop your palate and make choices that are aligned with your own sense of taste.

Favorite unconventional wine pairing?

WWG: Braised fennel and Viognier. Trust us, it works!

Best bottle under $20:

WWG: There are so many to choose from, but the best one we opened recently was Bridlewood 2012 Pinot Noir from Monterey County, California. It had nice intense fruit flavors and a touch of spice on the finish. For fifteen bucks it over-delivers.

Best bottle to splurge on:

WWG: M by Michael Mondavi 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon. It has delicious flavors of black cherry, blackberry, chocolate and spice, luscious tannins and good acidity. It'll set you back $200, but it's a wine that'll make you understand what all the fuss is about when people talk about Napa Cabernet.

Any advice for ordering?

WWG: Figure out what you're going to eat first and then pick a wine to match. If you're unsure, speak with the sommelier about pairing, and let her know your optimal price range. If you're ordering by the glass, it's okay to ask for a taste before committing.

One wine you wish more people knew about?

WWG: Malvasia Istriana from Croatia. It is a white grape with a crisp, fresh finish that's great with seafood, and when aged in oak it is made into a complex wine that's terrific with pork or pasta and cream sauce. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot in the US market — but if you spot one on a wine list, go for it.

Want more? Check out Mike and Jeff's latest book: Wines of California: The Comprehensive Guide

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