Food

Celebrating Women In Wine: Debra Taylor

Bar None

with Debbian Spence-Minott

Thursday, November 28, 2019

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There is no other name synonymous with wines than our very own Wine Lady Debra Taylor. In this week's article, we explore who she is.

What's in a name?

Approximately nine years ago, Taylor and Francois St Juste hosted a programme on Fame FM, dubbed 'A Moment With Wine'. It was during this programme that St Juste consistently referred to Taylor as 'the wine lady' and the name stuck. What does the 'wine lady' brand stand for? Taylor's reply: A repository of wine information, experience, ideas and initiatives. Taylor further explained that she views herself as an industry professional who has focused on wines for the past 15 years. She reflected on how much she has grown and that this career choice has become a passion, allowing her to taste, travel, and learn more about all things wine.

The Conversation Continues

Thursday Food (TF): What's new for you in the business of wine?

Debra Taylor (DT): I am pursuing my WSET Level 4 and it is my fervent wish to see more persons, especially industry professionals, aspire to become at least Level 2-certified professionals. In an ideal world, employers should ask for at least a Level 1 certification. Restaurateurs and hoteliers would embrace what they don't know and then go and learn about these areas as knowledge opens a world of opportunities which can be used to propel business. In my opinion, the wine business is much more lucrative than food sales. This has been a pet peeve of mine. There are too few places, that afford good wine service and a myriad of wine options.

 

TF: Would you agree that there are many persons dissatisfied with our current wine service?

DT: Yes. There are people who love great wines, who would consume wines with whatever; however, the service and options remain inadequate. I have had a patty and a glass of wine, which then elevated my patty experience. And to make matters worse, not only is the industry not doing enough research but the courses are available here at affordable prices. Presently, Select Brands Institute of Wines offers the programme for US$250 compared to US$350, plus travel costs and accommodation, if you wanted to do the programme overseas.

 

TF: Why do you think the industry has not embraced this programme?

DT: Restaurateurs will say that employees move around within the industry and so there is an unwillingness to invest in the talent. However, I believe that even if the employers invested 50 per cent of the fees or even 100 per cent of the fees, it is certainly an investment in the improvement of the business. We need to think more strategically to forge a way forward. For me, issues like these burn deep as we are not willing to educate or willing to learn. Sometimes, I will visit accounts to train the staff as part of my Select Brands trade development mandate. Some persons are energised when they come to the sessions and some are not. However, the managers or supervisors of these persons are rarely ever there, so there is no form of follow-up to ensure what was taught is being carried through.

 

TF: If you had the power to change the status quo, what would you do?

DT: I would take a two-pronged approach: top down and bottom up. I would attack the issues from both angles — interfacing with the servers to ensure they perform well and having one-to-one sessions with the managers to assist them in identifying areas of improvement. I believe that what anyone doesn't know about wines is what they don't want to know, as there is a wealth of information on the Internet as well as the wine label which also provides data about the wine; all persons need to do is read. The fact is, wine is the beverage that will continue to grow. Wine is no longer as complicated as we may believe. Wine has been demystified. Many persons come to our shores who are used to engaging wine service providers about the wines being offered. At Select Brands, we have had to place brand ambassadors in the trade so that they are able to perform this basic requirement of explaining the wines and providing additional insight as necessary.

 

TF: What is your 2020 outlook?

DT: I see a lot more wine education and wine tasting for me and those with whom I come in contact. I see a lot more travel and new experiences around wines. The wine business will boom.

 

TF: Share with us some of the wine destinations you have experienced.

DT: I have travelled to the USA (Napa Valley, Sonoma, Lodi, and Long Island); Canada, Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Croatia, Chile, New Zealand and Australia. On my dream list, I wish to visit South Africa, Portugal and Argentina.

 

TF: Describe one of your best wine experiences in any of the above-mentioned.

DT: There was a Lascelles Wines & Spirits trip to France. Twenty-nine persons travelled to Paris, Champagne, Cognac, Bordeaux and Chablis over seven days. We never lost luggage, we were never late, and no one killed anyone. This trip exemplified that wine is all about good times and great memories personified through teamwork and team synergy.

Clearly, we need a part 2 as the Wine Lady is just getting started. Looking forward to 2020!

 

Readers' Feedback:

Imagine if we embraced life's moments big and small, without reservation. Together, we might fill the world with contagious joy. Please share with meyour wines, spirits and cocktail experiences or comments on the above article at debbiansm@gmail.com, or follow me on IG @debbiansm #barnoneja.

 

Debbian Spence-Minott

An Alumna of the US Sommelier Association

CEO of the Academy of Bartending, Spirits & Wines

President, Jamaica Union of Bartenders and Mixologists (JUBAM) Limited

Marketing Studies Lecturer – The University of Technology Jamaica

 

 

 


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