Celebrating Women In Wine: Kerri-Anne Reckord

Lifestyle

Celebrating Women In Wine: Kerri-Anne Reckord

Bar None

with Debbian Spence-Minott

Thursday, December 05, 2019

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We conclude our celebratory Women in Wine series this week with a visionary and a key principal in bringing to Jamaica its first wine bar. Today, we celebrate Kerri-Anne Reckord for her contributions to wine education and business.

 

Cheers to Beginnings

Kerri-Anne Reckord's entry into the wine business was out of a need to provide a service that basically did not exist. She was not part of the industry at the time. In fact, some years ago when she and then-fiancé Christopher Reckord were living in Florida and planning their wedding, they were unable to find anyone to give them information regarding the pairing of wines with the meal. Reckord then decided that in the absence of knowledgeable wine help, as a couple they needed to learn more in this area. She recalled that living in Florida provided an opportunity to visit wine bars, restaurants, and supermarkets that engaged in wine tasting and knowledge experiences, and that was exactly what they did. They began learning about wines, varietals, pronunciations and regions. Then that serendipitous moment arrived, and they both decided that the business of wine was very dynamic and that they actually had a passion for wines.

 

Shall We Wine?

In 2004, Reckord completed the introductory sommelier certificate programme offered by Johnson and Wales, which allowed her to solidify, from an educational standpoint, her knowledge of wines. Reckord recounts that the wealth of knowledge gained expanded her thoughts and perspective. On returning home to Jamaica, she found herself in a familiar situation — basic wine knowledge and limited trade offerings, so again, as the journey began, Reckord and her husband decided to provide this service themselves.

 

Thursday Food (TF): How did you go about establishing wine knowledge sessions in Jamaica?

 

Kerri-Anne Reckord (KR): In 2006, my husband and I established DeVine Wine Services. The entity's goal was to provide wine training to consumers, trade partners, and to enhance wine services at events. We met at Guilt Trip and those keen on learning about wines attended — we held classes, established relationships with distributors and brand owners. Several wine-pairing sessions were held at Red Bones, Akbar, and Guilt Trip restaurants; winemakers and distributors were afforded the opportunity to showcase wine and food-pairing possibilities. These training sessions were well-received. The excitement was almost palpable and we could see the impact.

 

TF: What change did you notice?

KR: Consumers began asking for varietals that were never available in Jamaica. Based on those reactions and feedback, a group of us (Kerri-Anne Reckord, Christopher Reckord, Angus Gordon, Christine Gordon, Marilyn Bennett and Debra Taylor) decided to open Bin 26. Bin 26, Jamaica's first wine bar, was opened in 2009. In the initial set-up well over 100 wines were on offer. Patrons were engaging and wanted to know more about wines, and our staff was able to assist. Once we added food to the Bin 26 offering, pairing opportunities were presented. Today, there are many places in Jamaica that offer multiple wine selections and training. I believe that we certainly impacted the world of wine in Jamaica. Therefore, we continue to train and be involved in this business of wine.

 

TF: What makes DeVine Wine Services different?

KR: All major wine knowledge-based programmes offer the same standard topics. The programme may vary when you begin to discuss areas like wine and food pairings. Our cuisine is colourful, dynamic and unique – in fact this can be said about Caribbean food on a whole. Not only do we have to take those facts into consideration but also storage and serving of wines, given our warm climate. We therefore customise our programmes for the local market. There are standard temperatures that must be maintained so that the wines will be more appealing to the guest.

 

TF: Since the opening and subsequent closing of Bin 26, have you seen any changes?

KR: Bin 26 started as a wine bar – our key focus was on wines. We realised that we had to add an element of food; however, we were fully dedicated to wines and wine services. What I see today are a number of restaurants with a good wine selection and staff possessing reasonable knowledge about wines. The knowledge base has certainly improved; however, there is still tremendous room for improvement. Any of us who have had the opportunity to travel have experienced staff who are able to have a full conversation about wines — we are not there yet. In Jamaica, you may find a few persons who possess a real passion for wines, but this is not consistent across the restaurant and food service industry.

 

TF: What are your biggest pet peeves about wine service?

KR: I have two. First, if the wine is not at the right temperature then this will affect how the wine will be enjoyed. And second, incorrect opening of a bottle of sparkling wine. The aim here is not to make the bottle explode. You do not want to release the pressure the winemakers have preserved for so long. In addition, if incorrectly opened persons are placed at risk especially if the cork is expelled with that kind of force.

 

TF: What is your hope for 2020?

KR: I hope that we can put better structure in place and offer courses more often. I would love the opportunity to work more in the trade, restaurants, hotels and with importers in raising the level of wine knowledge. Once we are able to raise the level of wine service which includes product knowledge, then consumers will perceive greater value. Wine deserves time spent on it. There are some people who believe that wine is complicated. To some extent, yes; however, the world of wine is deep and also mesmerising.

 

TF: If you could tell our readers anything, what would that be?

KR: Do not buy the same wine at the supermarket every week. Try new wine!. Do not be afraid to try. Buy a simple wine course book, for example, Kevin Zraly's Windows of the World. The contents of the book are not overwhelming. That is a great place to start your wine journey in conjunction with just trying new wines.

 

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 me your 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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