By Lisa StahlTThe French have a talent for shaking things up. When Fred Dexheimer said Domaine Gayda’s latest import was “trying to disrupt,” it came as no surprise then that he was referring to the French winery’s original blend—Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, Carignan and Cabernet—aptly named Freestyle Rouge (2010, $20.00). With spirited spices lending to its perfumed aroma and strapping flavor, Freestyle was a bohemian hit at a recent SoHo tasting hosted by Dexheimer. Jeff Carrel’s Puydeval (2010, $15.50), a refreshing blend of Syrah and Merlot with exotic raspberry and nutmeg flavors and scents, paired with gourmet pates and cheese, was also a featured fave.
Dexheimer, an award-winning Master Sommelier— in 2007, he joined the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers and now holds the MS title along with only 196 others worldwide—and mixologist, is a New York nightlife maven. He started his bartending career at the award-winning restaurant Daniel and then worked at Gramercy Tavern before becoming Beverage Manager for the Jean Georges Group. He now runs a company—Juiceman Consulting— that provides wine and beverage consulting services, develops cocktail programs for fine restaurants and trains bar staffs. He’s also a spokesperson for Wines of Chile and Beaujolais.
Always ready to talk tannins, Fred makes sure not to limit his tasting engagements to in-house events. Through Twitter, he’s taken his wine and cocktail following to a whole other (global) level by putting together Web wine tastings. While not the first to try this, he’s been perfecting the process—one that’s helped to earn him over 6,000 Twitter followers—since 2010.
“Some people can’t go to tastings but they’re getting together in social media. We vet the wine and engage in a story,” says Dexheimer.
A simple process, participants are carefully selected for their online influence and vinophile following. They’re sent the wine – (and sometimes olive oil) free of charge and then, says Fred, “I lead them through the whole impressions of wine.”
“This gives us a digital, virtual reach,” one spanning 30 states and counting. Recent Web wine tastings have also included participants outside of the U.S. from as far reaching as Chile and Hong Kong.
“Bloggers are on a live chat feed,” Fred explains. Wine makers sometimes participate too, as they did recently in a Twitter tasting telecast live from Chile. “Where else could you get eight great wine makers in Chile to sit down together?”
Instead of the typical food matching, Dexheimer frequently opts for classic rock accompaniment during his wine Tweeting sessions. “More often than not, people know me for my music,” adds Fred, somewhat facetiously referring to his rock background.
And while Fred is also an experienced mixologist (see two recipes below), for now, his Twitter tastings are exclusively centered around wine. “There’s just too much equipment you need to mix drinks. It’s impractical to send that to bloggers.”
Fred has appeared on MSNBC and shared his expertise with the NY Times, Food and Wine, Wine Spectator, and Wine Enthusiast. He’s been featured in Time magazine and Cosmopolitan.
1. Build drink
2. Add ice and shake
3. Strain over fresh ice
4. Add garnish
Garden of Eden
1. Lightly muddle basil
2. Build drink
3. Add ice and shake
4. Strain over fresh ice into rocks glass
5. Add garnish