Kerrie Howell – Sommelier

About me…

I grew up in a house where wine came from a box. What I liked was on the relatively rare occasion this box was produced, my parents would behave slightly differently. My father’s cheeks would glow and he would play “Sailing up the Clyde” (his favourite record), and my mother would laugh a lot. Such was the impact of this elixir.

When I grew into a responsible adult, I found my own reasons for becoming enamoured with this special beverage. The story goes like this…

Little did I know that when I walked through the doors of Salt Restaurant in Sydney’s Darlinghurst many moons ago, that the way I viewed both food and wine would be forever transformed. This all began with the Sommelier of Salt at that time, Patrick White. There was no snobbery present when Patrick spoke about wine, just genuine excitement when approached by a starry-eyed enthusiast. He dissected the aroma and flavour of a certain bottle of South Australian Torbreck and from that moment on, I was hooked. Coming from a cooking background, understanding the many nuances of wine and the impact it had on food, had me giddy with excitement. I wanted to know more.

I enrolled in the year long Sommeliers Course at Sydney Wine Academy at Ryde. I then went on to study under Linda Lambrechts, whose knowledge of International Wines is encyclopaedic. This gave me the confidence I needed to work as a wine waiter . I was in the wonderful position of being able to offer people advice on how to get the most out of their dining experience by ordering a wine that would compliment their food. Of course we all have our favourites, but when you have a wine that compliments your food, it takes the whole experience to another level. I went on to write wine lists for the the Arthouse Hotel and Penny’s Lane in Sydney, and The Prince Albert Hotel and Pinot & Duck restaurant in the Southern Highlands. I have been off the floor of restaurants for a few years now as I have been raising two young children, however my phone is always ringing with friends at either a bottle shop or a restaurant, with a wine question.

I hope to regularly write about food and wine pairings in The Australia Times Gourmet Magazine as this is an area that brings me no end of joy. My husband is a chef, so food and wine pairings in our home is always a hot topic! We love entertaining, and funnily, it is always us that is doing the entertaining. We don’t tend to get that many dinner invitations. What is going on there?! Anyway time to get onto my first column…

Branching Out..

We live in a country of abundance. When in comes to food and wine in Australia we really are spoilt for choice.

Something I find interesting is that when I am out and about, talking to friends old and new, there seems to be a bit of a common thread.

Pondalowie Vineyards North Bendigo Victoria

When it comes to wine, many people limit themselves to what they are familiar with. Now, I am not one to name names, (SAUVIGNON BLANC), but let me phrase it this way. Limiting yourself to one type of wine when there is so many to choose from is like deciding that despite an abundance of delicious vegetables, the only vegetable you are ever going to eat is broccoli. It really is a pity. Why deprive yourself of excitement? There is truly a plethora of delicious grape varieties out there, just waiting to be tried. I have never heard of a person complaining because a drink was simply too delicious or exciting for them to bear!

I intend to make it my mission to entice people to branch out and try something new. Each column, I will discuss a different grape variety, even some of the lesser known ones. I will talk about the smells and flavours that I derive from each, and I will match it with food.

Come on, lets do it together, it will be fun!

Until next time,

Cheers, Kerrie.

This article first appeared in the Australia Times Gourmet Magazine.

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