Tag: Wine Spectator

The Wine Goddess’ guide on becoming a Goddess

It wouldn’t surprise me if I randomly flip open a woman magazine or take a dip into any online girl talk chatterbox, I’d stumble across a handful of “lighthouse” posts. These how-to articles seek to guide the many poor, lost single souls across the rough sea of love, share recipes on how to brew lasting relationships and, alas, in Asia particularly we like to talk about how to become a goddess. Yes, reboot your system and install OS Goddess for the 2014 perfect girl updates. 200 years ago women fit in by fitting themselves into corsets. Nowadays, they fit themselves into the ever-changing social formula of success that painstakingly adds together a virtual corset, unexpired beauty, brains and benevolence et cetera. Humpf.

And then I met the Wine Goddess. She’s no obscure Greek citizen from Homer’s Odyssey, rather she’s the proud guardian of Bin 702, a quaint, Midwestern-looking boutique wine and beer bar located in Container Park, a hip area in Downtown Las Vegas where young people, art and local designers congregate. Recently, Bin 702 joined an army of the restaurant industry’s elites and became one of 2014 Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence recipients. In just one-and-a-half year time, Kathleen Lilly aka Wine Goddess turns this off-Strip chic wine concept into an address for creative food and beverage pairings and guaranteed fun. Over sips of beers and ciders (not wines, surprisingly?), we set sail into Kathleen’s past, retracing her vinous voyage over the past years.

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Kathleen Lilly is no Lighthouse post kind of Goddess. Becoming a goddess is not an achievement, instead it is a form of commitment, inspired by another passion of hers: belly dancing. In the belly dancing community, a goddess refers to a woman who lives to empower and enable herself and others. Feminism is at the core of the Goddess’ living philosophy; it motivates one to be fun, carefree, feminine, beautiful and exotic. This by no means is a recipe, the essence of becoming a Goddess is the ability to shape your own form, find your own zen and define your own being. This tribal definition of Goddess is little known outside the circle, and Kathleen has met curious faces, just as much as rolling eyes, when she exchanges business cards with others. Well, how many Wine Goddesses have you ever met?

“Wine saves my life,” Kathleen confessed. She credited wine as one of the things that helped her rediscover the purpose of life. Kathleen dabbled into the food and beverage industry when she joined the management programme at Bellagio Las Vegas. Upon graduation, she met Bellagio’s wine director, Rob Bigelow, who ushered her down the road of studying about wines. By year 2009, Kathleen has done her introductory wine training with Court of Master Sommeliers, and was offered a sommelier job at Bellagio. “During that time I was going through my not-feeling-like-a-goddess period,” Kathleen turned down the offer, thinking that she was not good enough to fulfill the expectations of the role. Same year, she moved on to Aria Las Vegas where she continued to focus on restaurant management.

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When Bin 702 opened up in December 2013, Kathleen took the helm and gradually built an award-winning wine list with over 100 selections, featuring a wide array of quality producers and putting lesser-known varieties like Gruner Veltliner, Arneis and others on the tap! Whether you belong to the 60% loyal regulars or 40% curious first-timers that visit the Bin everyday, Kathleen will be there whisking you through an odyssey of 13 to 14 different wines, all conveniently on the tap so to make wine tasting a fun adventure that doesn’t hurt your wallet (too much).

I find myself secretly wanting to become a Wine Goddess myself, so I ask Kathleen what it takes to be a Wine Goddess. “You need patience, and commitment to your work. Even if you are having a crappy day, regardless you have to detach yourself from how you feel and try to give your guest the best dining experience. Oh, and you have to appreciate yourself.” No Greek-inspired chiffon breezy dress? For the record, on the day of the interview Kathleen was wearing a black sleek dress with a funky neckpiece, reminding me of an avant-garde version of the Valkyries from Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen.

“Every person is his or her own study case,” Kathleen pointed out. After all, the Wine Goddess denied me a conclusive answer on what makes a Wine Goddess. To Kathleen, Goddess is her optimal modus operandi of being a wine ambassador. Having faith in herself, embracing lifelong learning and respecting all those she comes across is Kathleen’s Holy Trinity. This is how a sassy, outspoken New Jersey girl evolves into a Goddess. We need more Goddesses like that, Amen.

Picture 1:Kathleen Lilly brings the concept of “Goddess” from belly dancing culture to the world of wines
Picture 2:Bin 702, a hip wine and beer bar located in Container Park, Downtown Las Vegas

Credit:
Kathleen Lilly
Vegasseven.com
Bin702.com

我又要做女酒神

翻開任何一本女性雜誌,或跑上女性話題網上平台蹓躂蹓躂,不難找到「救世文」。所謂救世文,並不是傳教,而是一堆以拯救一眾單身苦女的文章,如何脫離苦情海、如何拴住男人的心等,近日,「女神」一詞冒起,今時今日我們以諸娛樂版「女神」為整治外至外表、內至處事接物之道的模範。重新開機,安裝OS女神的最新更新,這是今日社會吹起的媚風。二百年前,維多利亞社會的標準美女,要把腰肢擠進那標準令人氣都透不過來的束身衣。今天,美女的定義、女神的定義、成功女性的定義,束身衣的身材、長期保鮮的容貌、聰慧與仁善並行等。女神,不易當啊。

娛樂版以外的世界,我遇上了女酒神。她不是作家荷馬《希臘神話故事》筆下的眾神之一,她守護着的是美國拉斯維加斯下城區,一個走嬉皮風的小區 Container Park裏,一家裝潢走美國中西部風格的葡萄酒及手工啤酒酒吧:Bin 702。最近Bin 702贏得了2014年美國葡萄酒觀察家頒發的卓越大獎(Award of Excellence),一個全球不到3,000家餐廳擁有的榮譽。一年半的時間,Kathleen Lilly頂着Wine Goddess的名銜,把這家下城區型格葡萄酒酒吧打造為一個標榜創意酒食搭配和年青人聚集享樂的地方。我一邊淺嚐不同啤酒及蘋果酒(居然不是葡萄酒呢!),一邊聽Kathleen娓娓道來她這酒意盎然的女神故事。

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Kathleen這女神,不是九頭身、也不賣花容、風霜不侵,她不是娛樂版的「女神」。自命女神,並不是在自炫,而是源自她的另一興趣 ─ 肚皮舞。肚皮舞者的信念,與女性主義同轍,鼓吹女性在定義自我的過程中,尋找趣味、自由、美麗、品味、個性等。這並不是甚麼女神秘訣、每一個人模塑自我的過程也不同,你是誰,完全視乎你眼裏的自己是誰。肚皮舞文化對女神的定義,並不多為外人所知。Kathleen把Wine Goddess編印在自己的卡片上,跟別人交換卡片的時候既遇過好奇之眾,也遇過臉帶不屑的。畢竟,你這生人遇上過多少個葡萄酒女神啊?

「葡萄酒救了我。」Kathleen 坦認。葡萄酒讓Kathleen再度找到人生的意義。Kathleen踏足餐飲業,始於她參加美國拉斯維加斯Bellagio酒店的管理人才培圳計劃。完成計劃後,她認識了Bellagio的葡萄酒總監Rob Bigelow,在Rob的鼓勵下,Kathleen開始了學酒的旅程。2009年,Kathleen完成了世界侍酒師公會(Court of Master Sommeliers)的基本侍酒師課程,也得到了酒店給她一份任侍酒師的聘書。「那時候,我正經歷一段老是懷疑自己能力的時間,沒半點『女神』精神啊!」她覺得自己未能勝任,於是推掉了那份工作。同年,她轉到另一家五星級酒店Aria Las Vegas工作,專注負責餐廳管理。

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Bin 702於2013年12 月開業,Kathleen從零開始,把酒吧的葡萄酒及手造啤酒酒單慢慢打造成一張逾100個不同選擇的酒單,裏頭有不少優質酒莊,而且Kathleen也把一系列較鮮為人知的葡萄品種如Gruner Veltliner,Arneis等葡萄酒,以貯藏生啤的器材侍用,普及且大眾化葡萄酒的文化。現在Bin 702每天招呼近60% 熟客、40%慕名而來的首次訪客,Kathleen 最享受的是客人對她的信任,有了生啤侍酒系統,Kathleen讓客人一夜裏試逾13至14款葡萄酒,好玩但不需大破慳囊。

我心底癢癢想着,我又想做女酒神!我問Kathleen,怎樣才能當葡萄酒女神呢?「你需要很有耐性,且對工作長期保持熱誠。不論你每天過得怎樣,你必需把自己心情好壞隔離,面對客人的時候,你只有一個任務,就是為他們創造一次難忘的經驗。還有,你必須懂得欣賞自己。」不須穿希臘風雪紡長裙嗎?哈哈。回想當天跟Kathleen見面,她的一身「女神」打扮,看來要請來德國作曲家華格納來欣賞,黑色緊身裙襯上粉頸上潮味十足的紙製衣領頸飾,讓我想起了華格納史詩式歌劇「指環」裏的女戰神!

「說到底,每個人性格不一,所謂怎樣當『女神』,還得自己度身訂造一套『規條』!」在Kathleen而言,女神的身份,讓她可以自如地擔當葡萄酒大使。對自己的一份自信、緊守終身學習的精神和尊重她生命中遇上的每一個人,三位一體,成就了Kathleen這位Wine Goddess。這就是一個潮味十足,有主見的新澤西女孩,經年磨練和自我發現後,成為女神的故事。能有更多這樣的女神,多好啊。

圖上:Kathleen Lilly 把肚皮舞文化中的「女神」概念帶到葡萄酒文化中
圖下:美國拉斯維加斯下城區葡萄酒吧 Bin 702

Credit:
Kathleen Lilly
Vegasseven.com
Bin702.com

不是在寫酒的寫酒人

昨天偷得半日閒,遂播放友人相贈的「神之水滴」真人版劇集,開了一瓶紅酒,邊「煲」邊喝,很不錯的娛樂。一共九集的真人版劇集,相當精煉地演示漫畫的主要情節,沒怎樣演繹主角們如何推理每款葡萄酒是什麼,反把重點放在他們在尋找七款葡萄酒的時候,就一己價值和待人處事所得出的省悟。由兄妹漫畫家雙劍合壁,以亞樹直這個筆名繪畫的「神之水滴」,風靡全球,利害在他們不止聚集了一班酒客粉絲,更吸引了一羣看這部漫畫前,對葡萄酒不甚了解的讀者。

他們如何做到的呢?精湛的畫功、精采的故事發展,這個不在話下。且看神咲豐多香所選的七款酒,象徵「愛」、「考驗」、「感激」、「傳承」等,亞樹直兄妹在畫葡萄酒,但不止於畫葡萄酒。扣人心弦的人文精神,是他們俘虜萬千讀者粉絲的其一主因。今日的葡萄酒圈子裏,還有不少朝同一方向努力的作家,他們的文章平易近人,不用上太多專業用詞,引導不同酒齡的讀者反思及重新認知葡萄酒。個人最喜愛的兩位作家分別是華爾街日報葡萄酒專欄作家 Lettie Teague 和 Wine Spectator 的葡萄酒專欄作家 Matt Kramer 。上月讀 Matt Kramer 於 Wine Spectator 九月刊的專欄,探討什麼是傳奇葡萄酒 (What Becomes a Legend) ,先生點出 Consistency 是一個傳奇必需具備的特質。所引之例,所發之論與葡萄酒絲絲緊扣,所帶出的大義卻恰能用於人生。當思考及欣賞葡萄酒的思路穿越葡萄酒的基本本質,那是享受葡萄酒的另一個層次。

葡萄酒世界,猶其是亞洲,需要的不是更多堆砌專家地位的寫手,我們需要的是一位明白同儕需要的哲人。亞洲更需要模塑一個以「平常心」對待品飲葡萄酒的文化。以葡萄酒送禮,送的是心意,而非面子。討論葡萄酒,但求侃談人生,不為炫財耀學。不敢說分享的算不算是人生智慧,不過是有點生活態度,不抒不爽。那點態度來自享受葡萄酒的混沌之間,就如神咲雫臨近九集真人版劇集之末所謂:「是葡萄酒在教導我。」大部分酒客經歷的也許不是那漫畫式倏然睜眼的頓悟,而是來自淺嘗美酒,微笑著獨自靜思的漸悟。

葡萄酒是一個尋找快樂的故事。不是在寫酒的寫酒人,寫的是這一路上看見的風光,任何題材也好,故事較描述好看。 Wine stories 比 Wine notes 更耐人尋味。 葡萄酒亦然,音樂亦然,藝術亦然,文學亦然:四者正好表現了人文和美學的薈聚。菓香花香陳醇香的餘韻,能持續至無休止的是品酒中同時探索人生的過程中,所嘗到的味道。一直拜讀的幾位專欄作家,能看出釀造葡萄酒的科學中扎有人類對完美的堅持,能以文字和讀者同遊葡萄酒世界裏,人文和大自然共生的奇妙。一縷葡萄酒進入酒杯勾勒出來的鬱金香國境,跌宕在花蕾之心,如簷前滴水淅瀝澈心,一抹酹紅染雙曈,一輪醇香虜心神。快樂中感受無憾,酒香中感悟人生。

Photo Credit: Palate Press

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