Rozzie Wine Evangelist

November 30th, 2007 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

What’s Spanish for zaftig? Does de buen tipo cut it?

Regardless, when my uxorial unit and I headed to (ta da) the Roslindale Public Library for a wine tasting, we met the full-figured and relentlessly enthusiastic Maria Valencia (as she says, “Like the orange”). The owner of the nearby Solera wine store wowed the seniors gathered with hints on what sauces to serve for the holidays.

We have sommeliers as touchstones and used to share a house with the food and beverage manager of the Ritz (back when there was a Ritz here and back when Johnny Carter was in charge of the cellars). Johnny was as much plain folk as a life-long Beacon Hill guy can be, but many wine professionals are not. Maria was in the casual mold, with her insistence on enjoyment over snobbishness.

She quickly pegged the crowd and played to it. Of the perhaps 25 of us, most were seniors and not the Harvard Law graduates from Dover either. They seemed not to know a Pinot from pickle juice. No worries, the broad smile and encouragement put them at ease.

Amusingly enough, Maria even elicited a gasp from the audience with with a ho-hum technique of boomer and younger generations. She showed how to open a wine bottle with a waiter’s corkscrew. waiter’s corkscrew

She cut the foil with the blade, inserted and turned the spiral and used the arm as a lever, as most of us, but apparently not those in the room, have done many times. When she extracted the cork with a light pop, an appreciative huzzah arose.

What a delighfully receptive group!

Maria’s business that night was familiarizing the Rozzie natives with wines for holiday visitors. She brought a sparkling (cava), a white and red Washington State bottles, and a Port. Everything was under $15 and drinkable as is. The approachable wine lady brought approachable potables.

She tied each wine to various foods, including recommending the cava with seasonable creamy soups. The whole evening was how to feel confident matching the wine to the food so you didn’t have to fret.

Incongruously, she did not come from a wine making or loving family or area. She grew up in Colombia. The only wine around was the sweet white stuff her father brought home from the local priests. A nice piece on her background and how she got to America and became a wine expert without going to sommelier’s school appeared in the Parkway Transcript. Some raves for her wine biz at 12 Cornith are here and here.

She also apologized for her hoarse voice. She’s a worker bee as well, with a job translating in downtown courts.

None of the wines in the backroom of the library was breathtaking or inspired those silly adjectives. My wife and I are relative winos contrasted to the sedate crowd in the room. I would have no problem getting more memorable wines at that price, at Solera or elsewhere. However, I bet she has the same enthusiasm in store and would turn over some great stuff I never knew.

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2 Responses

  1. maria c. valencia says:

    Hello, nice article but unfortunately, wrong picture. This is Marjorie, the assistant manager. Thanks, Maria C. Valencia

  2. Harrumpher says:

    Thanks for both comments. I pulled the pic. Previous readers who remember it might note that I cropped the image from an online newspaper (with credit). I don’t see a real image around and didn’t take a camera that night. You need to visit Solera to buy good wine, get the advice and see the source.

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