Sommelier Diane McMartin ’11, My World of Wine
CIA Alumni Bio
A graduate of the CIA’s Wine and Beverage Program, Diane loves to use what she learned to recommend the perfect wine. “My favorite kind of customer,” says Diane, “is the one saying ‘I’m making this recipe and need to find a complementary wine for under $20’. For me, the most fun is being on the floor helping customers. We specialize in wines from $8 to $20 and the customers know if we put a wine on the shelf, it’s going to be good. They trust us.”
Strength of the Program
Tasting wines and selecting which wines to add to the inventory is a big part of Diane’s job. “A fellow employee and I oversee all the white wines. On an average week I’ll have eight to 10 tasting appointments,” she says. Tasting is a key aspect of the curriculum that provided Diane with a strong foundation for her profession. “I think the real strength of the program is that the professors really teach you how to be a good taster and how to do it properly. They taught us how to taste in a very structured way, and we did it over and over until it became second nature. Now that I’m in the industry, I see how valuable it is to have that training.”
A highlight of that training for Diane was the quality of her teachers. “All of the instructors were great. I worked mostly with Robert Bath and Christie DuFault,” she recalls. “Professor Bath encouraged us to take the Court of Master Sommelier exam right after the exams for our program because he said you’ll never have another opportunity with the information so fresh in your minds. Professor DuFault is a Francophile and I studied French in college so we really connected.”
Diane uses her CIA experience when planning wine dinners and classes for the store as well. “We partner with local restaurants and our importers to host dinners matching wines to a specific menu. It’s a fun way to connect with our customers,” she explains. “I also teach classes like pairing wines with a variety of cheeses and wine tasting 101 for people who are new to or just beginning to enjoy wines.” Diane’s first book, This Calls for a Drink!: The Best Wines and Beers to Pair with Every Situation, was published on June 14, 2016 by Workman Press.
Back Home in Virginia
Diane is happy to be back in her home state of Virginia. “It’s nice to be close to family again after living away for nine years. I like to cook and so does my dad, so we enjoy spending time together,” she says. But wherever she goes, she’ll always remember her CIA experience.
“I look back fondly on my time at Greystone. The course material is extremely well-done, and I still refer to it on a regular basis. I’m grateful for something I learned at the CIA almost every day.”
Sommelier Diane McMartin majored in wine and beverage at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, CA. She is a wine consultant, educator, freelance writer, and author of This Calls for a Drink!: The Best Wines and Beers to Pair with Every Situation.