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If Wonder Woman Were a Sommelier
filed under: Ramblings

wonderwoman.jpgWhat kind of wines would she recommend? What would be her wine and food pairing MO? I ask these - admittedly - seemingly silly questions in response to a delightfully hilarious article I just read at CreativeLoafing.com comparing sommeliers to superheroes. Seriously. Problem was, the piece assumed the super somm was a man. The author, one Taylor Eason (very funny dude, although perhaps a bit sexist), contemplated the anonymity keeping Spiderman and Superman from realizing their true fame, even ruminating at one point "If the public knew them, wouldn't they be showered in enviable perks and get all sorts of chick play?" Hmm. Just what, I wonder, would female superhero somms replace "chick play" with when it comes to rewards for their super wine deeds?

This assumes, of course, that the female somms aren't lesbians. I know this is San Francisco, but for the sake of the argument let's simplify things and assume the female somms in question are straight.

Ok, so now that we've got the sexuality question out of the way, let's look more closely at Mr. Eason's superhero-somm parallel. Mr. Eason earnestly explains that somms, certainly inspired by superheroes, perform super tasks in the dining room such as "leap[ing] difficult asparagus dishes in a single bound, transform[ing] an otherwise blah meal into something worth paying for and, most importantly, sav[ing] you from bad decisions." Hallelujah.

But Wonder Woman ain't no Spidey. Not only does she pack different chromosomes, she's got a whole 'nuther way of going about her superhero business. The Female Superhero Somm, turns out, is a whole other animal.

Chicks are Super Tasters Too
For starters, she's more likely to know her stuff. A study conducted by the Clinical Smell and Taste Research Center of the University of Pennsylvania proved as much when women outperformed men on taste tests in every age group examined. Still not convinced? Linda Bartoshuk, professor at the Yale University School of Medicine, claims that all tasters can be divided into three tiers of tasting ability: nontasters, regular tasters and supertasters.

Supertasters are defined as the lucky folks who possess up to 100 times as many taste buds as their less well budded peers (I won't even depress you by going into the non-taster definition). Guess who comprises the lion's share of the supertaster contention? You got it: chicks.

And besides all this, female superheroes are better at exercising their emotional prowess to get things done - and yes, that includes tasks in the dining room. Got an awkward customer situation where the chick knows more about wine and wants to place the booze order? The Female Superhero Somm perceives this sort of tension and knowingly places the list in the middle of the table.

Would you like some vino with your...cat fight?
Or, have a weird business meal sitch where one player wants to spend big and another wants to scrimp? The savvy Female Superhero Somm hones in on the friction and mitigates potential disputes by suggesting wines at both ends of the price spectrum at different parts of the meal - allowing both players to achieve their goals and the meal to play out successfully.

You're probably beginning to see that it's not easy being a sommelier - heck, it ain't easy being a superhero! But chicks just seem primed for the task. I might even go out on a limb and suggest they're a better fit for it than dudes.

But because this is a happy blog I'll stop short. Because although it's statistically unlikely that male somms (and even male superheroes, for that matter) are supertasters, if they're in the job it's almost 100% likely they're in it for the right reason: love of the job.

Let's give it up for all super somms!
Being a somm in a restaurant is hard work, much of it involving schlepping cases of wine from stock rooms to cellars and managing irritating inventory minutia. And after all that, they've got to show up looking spic 'n span on the floor to sell wine and guide guests through the - in all likelihood - imposing tome that is their wine list. They work long and weird hours (dating life? forget it) to boot, often doing their thing til midnight or later on the best nights of the week, when all the "normal" people are out partying.

So now that I've made absolutely no point in this piece, before I cut out I'd like to readdress the original question posed: Just what do you think female somms ought to score as reward for their super deeds? Oh, I know: respect. Let's all give it up for the chick somms - they're here in growing numbers, and they're damn good at what they do. Take a listen! Werd.

supercourtney.jpgCreative Loafing Article

Image: totally self-gratuitous plug of me in Southern Rhone, on top of a castle, feeling very super

Posted by Courtney at Comments (2)