Talking wine with Indy sommelier Ashlee Nemeth 

by | People, Q&A

Born and raised in Terre Haute, Ashlee Nemeth, sommelier at Tinker Street restaurant in Indianapolis, moved to Indy in 2010. Hired at Tinker Street as a server, Ashlee has been at the restaurant ever since, learning about wine and becoming one of the preeminent sommeliers in the city. She and her Italian boyfriend recently started a business called The Best of Umbria, importing regional delicacies such as lentils, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil and cherry and apricot marmellata. The products are sold at specialty food shops such as Nicole-Taylor’s Pasta and Market, Cork + Cracker, Goose the Market and Smoking Goose.

What made you want to become a sommelier?

I studied abroad in Italy for my degree in nutrition and dietetics at Indiana State University. There we studied food, wine, gastronomy and art history. I then went back to Italy by myself two years later. It just made my love for wine blossom, and I wanted to study it further.

What is your favorite grape varietal and why?

Zinfandel and syrah. I love wine with richness, complexity, full body and tannin. I love a Cahors malbec, too, because it has that funky, earthy, barnyard note known as Brettanomyces.

Any advice for the home connoisseur in pairing wines during the warmer months?

Acid with acid. For example, a pinot noir and tomatoes, something that may have a little bit of vinegar in it. Albariño, Godello, vermentino with white flaky fishes. Sparkling white wine or rosé by itself or with fruit, oysters, fried foods such as french fries and fried chicken. Chardonnay with creamy, rich sauces.

What wines do you drink at home?

I drink Cava and Cava brut rosé, a sparkling wine from Spain, chardonnay, chenin blanc, tempranillo and sagrantino (my favorite Italian grape). Heck, I drink them all. I am not particular about malbec from Argentina; I don’t really like pinot grigio.

What items are always in your fridge?

Sparkling wine, Aperol to make a spritz and chilled white wines, usually two different kinds. For food, tomatoes, chicken for lunch, parmigiano and pecorino cheeses, prosciutto, eggs, Pellegrino sparkling water and still spring water.

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