Wine advice from Spring Dinner Series sommelier Ashlee Nemeth

by | People, Q&A

It’s time for the Culinary Crossroads Spring Dinner Series, four weeks of collaborative chef dinners that run April 8-29 at Highland Golf & Country Club, and once again sommelier Ashlee Nemeth of Tinker Street restaurant in Indianapolis will be choosing the wine pairings. This will be Ashlee’s third year handling the wine selections, and guests look forward to her unique wine finds. She and her Italian boyfriend also own 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 Angelo’s Italian Market.

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 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.

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 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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