Breaking the Sommellerie Ceiling

Pascaline Lepeltier (Photo via France-Amérique)

In October, Pascaline Lepeltier was the only woman among nine candidates in a prestigious sommellerie contest in France, and this month she will be one of only two women in the Meilleur Sommelier de France competition. The one-time philosophy student, who has lived and worked in New York City for 10 years, designed what was named the “Best Long Wine List in the World,” for the Rouge Tomate restaurant in Chelsea. Since early 2018 Lepeltier has managed the wine cellar at the Racines restaurant in Tribeca, writes Clément Thiery in an article in France-Amérique translated from French by Alexander Uff.

This French bistro offers more than 2,500 different bottles. The majority of its wines are not even sold in the United States, and instead are imported from France, Italy, South Africa, Chile, and Lebanon. “New York is such as magical city for wine. You have access to every bottle in the world,” says the sommelier. “I tend to prefer lesser-known designations and producers, wines from the Loire Valley [her native region] and Eastern France, with a focus on biodynamic wines that are as natural as possible.”

Lepeltier also teaches the art of being a wine steward to restaurant staff and students from the International Culinary Center in Manhattan.

Her key advice includes “dive into the theory and the physics of wine,” “taste each wine several times at different moments,” and while in the dining room, “read the customer, analyze their personality and tastes, ask the right questions, and learn how to listen to their answers.”

Read what Lepeltier has to say about the underrepresentation of women in the field at France-Amérique.

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