Recently, Sasha DeJaynes lended rich insight on choosing Old World vs. New World vino. She's got a special penchant for helping amateurs and experts alike choose a grape flavor akin to their palate preference.
So we wanted to get some more background on Sasha - including the kinds of questions she gets at LCA Wine, and the role Franzia plays in her appreciation for fine wine.
I ain't lying about that last part. Check it out:
Take us back to your earliest experience with wine, where were you, who did you drink it with, what was going on?
I definitely come from a family that enjoys imbibing, so there has always been wine and beer in my world. Looking back now specifically with wine, the earliest memory I have from when I was 5 or 6 is of my parents' boxed Franzia in my Grandmother's fridge. We would always have BBQs and get togethers at their house, and there was always Franzia.
My parents were never shy about letting us try stuff, and as a kid you usually hate the taste of alcohol anyway, but I remember not hating it because it was pretty sweet. Still didn't really like it though. Fortunately now both my and my parents' palates have matured to enjoy some more complex stuff, but seeing boxes of Franzia always makes me nostalgic.
What were you doing professionally before you got into the wine world?
I was an actor and performer in Chicago, doing mostly fantastic storefront theatre. I was also part of the burlesque revival and used to perform and compete all over the world. I loved every minute of it, but unfortunately none of it was particularly lucrative, so as many actors before me I also waited tables and bartended.
Through that I had exposure to some pretty spectacular wines and the art of craft cocktailing, which peaked my interest and made me want to learn more. Of course, when you scratch the surface of wine you uncover this huge and majestic universe of endless pursuit, and I fell in head first and happy about it.
What about the wine world gets you excited in the morning?
The discovery of new flavors, places and people. There's always so much that you don't know, so the world of wine gives you endless opportunities to learn new things and have remarkable sensory experiences wherever you are.
We have tastings almost every day at the shop with distributors and producers, and every wine is a unique experience with a different story. I love the endless discovery.
What are some questions you get at the wine shop over and over again?
I get a lot of questions about structure, people trying to understand what tannins are, or what acid is, what minerality is, terms they hear thrown around a lot but are still confused about. Understanding those elements are key to picking out the wines that you like, so answering those questions is a win for everyone.
We are also pretty geeky at the wine shop, so our regular customers enjoy asking us about more technical things like soils, climate, winemaking techniques, stuff like that.
What do think about this canned wine movement?
As someone who enjoys camping and hiking I am all for it, as long as the product within is quality. Packaging-wise it is convenient, easily transportable, secure and is great for storing wine in the short term. I would never age wine in a can, obviously, but for fresh, clean drink now wines I think it is great. It's also half a bottle of wine, which I think most people don't realize.
The greatest hurdle is consumer perception; for most people canned wine = cheap wine, and they can balk at the price of higher quality wines packaged in aluminum. But I think the trend overall is bringing people around.
The last 3 wines you drank (outside of work) and why, how were they?
Domaine de la Taille aux Loups Vin de France "Clos de la Bretonniere" 2015: my selection for a sunset duffy cruise, absolutely delicious and one of my favorite wines to drink right now and ever. Technically dry Vouvray by Jacky Blot, but since his facility is on the other side of the river has to be bottled as Vin de France. Outstanding.
Guado al Tasso by Marchesi Antinori, DOC 2016 Vermentino: best by the bottle option for an impromptu afternoon snack at an OK seafood joint. Delivered exactly as expected: fresh, clean and quaffable.
De Toren Z 2012: surprise take home from work to have with dinner. Elegant and rich right bank style Bordeaux blend from Stellenbosch. Complex and nuanced with ripe tannins and smooth texture. Really lovely.
Let’s play a quick game, we’ll give you 3 actors and you tell us a wine that pairs with their personality:
Samuel L. Jackson: Triton Tinto de Toro 2016; rich, bold, dark and smooth with spicy bite.
Lucille Ball: Sommariva Prosecco Superiore Brut; bubbly, light, fun & classic. Great anytime.
Margot Robbie: Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Riesling 2016; tart, sharp, striking and Australian. Love it or hate it (but probably love it).