Interview With A Sommelier – Phoenix Dai

14th May 2024

Interview With A Sommelier Phoenix Dai

The World of Wine is beautifully showcased by an army of talented Sommeliers, who help the consumer discover their next favourite bottle, understand the different regions and pair a delicious meal with the right Glass of Bubbly.

In this feature, I speak with a woman from the San Francisco Bay Area, in the United States of America, who has helped many people to discover the vast world of Wines and Sparkling Wines, her name is Phoenix Dai, let’s find out about her life as a Sommelier.

Tell Us About Yourself

“I graduated from the University of California, Davis, with a Bachelor’s degree in Viticulture and Enology. Currently, I am a fine wine specialist at The Wine Group. After finishing my WSET level 3 Pass with Distinction in 2018, I am studying for the WSET diploma. I have worked as a sommelier at Yellowstone Club. Also, I served as the wine educator at Raymond Vineyard and obtained four winemaking harvest experiences in school, Domaine Chandon, and Beringer Vineyards. The profession of sommelier can be said to be my lifelong career pursuit.”

Do You Remember Your First Experience With Sparkling Wine? When It Was And What Kind Of Wine It Was?

“I vividly remember that I first came into contact with sparkling wine during my childhood. In the capacity as an international tourism leader, my mother always brought different wines from various countries back to home. When I was six years old, she took back a bottle of Moët & Chandon Rosé Impérial. That was my first time seeing a bottle of sparkling wine with my own eyes. I was honored to taste sparkling wine for the first time on my 21st birthday. I chose to celebrate this wonderful moment at a high-end restaurant. I ordered the food and wine pairing while enjoying the chef tasting menu. The Kaluga Caviar was served alongside a glass of Perrier-Jouët. That moment was deeply imprinted in my memory, worth calling to mind.”

What Inspired You To Become a Sommelier?

“Among all the fantastic wine-related job experiences, I can find pleasure in interacting with guests, as well as introducing them to the unique winemaking and viticulture stories behind different brands of wines. Seeing my clients enjoy the elaborate pairing of food and wine always brings me an overwhelming sense of success, pride and achievement. Also, I am really into blind tasting!”

During Your Time As A Sommelier, What’s The Most Surprising & Interesting Thing You’ve Learnt?

“The most surprising, amazing and fascinating thing for me was visiting the 100% biodynamic wineries. I witnessed how to integrate environment-friendly technologies and classical fermentation techniques into a green cycle: cow dung was used to improve soil quality and rainwater was collected to complete daily cleaning and irrigation. Flowering plants were also grown to attract beneficial bugs. In the winemaking process, the winemakers only utilized wild yeast from grape skins to ferment the wines, with all the grapes manually harvested. Worth mentioning, the biodynamic vineyard farming, being in accordance with the lunar calendar, enabled the resulting biodynamic wine to be very high quality in flavor!”

What Sparkling Wine Producing Countries or Regions Hold A Special Place In Your Heart?

“Definitely I have a preference for Napa Valley! For many people, when it comes to Napa Valley wine, they first think of Cabernet Sauvignon. However, the bubbly part is also incredibly refreshing! I was honored to perform a winemaking internship at Domaine Chandon. The crispy, refreshing, and luscious sparkling wine produced with the aid of the traditional method at Chandon is really fascinating!”

Where’s The Most Memorable Place You’ve Enjoyed A Glass of Bubbly?

“My most unforgettable sparkling wine was offered by Domaine Carneros. It is a winery with a long history. The most important reason is that my beloved mother and I enjoyed this wonderful moment. We met on a unique autumn day when there was a clear sky and a pleasant temperature on the picturesque mountainside. We drank champagne with the aroma of white flowers and citrus peel, as well as the iconic creamy aftertaste while talking about all the things. The lovely aroma of wine and the peaceful time reflected the beauty of life. That glass of wine carried the joy of our reunion, represented beautiful memories, and heralded eternal happiness.”

Thank you, Phoenix, for sharing your words, knowledge and experiences with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!

Images belong to Phoenix Dai. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission, to use them.

Oliver Walkey

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.