Erika Klassen, Sommelier at Midtown Co-op Wine Spirits Beer

How I ended up in the best job in the world.

Erika Klassen 350x300I took a bit of a non-traditional path - from law to sommelier. I graduated as a legal secretary just in time for the downturn of 2008 (timing is everything). It was impossible to find a position, so I took a job in a wine store until other opportunities opened up. Well surrounded by people that have such dedication to wine ignited a passion in me. It wasn’t long before I began taking classes with WSET and devouring wine books. So the great recession became my great ascension. Helping people explore the world of wine is far more fun than typing up legal documents.

My favourite thing about being a sommelier

There isn’t just one thing, but many things that make being a sommelier so satisfying. I like every part of it, from the variety to the ever-changing nature of wine to the opportunity to help people. Every day is unique, full of interesting challenges. It’s very pleasing when a person comes to me not sure of what they are looking for or what type of wine they even enjoy and, together, we find the perfect wine for them.

The next big thing in wine

Knowledge. I find people are educating themselves about wines, spirits and beers in ways they never did before. People have access to so much information, ranging from classes in the WSET to restaurants and stores hosting wine clubs to all kinds of books and countless sites on the Internet. Combined with the growing interest people have in their food and where it comes from, there is a real thirst for more knowledge about wine. With so many people taking the initiative to learn more about the fascinating subject of wine, spirits and beer, it really keeps us on our toes. It’s very rewarding to be a sommelier when people are so eager to know more. Keep it up! Feel free to stop by to chitchat about production methods, up and coming wines or anything else you might want to find out more about.

One thing I wish everyone knew about wine

Riesling! This is an aromatic white grape from Germany where it is produced in a variety of different styles. Many people believe this varietal is only made to be sweet (and it is delicious sweet) but what they don’t realize is that Riesling is available in many different ripeness and sweetness levels. Many Rieslings today are made in a dry to off-dry style, resulting in some of the finest white wine in the world. Unfortunately, there were too many low quality, overly sweetened wines exported from Germany in the mid to late 20th century that gave Riesling a poor reputation. If everyone knew just how incredible Rieslings can be, then the world would be a better place.