Rock Star Sommelier

Rock Star Sommelier

Learn How Gabby's Friend Has Filled Her Life With Wine

“Those who wonder are not always lost,” especially when it comes to wine lover, aficionado, and explorer of the vines, Giordana Sorbel, who works for Veritas, one of the largest wine distributors and importers in Michigan.

Odds are if you’ve had a memorable glass of vino in your favorite Macomb area neighborhood haunt, she’s supplied it. To be a wonder woman in a male-dominated restaurant industry makes for an interesting cocktail for some; but for Giordana it is just another day at the office. Her hats very from sommelier, sales manager, certified wine specialist to teacher. “What molds the perfect teacher in my opinion is experience. Everyone can teach you something, you will learn more at a round table than you can from a book,” Giordana says. 

The start of her journey was from her lineage in Italy, to her childhood in Sterling Heights, then to Michigan State where she completed her degree in Hospitality. After graduation, she decided to move to the Big Apple where she met a friend and maser sommelier who inspired her to get into teaching. She went on to pursue her master’s degree in wine marketing and management in Bordeaux, France where she immersed herself into all aspects of the winemaking process. Tasting with a winemaker is much different than tasting with a somm. A somm is looking for the sales aspect and potential popularity of the wine versus a winemaker looking at it through the looking glass of structure, complexity and putting wine terms to life through tasting.

A winemaker Giordana lived with in France invited her to move to Italy to a tiny town somewhere “Under the Tuscan Sun” where she worked in marketing for a vineyard. The winemaking process became her focal point and her life consisted of living off fresh focaccia and biodynamic wine. This was a hard job but someone had to do it.

From Italy to Australia she continued to satiate her curiosity of winemaking, working harvest for two vintages. “Working harvest is like tax season,” Giordana states. There are lots of interns doing a lot of work in a short amount of time. The biggest take away from her journey in Australia was how many ways there are to make wine, what each process does to the final product, what you can and can’t add, and lots of palate training to put a taste to aging terms.

Giordana then journeyed to Napa Valley to the Marciano Estates. This vineyard was significantly different with smaller tank sizes and more high-end boutique wines. Giordana went from working in the vines to monitoring what was going on in the tanks. Although her adventures around the globe were extremely beneficial and molded the woman she had become, Giordana very much missed her family and home.

I met Giordana at J.Baldwin’s during a wine tasting because some may say a somm’s best friend is a chef’s palate. We tasted wine together, realizing our love for exploring vintage champagnes was shared, and one of us was just as much of a hospitality nerd as the other. Giordana and I now explore new vintage champagnes together each month and maybe a few other wines too, expanding our friendship beyond the wonderful world of juice. 

When it comes to our restaurant, Testa Barra, Giordana’s travel and expertise has stretched the horizon of our wine lists. She will often bring in varietals that scream our customer base in taste, such as a Chenin Blanc from South Africa we had never tried. On our list you will invigorate your palate with a silky/dry Gavi di Gavi with floral notes of minerality. We also have a Meret Rosso from northern Italy reading full bodied with great red fruit. One of my favorites is the Billecart Salmon Rose. a champagne with tight-crisp bubbles that allow your palate to see through tart-rose colored glasses.  Although we can’t all travel like Giordana has, she brings you to flight through bottle.

This wino-wonder woman has about 80 accounts she handles for Veritas, including Michigan wine Bel Lago. She teaches certification courses, and is still busy keeping her love for education and juice alive. I think it is very important for women like Giordana to keep breaking boundaries and holding significant presence in industries like this one. For such a well-travelled and experienced mind to come back and utilize these talents in her own backyard is a gift. The wine world is better off with more Giordanas in it and for those on the come up…keep sippin’ and keep trippin’, there’s a lot of green earth out there.

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