Airing between regular episodes of the VinePair Podcast, “Next Round” explores the ideas and innovations that are helping drinks businesses adapt in a time of unprecedented change. As the coronavirus crisis continues and new challenges arise, VP Pro is in your corner, supporting the drinks community for all the rounds to come. If you have a story or perspective to share, email us at podcast@vinepair.com.

In this “Next Round” episode, host Zach Geballe sits down with Master Sommelier Jill Zimorski to discuss the future of the sommelier in America. Of course, the two weigh in on the recent string of scandals in the Court of Master Sommeliers and Zimorski discusses what she learned by testing through the Master examinations. Both touch on what Geballe deems an “unnecessary” level of secrecy, which has come into question since the release of the “SOMM” movies, as well as the cheating scandal of 2018. Zimorski affirms this level of “supreme secrecy” creates a testing landscape that is unreasonably broad, and suggests aspects of testing that the CMS-A could adopt from other institutions including WSET and Wine Scholar Guild exams.

With a Covid-19 vaccine approved in the U.S., Geballe and Zimorski also share their hopes for sommeliers returning to work. While wine professionals have often had a range of responsibilities when working in restaurants, the two hope that 2021 could be the year somms are allowed to focus on sharing their wine expertise instead of being tasked with an additional title like floor or general manager.

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Zimorski emphasizes that so many underemployed or unemployed sommeliers have gotten creative this year, and has herself been podcasting. This series, called “Reading and Drinking,” is produced by SOMM TV. There, Zimmorski reviews important wine texts and educates viewers on the best wine books to look out for. She hopes that somms and other wine professionals will continue to find creative outlets or specialized ways to share their wine knowledge.

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Zach: From Seattle, Washington, I’m Zach Geballe. And this is “Next Round,” a VinePair Podcast Conversation. We’re bringing you these conversations in between our regular podcast episodes in order to focus on the stories and issues in the drinks world. Today, I’m speaking with Chicago-based wine educator and Master Sommelier, Jill Zimorski. Jill, thanks so much for your time today.

Jill: Thank you so much for having me. I’m delighted to be here.

Z: Wonderful to have you. I will say that off the jump, I am an avid listener of your podcast, which we’ll talk about in a little bit. And as I was mentioning before, it is interesting to do a podcast with someone who you listen to do a podcast. I don’t know if it’s like “Inception” or what but it’s messing with me a little bit. So if I get thrown off during this conversation, that’s the only reason why. So let’s start on a slightly more — pardon the pun — sober topic, but 2020 has been a year for all of us. And it’s been a year for everyone who is involved in the restaurant industry, I think, in one form or another. We’ve discussed that in many forms on both the regular VinePair Podcast and through these “Next Round” conversations, but we haven’t talked a whole lot about the sommeliers in particular and wine professionals in restaurants, and both you and I pre-Covid have worked in that capacity. And I’m just wondering, what do you see going forward? Now that we are in this period of time when people are getting vaccinated, “the end” isn’t exactly clear when it will come, but seems like it is closer than the beginning. And what do you see for sommeliers and wine professionals going forward?

J: Well, I’m very hopeful. It’s been obviously a horrible year in a horrible situation. And in some ways specifically, wine professionals in the hospitality industry have a unique situation where it’s a specialized niche position. I’ve always likened sommeliers to pastry chefs.

You can have a successful restaurant without either one of those positions, but having people in those positions will really enhance your ability to be profitable and your guest experience. But it’s been said many times that they’re the last ones to be hired back and the first ones to be let go, because you can get by without them. That said, this has been such an interesting time because around the country laws have thankfully been changed very quickly to allow on-premise restaurants and hotels to allow for takeout and delivery, not just of wine, but also of cocktails and cocktail kits. And so it’s been very interesting watching the adaptation process and I hope that when things return to a little bit more of a state of normalcy in terms of safe dining and restaurants and working the floor again and that whole environment, I hope that the positions will come back. Because I know far too many sommeliers who are unemployed or underemployed. So I hope that one, people will be re-employed in those positions, but I think and I wonder and hope that some of the skills that I think that people have developed over this year, over these 10 months, will enhance and further develop them professionally, but further enhance their job skills and their job abilities.

Z: Yeah, interesting. I guess to me, one thing that I’ve been thinking about a lot, and I certainly have heard from peers, colleagues, friends, et cetera throughout the industry who have themselves been displaced, laid off, furloughed, given a new set of responsibilities, et cetera in this period of time, I do wonder, we were kind of at this period into 2019, where the sommelier was kind of riding high. I mean between the positive associations that the title had from the “SOMM” films and just general cultural cache, I think it was a period of time when there was this sense that maybe it could be this piece of the restaurant industry that really was a thing for people to strive for. And I still think it can be that my question and concern is that, what I’ve heard from a lot of people that I’ve talked to is their fear is that we’re going to go back to a period of time where “Yeah, OK, you can be the wine director, but you also need to be the general manager. You also need to be the floor manager.” That the idea of wine specialists in restaurants — and maybe to come back to that pastry chef analogy — it’s kind of like yeah, you can be the pastry chef, but I also need you to work a station on the line. That might not be a viable thing for a pastry chef, frankly, but for sommeliers I’m just concerned and I don’t know if you have any thoughts on this, about the subsuming of wine responsibilities in a restaurant into a larger set of job descriptions, as opposed to breaking it out as was maybe starting to happen in the latter part of this past decade.

J: That combined position, we sarcastically call it a “som-manager” a sommelier and a manager combined into one. I know that’s a necessary evil. But I also hate that position because those are two full-time jobs that are then squished into one person and one lower salary as a result.

And I do hate that, but I understand why it’s necessary. And I think that there have been some examples around the country of wine professionals who’ve really —and please, I’m going to try so hard not to use the word “pivot.” It’s the most overused word of 2020. I never want to hear it again, unless it’s in relation to basketball, but I’ve seen some examples of people adapting.

And really taking what the sommelier does, which is providing hospitable wine service and really taking it next- level. And sometimes in small restaurants, I’ve seen that in developing a wine club, and I know wine clubs can be a dime a dozen, but restaurants can be very theme-specific. And so to operate that, I think it’s an interesting idea to do a wine club or to do a little bit more of a guest service, “in-depth information sharing” situation, where there might be interviews with featured producers or winemakers or distillers whose products are heavily featured or partnered with the restaurant.

And so I would hate to see all sommeliers pushed into a job where they’re only doing the wine aspect of things 25 percent of the time. But I think there’s ways to make the case that it’s not just ordering, receiving, inventorying wine. That there are other things that a sommelier can do that will add value and add revenue.

And I think that’ll be critical, honestly. You have to make that case for yourself, you can’t expect it’ll just be OK. You’ve got to fight for that.

Z: I also think that there’s something to be said about one piece that none of us really know at this point, because we’re still in the pandemic, even if it feels we might be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Is that I think a lot of people’s relationships with restaurants will have changed to some extent in this period of time, that people will have either, at least for a while, maybe a greater appreciation of what they missed when restaurants were not an option, or at least were complicated for people to go to as opposed to a thoughtless thing.

And also I think that we’ve gotten so used to engaging with not just friends and coworkers and family virtually, but also with businesses and entities that we care about, at least in a more abstracted attenuated way than we had pre-Covid. And I think that point you make is a really valid one, which is that the good wine professionals, sommeliers, et cetera, will find ways to continue to connect with guests even when they’re not in the restaurant. And I think that’s going to be a huge piece for a lot of businesses, because I think everyone has been reminded that you can’t take that customer connection, that outreach, for granted because it’s your lifeline if things go sideways. And I think all of us know now that they can go sideways and then go sideways quickly, in ways that no one anticipated.

J: 100 percent, and look it’s going to be hard. But I think that’s one thing that hospitality industry workers generally, and sommeliers for certain specifically, have in common is there’s some hustle there.

And so I think it’s just going to be one of those things where we’re going to have to dig a little bit deeper and find the emotional energy to wax creative and come up with some new ideas, but it’s going to take some hard work for sure. But that’s how you get the good things to happen is hard work.

Z: Yeah, and speaking of hard work, you know a hell of a lot about it, probably in some sense more than you care to. And I think it’s important in this conversation — it would be remiss of us not to talk a little bit about the other piece of 2020 for sommeliers, which has been, the incredible storm of scandals surrounding the Court of Master Sommeliers.

And obviously we’re a part of, unfortunately, this initial crack in the ice, but it was certainly a seismic thing. I mean, much more so for you being one of the people directly involved in the cheating scandal, as an innocent bystander, I should point out, not anything other than that.

Whenever those words get thrown out, that gets really messy. I apologize. But yeah, you just happened to be taking your exam at the same time as other people who were perhaps cheating. And then obviously this year, the really horrific, if perhaps not completely surprising, allegations and reports of widespread sexual abuse throughout the court at the highest levels.

And maybe even more than that, the very willing blind eye that many of the Master Sommeliers within the court turned to the predatory actions of their fellow Master Sommeliers. So we can talk about this in whatever dimension you want, or multiple dimensions, obviously. But I’m just curious first and foremost, how has this been sitting with you?

J: It’s been very frustrating because of what’s happened over the past couple of years in my experience with the Court of Master Sommeliers, I certainly have had every reason to just wash my hands clean of this organization. But I haven’t. And I do feel that I’ve had to explain that to some people who do want to see it completely dismantled. And I will say this: I won’t make any excuses or any apologies. What those men did is horrible. And there needs to be consequences, pretty severe ones. I’m going to take out the pretty severe consequences.

I’m not going to modify that at all, but I gained a lot through the process of going through certifications with the Court of Master Sommeliers. I didn’t chase a pin. It led me to develop professionally and it provided a roadmap for me. And I didn’t experience what so many of these women did. So I believe the women and we always have to believe the women, but I do believe that since some people didn’t experience that, that means that there are some people who are in the organization that are good and decent and honorable. And for an organization that’s primarily male. It’s not like all the men are being accused. It’s a subset, it’s a subset of bad actors. And so I think that this organization has not evolved the way the wine industry has evolved. And it started off 44 years ago as a certification body, but it’s become so much more than that. And now it’s something that people really identify with and not just Master Sommeliers.

I mean, there are definitely Master Sommeliers where it’s part and parcel to who they are and how they work. But for people all over the world, it’s been a really important, impactful thing. And I still think there’s a place in the wine diaspora for what it does. The “WSET,” which I am also a part of, that organization is not the equivalent.

It has a different testing process and it also tests different skills. And so I believe there’s a place for it, but I think it needs to evolve and we need to recognize and understand that it’s not just an examination body anymore. And as something that people so strongly identify with with any level of participation, it needs to understand that not acknowledging what’s happening in the world around us with regard to racial and social unrest — that’s not acceptable because that hurts people. And the court is officially organized as a not-for-profit and I don’t represent the court. I can’t speak for the court. But I have this conversation frequently these days.

What is this organization? Is it just a nonprofit? Is it a club? Is it an academic credential? What is it? Because sometimes I feel that the people who are in charge of it for a long time really believe it to be so much more important than I think it actually is in the wine world. That if it is just a credentialing organization and there are some people who have demonstrably behaved so horrifically, boot them out! That shouldn’t be hard. And I struggled to find what’s so complicated and difficult about this. It’s not impeaching a president. It should be a little bit easier. And I also think that one of the biggest disconnects is the speed at which things happen internally, and the speed at which the external wine industry wants to see things happen. Because if we look at the court as a business, which people pay to take the exams, and we look at candidates for exams as customers, the customer base is not happy right now. And so we need to — we as a company — need to figure out how to reach our customer and how to not lose them and how to make them feel that there’s a return on their investment.

And I think that there’s just been a real disconnect with who our customer is now and what the wine industry really looks and how this organization operates. And I’m hopeful. I am hopeful that with this new elected leadership — I’m not trying to be ageist here, but it is a much younger group of individuals because some qualifications for leadership were changed.

And I think that some of these people are a little bit more in touch with the methods of communication and the speed of communication and the expectations of the industry. So I’m hopeful that things will improve, but yeah it’s been a hot mess.

Z: I have a couple of questions I wanted to ask to follow up to that. The first one is that, I wonder, and I think a thought that struck me for a while, honestly, since the issues with the master examinations in 2018. And maybe even before that, is one issue that I think has plagued the court maybe in public perception over the last couple of years, certainly within the sommelier community is a general level of secrecy that seems unnecessary. And I understand that to some extent you need there to be a certain amount of secrecy surrounding an examination because obviously you can’t tell people everything. There has to be some level of uncertainty. Otherwise, if you tell people exactly what’s going to be on the test, it becomes then an examination of something other than the skill they’re trying to test for.

But I do think that that level of secrecy as we’ve seen has really been exploited on multiple fronts. It’s part of what gave these predatory men power over women who were aspiring to achieve higher levels. There was a sense, I think, that these Masters Sommeliers had this secret knowledge that could improve or hurt your chances of advancement both specifically on exams and also, of course, getting placement in exams and things like that. But also, more broadly, even for people who weren’t necessarily going to be victimized in that specific way, there is a lot of confusion and I think unnecessary confusion about the exam, the format, the kinds of things that one was expected to know, and really more than anything else the fairness of the adjudication of those exams.

And again, a lot of that was brought to the surface in 2018 when it became very clear to most everyone that it wasn’t particularly fair. Either how the exams were handled and certainly the aftermath of the cheating scandal, but also I think that that always has been an issue. Do you feel it’s possible to conduct the exams throughout the levels that the court does with significantly less secrecy?

J: Oh my gosh, yes. This is a thing that has been incredibly frustrating for me because I feel that again, if this is purely an examining body, there is no need for this “supreme secrecy” and redacted minutes and all this garbage. We’re just a bunch of sommeliers. We don’t have nuclear codes. So I think a little bit is just self-important and extreme. And I am not convinced, nor has anyone been able to convince me that the levels of secrecy that those who have claimed are necessary are actually necessary. That said, I’ve never actually seen an exam.

But I teach, and I teach classes of all levels with the Wine and spirit Education Trust. And it’s a very different organization, but the exams are graded by Masters of Wine and I am not a Master of Wine, but I’ve certainly proctored exams and I teach classes, and that organization provides a pathway, a syllabus, study materials, and yet still people still don’t pass all those exams. So there is a way to provide more direction, more guidance, more clarity, and more exam expectations and it won’t necessarily mean that there’ll be a hundred percent pass rate because I see that. When you’re preparing for an exam, people go down wormholes.

And if you don’t give them a roadmap of what is expected or reasonable, people can really take it to absurd levels of “I need to know this” and that’s not necessarily helpful, but they have no one telling them, “Stay the course. You’re really veering off into minutiae here” and the WSET is better about that. I also think that throughout this whole pandemic I’ve been searching for what I call “little silver linings,” little things to grasp at. And while the pandemic and the subsequent unemployment of many Masters Sommeliers has proved that a credential does not guarantee employment, one thing I’ve seen is that a lot of people at various levels of education are pursuing certification.

Just one, they have the time or just trying to keep engaged in what they’re doing. And I’ve taken actually a couple of exams. One to just experience them for classes I was going to teach. I’ve taken online exams and the level of security is really quite impressive, for both the WSET or The Wine Scholar Guild. And so I know that these things are possible. But I also feel that transparency is paramount because if you’re not doing anything wrong, then what do you have to hide? And I agree, there are things in an exam like if you think back to high school or college, we had tests of varying styles there and teachers perhaps, or professors may have prepared students for general expectations, but they didn’t reveal the questions that they were going to be asking prior to the exam. So no one’s expecting that, but, blind tasting is part of both the WSET and the Court of Master Sommeliers and there’s never been a reveal of what the wines are. I’m not even talking about producer, but vintage or variety or, region of production. That would be helpful because if you don’t know what you should be focusing on, there are too many places for candidates to spiral off.

And so I think more specific guidelines, more transparency, and more secure testing methods, I think, are really, really important. I mean, tests are administered by humans in our case, and humans are fallible. And so there needs to be a backup. I mean, if it’s just a candidate and two or three master sommeliers in a room, there needs to be something else.

I mean, one of the best examples I can give for blind tasting because I’ve done so many blind-tasting exams, you walk into a room, you sit across the table from two or three Master Sommeliers. In more recent years, there’s been another person in the back of the room observing, but that’s still people listening to you. They can see who you are. They can see if you’re visibly nervous, there’s possibility for innate bias. But I think back to middle school when I played the clarinet, and I was not some gifted musician, but I remember auditioning for like municipal concert or something, and there would be blind sight reading and you would walk into a room. There would be a curtain. And behind the curtain was someone who would purely listen. And you would sit down at a chair. You couldn’t see who was behind there — man, woman, what color, how old? And there’d be a piece of sheet music on the stand, and you would hear the beep of a timer and you would just have to sight read.

You didn’t even talk. And so there are ways where you can isolate the product of someone’s work product or what their exam product is, and it can eliminate, or at least drastically reduce, any implicit bias. ‘Cause that’s one thing I think that we’ve realized this year, upon some introspection and examination is how important it is to pay attention to all of the implicit bias and micro-aggressions that probably a lot of people in this organization and the organization writ large around us is not even aware of, but that exist.

Z: I think one last thing I wanted to ask about and to come back to this issue of fairness and secrecy, a question that I have, ’cause you’re a person who has not only achieved a level of a Master Sommelier but who’s been heavily involved in WSET, but also is currently involved in education. One thing that I always wondered about with the court in particular is it has not often seemed to me — especially as I got a little further in — that really truly the goal was for me to succeed. And by what I mean by that is that it felt that in some sense, especially maybe in the period of time after the movie “SOMM” was released, which I think was fairly viewed as something of a watershed moment for the organization, because it really fundamentally changed the publicity, the level of a claim and just attention paid to Master Sommeliers and the Court of Master Sommeliers is that protecting the pass rate such as it is, or the low pass rate became a point of pride, or even maybe a focal point, and maybe it’s in those redacted minutes that none of us will ever see. But the exams were set up, or even perhaps administered in such a way where the goal was here’s what we want the pass rate to be. How do we design the test? How do we administer the test to protect that? And I will say this, this is me speculating wildly — this is not Jill. She can tell me I’m wrong. She can come back to me. It’s always been my belief that part of the reason the entire set of results for 2018 were invalidated is because frankly, too many people passed. And that is to me, a load of horses*** and really unfair. And is that a little conspiratorial thinking? Maybe. But I am pretty confident in saying that this isn’t the first time that there have been questions about whether someone had had access to information beforehand but it is the first time when 20-odd people passed. And I think, yeah, I think that was taken as an invitation to keep that pass rate down.

J: Well, I don’t necessarily agree with that and I’ll explain why. I could be wrong, by the way. And if that was the case, that would be horrible, but I don’t necessarily agree. For a couple of reasons.

One, I have seen — because I’ve been around for a bit — and I’ve seen the numbers of people passing increase. So when I passed the advanced exam in 2012, there were only 10 people in my group who passed. And in subsequent years, over the past decade, I’ve seen that number be in the teens and 20s and more, the MS has been historically low.

And that’s part of the fact of the matter is there’s just a lot fewer candidates. There’s just a lot fewer people at the MS exam. Now that said, at the 2018 exam that was a watershed moment because four years prior, in 2014, the format of the exam changed. There were so many people who had reached that level, because with the MS exam, you have to pass all three parts in three years, or you have to restart.

But from my understanding, there were more and more people who had reached that level, who were masters candidates and there were so many people who — frankly, there needed to be a way to allow these folks to test, but also keep it manageable. And so they separated theory from the other two parts of the exam.

So theory became a gateway, you had to pass the theory exam first. Once passed, you could then take service and tasting. So for example, I passed in 2018 on my fifth try. So I took the theory exam in 2014 for the first time and I passed it. That’s not terribly common, but I did.

And other people have, too. And then later that year, I took service and tasting and I passed service, but not tasting. I didn’t pass tasting the next year or the next year in 2016. So I reset, which sucks, but it happens to a lot of people. So 2017 rolls around and the same rule applies. I have to take theory and I pass theory, later that year I take service and tasting.

I pass service. I don’t pass tasting. I come back the next year, I pass tasting. That was true for a lot of people. So by the time you get to the service and the tasting exam portion, everyone in the room, all 50, 60, 70 people has already got at least one part down. And a lot of those people only needed one more part to pass and it’s not correct to assume that if you just keep taking the exam, you’ll pass it. There’s enough people who have never passed it, who would attest to that. But there were a lot of people at that exam who I’ve known most of my adult professional career, and we’d come up through the ranks together.

So I wasn’t the least bit, I was a little surprised, but I wasn’t shocked that so many people passed because so many people were so ready to pass that only had one part left who had taken the exam multiple times and were really seasoned, highly skilled sommelier professionals. Now here’s the problem, because it was so record-setting, that so many people passed, the lack of communication and explanation about the statistics of the candidate pool and those who passed has never been clearly articulated by the court. And I think that’s a huge failure. And I think that led to so many people thinking that the reason that exam was invalidated had to do with the large pass rate, because again all the people in the room had already passed one third of the exam, and I don’t know what proportion, but a large proportion of us only had to pass one more part. And so if we looked at it from a statistical standpoint, we weren’t starting at the start line at that point. And so I think that that’s part of it. But if the court had ever revealed data on “here’s the number of people who applied,” “here’s the number of people who tested,” “here’s the breakdown by gender and by sector of the industry that they work in,” that kind of data sharing where you can still protect identities would be incredibly helpful.

And if you look at the total candidate pool for the Masters exam in 2018, you have to include all the people who sat for the theory exam in 2018 and didn’t pass. And that’s the larger number. And if you look at the number of people who passed the whole exam, based on the total number of not just those of us who are in St. Louis but those of us who also took the theory exam that year, the percentage is actually fairly consistent with what it’s been through the years, but there’s a larger number of people in the shoot, and people who are testing through this organization. So of course the past numbers are going to go up, but I don’t know if that means the pass rate changes, but that’s never been clearly explained or articulated.

And when you don’t provide the information, people can draw whatever conclusion they want. So I don’t a hundred percent agree with you on that one.

Z: Fair enough. Fair enough. I’m over here, I’m down here in my basement with the photos and the red string. I want to shift gears and ask about one last thing before we wrap it up here, Jill, which is what you’re doing now for SOMM TV and in particular, your podcast. Do you want to say a little more about it?

J: Yeah, so this is peak 2020. I, like many others, started a podcast this year and it’s really funny. I’m a perpetual student. I just like the process. It gives me a sense of direction with my wine focus, and I like being informed. And so throughout the years in all of the different tests and things, I’ve become an avid collector of wine books and books are challenging because they go out of date really quickly when the world of wine moves fast.

But I like books for reference. I like books for aesthetics. I don’t know. I’m an avid reader. My grandmother was a librarian. Maybe that’s part of it. And the thing that I’ve noticed and it’s over the past few years, and I think it coincides with me reaching a level of — I know a lot about wine. I don’t know everything about wine, no one ever can, but I know a lot. And I’d be reading books and I was like “Oh, that’s just wrong. Wow.” And I started to develop this theory that one, I have no idea how one gets a publishing deal. I’ve never written a book. I’ve never tried to write a book, but from what I understand, and I have friends in the publishing industry, from what I understand there are editors, and I have friends who have published books and their editors work with them to make sure that their writing and the facts and things are correct. And I started reading these wine books and they were just full of errors. And sometimes the writing was awful and I thought maybe there’s a gap in the industry that I’m not aware of, where there’s just not enough editors who know enough about wine to edit a wine book. And it’s not a widespread problem. I mean, there are wonderful, wonderful books out there, but I was reading a few books and I was like this is just hot garbage.

And so I had done a few small feature pieces, videos and stuff with the team from Somm TV. And I was joking with Jason Wise, who’s the producer of the Somm films and Somm TV. And I was like, does Somm TV need a book reviewer? Like a wine book reviewer? And he was like ha ha call me. And so we hatched out this idea and so it just started on a lark.

And so I was furloughed for five months this summer. And so I had a lot of time on my hands, like many people, and I had never done anything like this. And so I had a very steep learning curve and some very kind and patient people shout-outs to Jason and Nadine. But it was very interesting and the whole premise is that I would just review wine books and try to offer some informed opinion and guidance on whether it was something that I felt people should certainly buy.

Maybe if they found it used to just give it a read and borrow it, or avoid this flashing red lights, this is garbage. And so it was really fun. And we recorded all these during the summer while I was furloughed. And then I had this moment before they launched and I was like “Oh my God,” have I been in this weird protected, isolated area where I think we’ve put up something that’s really clever and the population at large is going to think this is ridiculous and absolutely far too niche? And have no merit in the world of wine. And thankfully that’s not been the case. I mean, I don’t know what the stats are in terms of subscribers and downloads and things, but we’ve gotten some really positive feedback and it helps me in my goal to become well read and it’s been a passion project and it’s really funny when I talk to people and they’re like, “Wow, what’d you do this year? You weren’t working for a long time,” and I’m like, “I started a podcast.” It was my 2020 story, but it’s been so awesome. And, we took a little break, for the six weeks at the end of the year. ‘Cause I got to read some more books and then we’ll start back up again in January. So I’m excited.

Z: Well, I’m a regular listener. I enjoy it. It’s fun because I also think an important thing to note about what Joel does with the podcast is you really jump around, it’s a lot of different kinds of wine books. So there’s a mix of some of the most famous books in the genre that are a little more academic, although I assume you will never do “Wine Grapes” by Jancis Robinson. I can’t even imagine how you would review a book like that. It’s just information.

J: Well, if you’ve heard me fangirl about Jancis. You can probably imagine a little bit that it would be a glowing review.

Z: Since I’ve listened to at least one episode, Yes. I have heard you fangirl about Jancis,

J: But I don’t know that that would be very good listening.

Z: Probably not, but I wanted to say that what’s fun is that there’s also some interesting wine-adjacent books, or at least it’s not all textbooks. It’s not all academic books. There’s a lot of fun books and you even reviewed “Sideways.” I encourage people if they have any free podcast time that is not devoted to this podcast, give Reading and Drinking a listen, it’s a lot of fun. And Jill, thank you so much for your time I really appreciate it.

J: Oh my goodness. Thank you so much for having me. It’s just been a real joy to talk with you and I appreciate the support and shout-out for my podcast, too. That’s awesome, thank you.

Thanks so much for listening to the VinePair Podcast. If you enjoy listening to us every week, please leave us a review or rating on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever it is that you get your podcasts. It really helps everyone else discover the show. Now, for the credits. VinePair is produced and hosted by Zach Geballe and me, Adam Teeter. Our engineer is Nick Patri and Keith Beavers. I’d also like to give a special shout-out to my VinePair co-founder Josh Malin and the rest of the VinePair team for their support. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll see you again right here next week.

Ed. note: This episode has been edited for length and clarity

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