Going 10 Rounds with Sommelier Jennifer Foucher
The head sommelier of Washington, D.C. restaurant Fiola tackles our speed round of questions.
What do you like to drink after a shift? “Definitely Champagne. No matter how long or challenging the day was, Champagne is always a good idea.”
What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? ““Sweet Home Alabama.” Everyone knows the words and enjoys playing air guitar and/or line dancing to it.”
Name the first good wine you ever drank and where you had it. “I was lucky enough to spend my summers in France growing up, since my Father is from Normandy. It was expected that I would develop an appreciation for wine early on but it did not happen until I was 18. My cousin ordered a simple Sancerre at a restaurant in Paris to go with raclette. Everything changed for me with that bottle and I only drank Sancerre for months after that.”
What book on wine is your go-to resource? “The digital world has changed the way I find answers. I like the Vinous website because there is so much information about Italian wines. They have such a great group of wine writers.”
Name the wine region that took you the longest to truly understand. “Barolo but I will never be finished understanding it. There’s always more to learn. Getting to visit has helped so much in my understanding the area geographically. It is truly amazing to drive through the different communes and to watch everything change even though they are such a short distance apart. It’s absolutely fascinating.”
What’s your favorite wine and food pairing? “Rosé Champagne and pepperoni pizza. Preferably a saignée method with a Napoli style pie.”
What’s the most common wine myth you have to debunk? “That Barolo is a full-bodied wine and similar to a Super Tuscan. Barolo is still so misunderstood. It is stuck in this place between Pinot Noir and Cabernet. It has its own identity that most people don’t ever discover.”
What’s your favorite bottle of wine under $20? “Triennes Rosé from Provence, France. It is good in every vintage and tastes even better on a patio when it’s sunny.”
What’s your favorite bottle of wine over $1,000? “1961 Giuseppe Mascarello. I have felt this way for years now. The first time I had it was when a guest asked me what I would drink if I could choose anything. There were definitely some tears as I took that first sip. Wines that make me emotional, remind me of why I got into this business in the first place. It is important to never let go of that true love for extraordinary wines.”
What tool do you use to open a bottle? “Pulltap double-hinged corkscrew. I go through about one a month. Ah-so for the old bottles.”
Jennifer Foucher is the head sommelier of Washington, D.C. restaurant Fiola.
Interview has been condensed and edited.