Name: Ziggy Eschliman
Location: Healdsburg, CA
Profession: Expert, Educator, Journalist, and Consultant of Wine & Spirits
Years in the Industry: 20+
Notable Achievements: Award winning radio shows, “Rock & Roll Sommelier” to legendary bands Journey and Heart
Q & A:
You’ve worked for more than 20 years to make wine more interesting and accessible to people. Do you think that cultural attitudes and understanding of wine has changed in that time?
Absolutely! No question. Culturally speaking, wine is being recognized in both home and events with several ethnicities that I’ve noticed. For example, many years ago, I created a radio show called “Vino Viernes” which aired for years on the number one Hispanic station in the Bay Area. The idea was to promote wine through pairing ideas, use educational wine fun facts; and to interview both winemakers and vintners in Spanish and English to embrace bi-lingual ease of wine “speak” and understanding of everything grape to glass. I made it fun, interesting and educational. I wanted to take any pretense out of wine so that everyone listening felt more comfortable to not only purchase wine in the store and on wine lists, but to bring wine to their table each evening. In general, the “understanding” of wine has most certainly changed, across all demographics. For the better! I like to think that my award winning radio shows the last 23 years have played a little part in that.
What’s the first thing you tell someone who wants to learn more about wine but isn’t sure where to start?
Taste and smell everything. Figure out what you like and what you don’t. The only way to get there is to try it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Go to wine bars and ask for tastes of things before you commit to a pour or flight of wine. Choose the wine that tastes good to you, at that moment. Our palates are different every day. And they are certainly different at different times of the day. Even the mood you’re in can play part to what you enjoy or not. Read magazines and books that break it down easy for you. Don’t start off with a huge wine book that was written to appeal to the big time oenophiles (fancy pants word for wine buffs) that will just turn you off! Instead embrace a Wine 101 type of book. There are many out there.
What’s the most exciting wine you’ve had recently?
Hard to say just one! BUT, I could say one region, the Le Marche region in Italy has my full attention right now. I’m loving the very cool, “Lacrima” wines, the sexy Montepulciano wines and Verdicchio (both still and sparkling) wines. The producers both small and large in that region have some rockin’ wines!
Do you have any “dark horse” recommendations for regions or vineyards that people should be paying attention to?
Regions and Vineyards: think Cooler and Coastal! Spain and Italy are dueling it out for my favorite right now. The Ribeiro region of Spain. Ohh, la la! I’m so keen on it right now. Keep an eye out for the Collio region of Italy too! That is most definitely on the forefront of my mind- besides my aforementioned Le Marche.
What’s one thing you wish you knew when you first got into the industry?
Every known variety of winegrapes. Just kidding! I’d have to say that I wish I knew more about the process of making white vs red wine. Initially, I just had a very, very broad idea. I spent every waking moment visiting wineries and spending time with winemakers to learn. I’m still learning. That is the joy of the wine world. I never want to stop learning.
Do you have any current or upcoming projects you’d like us to promote?
Sure thing! After more than two and a half focused decades in the wonderful world of wine (and spirits too) I’m launching a new company called “ZigStyle” Wine, Cocktails, Garden, Gather. Many of my friends & fans have long embraced my lifestyle here in wine country and now I’m taking it to heart by making my lifestyle more accessible to everyone. My wine knowledge through tasting and travel and favorite wine picks too. My cocktails, aka Zigtails. My love for gardening and my entertaining tips and tricks! As my bestie Marcy says, “everyone needs more ZigStyle in their life!” My “Ziggy the Wine Gal” brand will still be very much alive under the ZigStyle ‘umbrella’!
Photography courtesy of Hannah Gart.
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