Women sommeliers bring new zeal to wine tasting

Time:2021-12-13 19:58Source:http://petsluxue.top author:orientaltrading click: Times
===>Women sommeliers bring new zeal to wine tasting[field]===> Ashley Gao, a sommelier, tells customers about various fine wines at the Opposite House in Beijing. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Breaking into what has traditionally been considered a male bastion has been one of Ashley Gao's proudest moments. And when one considers that it was one of the toughest nuts to crack, the victory is even sweeter.

Gao, who works at the Opposite House, a luxury hotel in Beijing, is one of the few women sommeliers in the Chinese capital. Sommeliers, or wine stewards, are trained and knowledgeable wine professionals, who specialize in all aspects of wine, including food pairing.

The young and vivacious Gao, with her bright smile and cheerful nature, regales customers with her extensive knowledge of the finest wines as they appear lost for choices among the multitude of brands.

"Sommelier is a relatively new profession. I worked in a winery after my graduation and decided to become a sommelier and work 'on the front line' - dinner service. There are about 270 of us, and women account for about 14 percent of the total," she said.

She said the careers of female sommeliers are rather shorter than their male counterparts. As sommeliers mostly work at dinner services, social and family obligations were often detriments that prevented women from working in the evening for long hours. Sometimes it was the physical constraints of the job that got in the way, she said.

"My idol is Lee Meiyu, the first female sommelier who holds an advanced sommelier certificate and is the most advanced sommelier in Beijing," Gao said, adding that she's also preparing for the advanced certificate test.

She said although the ratio of women in the profession was still low, it is something that can certainly improve the quality of dinner services.

"Girls tend to be more patient and empathetic during dinner service, which is core to the dining experience," she said. "We meet all kinds of people during the dinner service, sometimes they can be stubborn and arrogant, and sometimes you need to detect the diners' relationship from the atmosphere to pick a suitable wine for them - if they are dating, if they are there for formal conversation. I think women are better than men in this profession."

Currently Gao is the only sommelier in Opposite House. For her, trust and support for female sommeliers is worth more than anything else. For example, apart from letting her take control of the wine service, every month she has been allowed to hold wine tasting events and handpick wine selections independently.

"Swire Group, Opposite House's parent company, already has several Chinese women at a management level in various positions," said a spokesperson from Opposite House. "It is rare enough that a foreign-invested company in China has local people in top management positions, let alone women."

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