Wine Time

Wine of the Week - Marcy Jimenez of Houston Wine Merchant

Marcy Jimenez has been in the wine industry for 10 years. She started as a restaurant sommelier, but has been the wine buyer for the Houston Wine Merchant for a little more than two years. "Being a buyer is less stressful and frenetic," she said. "I also have much better hours." But being a buyer is not all glitz and glamour. "Most people think I just taste wine all day," she said. "What they don't realize is that I spend the majority of my day in front of the computer doing paperwork." Jimenez spends a lot of time working with her clients and sends a weekly newsletter to thousands of people.

How did she break in to the wine business? As a bartender, of course. "I started as a bartender in New Orleans, and it was a natural progression. New Orleans is all about great food and drinking, so as a 24-year-old with pockets full of money, I started eating out and drinking a lot of wine." The rest was history.

Jimenez came to Houston with the rest of New Orleans in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina devastated her city. She was fortunate to quickly get a job with Mockingbird Bistro as a sommelier. We asked if she had plans to return to New Orleans. Probably not. "I'm studying for the Court of Master Sommeliers, and I have a great support group here in Houston," she said. "I started the introductory course in 2004, but New Orleans didn't have a good support group. When I came to Houston, I joined a great study group and started studying with Guy Stout." Jimenez will be taking the advanced level exam in April.

So, what can she not live without? Brian Julyan's Sales and Service for the Wine Professional. "It is the be-all, end-all for sommeliers," she told us. If you are just starting out, though, Jimenez recommends reading Karen MacNeil's Wine Bible from cover to cover.

We asked Jimenez about her favorite wines. "I like wines from all different regions, but I drink a lot of Loire Valley whites," she said. For us, she recommended the Delas St. Esprit Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge, 2007. We were in the mood for a dry red instead of a white. "This is a great wine for the price," Jimenez told us. At $11.99, she was right. The light red wine was very smooth and easy to drink. In fact, we emptied the bottle. It did have an unexpected spicy note at the end that novice red wine drinkers may not like. It was delicious with the beef empanadas we had, but you really don't need food with this wine.

Talking about wine, buying wine, and drinking wine all day must get old. "Yes, there are days when I just don't want any more wine," says Jimenez. "But, I love wine, and I love my job."

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Jane Catherine Collins