Sara Fasolino, author of Cabernet Sauvignon: Beginners Guide, Launches Her Blog Tour

Monday, August 13, 2012
& special e-book giveaway!

Sadly, I’ve spent my entire adult life letting other people choose my wine for me with a wave of my hand and an uninterested “Whatever.” Recently, a friend decided it was time for me to start acting like a grown-up and appreciate wine making as the true art it is. Slowly, I’m starting to recognize different types of wines and, instead of drinking whatever is placed before me, decide what I truly like.

If you’ve decided to expand your knowledge of wine, look no further than the beginner wine series by sommelier Sara Fasolino. Her book Cabernet Sauvignon: Beginners Guide is the perfect place to start. In addition to advice on choosing a good Cabernet Sauvignon, there is wine trivia and history, food pairings, and other tips for wine lovers. It’s a book everyone should have on their e-reader.

And, in the interest of making sure everyone has some wine knowledge on their virtual bookshelf, Sara and 101 Publishing are offering everyone a book. Yes, everyone! All you have to do is fill out the form on the Facebook App. You can choose Cabernet Sauvignon: Beginners Guide or one of 20 other wine books! Along with familiar types such as Champagne and Zinfandel there are a few I’ve never even heard of . . . Melon de Bourgogne, Nebbiolo, Tempranillo and more! The giveaway contest closes on the last day of the tour Wednesday, September 7 at 11:59 PM, PST. Don’t let your friends miss out. Tweet about this great giveaway using our hashtag #Wine101CabSauv.

E-Book: 22 pages
Publisher: 101 Publishing (July 1, 2012)
Genre: Nonfiction
Twitter Hashtag: #Wine101CabSauv

Cabernet Sauvignon: Beginners Guide is available in e-format at Amazon.

About the Author:

Sara Fasolino is the Beverage Systems Manager at Morton's The Steakhouse and is recognized in the industry as a Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers, as a Certified Specialist of Wine by the Society of Wine Educators and as an Advanced Mixologist. Fasolino's role with Morton's includes overseeing the restaurant's beverage inventory for all its locations, serving as the restaurant's liaison with the Court of Master Sommeliers and managing all educational and training materials related to the restaurant's wines, liquors and beers. Fasolino's experience in the restaurant industry dates back to her college years in Ohio, where she was a server in a restaurant. Upon graduation from Marietta College with a bachelor's degree in psychology, she worked with a beverage marketer and distributor in Ohio before relocating to Chicago in 2005. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., Fasolino has been with Morton's The Steakhouse since 2007, working in its global headquarters.

Find the author on Twitter: @SommelierSara

---------Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: Sara, when I read that you were a "Certified Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers" my imagination ran wild. I could picture you being "knighted" by some sort of Wine King. But seriously, tell us how you became a sommelier. What's an average day like for a sommelier?

Sara: Well actually, it was a bit like getting knighted by a wine king! Let me explain. First, I decided to go about this course at the suggestion of my former boss and mentor while working as the Corporate Beverage Manager for Morton’s The Steakhouse. I have been in the restaurant/beverage industry since college and he felt that it would give all of that hard work some added credibility. After panicking a little, I finally agreed to the challenge.

Becoming a Sommelier is a difficult task. Within the Court of Master Sommeliers there is a four tiered structure that leads to the eventual goal of becoming a Master Sommelier. Keep in mind there are only about 100 Master Somms in the US. So the first exam is called the Intro Exam. This is a written exam that focuses on regions, grape varieties . . . things like that. Upon passing this exam a person may call themselves a Sommelier, but they are technically not “certified.”

The second exam is the Certified. It is about a hundred times more difficult than the Intro Exam and consists of a written exam as well as a service practical where you have to properly serve a Master Sommelier still or sparkling wine while they fire questions at you about regions, styles, vintages, food pairing, cocktails, beers, cigars and things like that. If you get through that without shaking so badly you spill wine everywhere, and you have passed the written exam, you can call yourself a Certified Sommelier.

Once this task is achieved, you can apply to take the Advanced Exam. If your application is accepted, you are subject to almost certain death. Your life stops and all you do is study and taste and practice. The exam is a week long affair. It begins with a practical exam that is a thousand times more difficult than the Certified. After that, you move to a service practical that is three parts: Decanting, Champagne Service, and food pairing/spirit identification. Again, at each of these three tables, the Master Somms are firing questions at you about everything under the sun. The third part of this exam is the blind tasting where using a deductive process you have to identify the grape variety, region and vintage of 6 wines–the caveat is you have to do it in about 12 minutes. If you make it through this (only about 4% of the people taking the exam pass) you may or may not get invited to take the Master Exam. Honestly I’m emotionally exhausted just thinking about this process! I have attempted the Advanced Exam and was not part of the 4% but I fully intend on going back and subjecting myself to more pain.

WOW: I may have to lie down after hearing about that! If that’s what the test is like, what's an average day like for a sommelier?

Sara: An average day for a Sommelier can vary vastly given your duties and job description. For me personally, I oversee the Beverage Programming for 822 Chili’s Locations and 44 Maggiano’s nationwide, so my duties fall in more of negotiations with suppliers to find the best products at the best price. For most Somms, however, working in the restaurants directly with the guests in service and sales is their main activity while others work in sales with wholesale distributors. One common thread we all share, though is that we have a passion for teaching about wines and spirits. Most Somms should be very down to earth and willing to help you understand things without making you feel embarrassed; that said, if you ever run into a snobby one you have my permission to call them out or completely ignore them. They are not doing their job correctly!

WOW: You're touring with Cabernet Sauvignon: Beginners Guide but you've written several books on several different wines. Do you have a favorite type of wine? If you were stranded on a deserted island with one bottle of wine, what would it be?

Sara: I really don’t have a favorite type; I like pretty much all of them. For me, winemaking is an art and I respect any artist who makes an attempt to put themselves out there to be judged—that’s scary and deserves respect. I typically choose wine in two ways: either by the food I am eating with it or by the weather. For example, on a hot summer day I would be more likely to choose Sauvignon Blanc than Merlot. If I were choosing Sauvignon Blanc regardless of whether or not I was pairing it with food I would then choose the style. Do I want fruity from New Zealand or flinty from the Loire? My mood and the food are typically the deciding factor on that.

So to answer your question about the Island—well, the food would likely be fish and the weather would be sunny and warm so . . . I would stick with a white wine—a nice white Grenache would be great or maybe a Riesling from Germany or a Torrontes from Argentina . . . so many choices, so little time!

WOW: Oh my, I’m still caught up in the fact that you described a wine as “flinty.” I can’t even begin to understand what that means! I must confess, I always let friends choose my wine for me. Why should we all know at least a bit about wine?

Sara: That’s a very good question . . . everyone should know a little about wine so that you can choose what you like rather than relying on someone else’s ratings, reviews or marketing. I often see people buying wine because someone else rated it highly and I think that is a dangerous thing in a way.

Think about it this way—how do you like your peanut butter and jelly? Do you like more peanut butter? More Jelly? Equal amounts? If you ask a group of people this question you will find many different answers. Our taste preference is strongly related to our upbringing and the things we were exposed to.

What I am saying is just because someone who happens to write reviews for a magazine likes something it doesn’t mean that they are right about their review or that you will or will not like something that they love or hate. Having a little knowledge can give you the confidence to make those decisions on your own and find what YOU like.

The other reason is that the wine industry is a for profit business like any other—sure, there is passion and love but at the end of the day it is a commodity like any other. A little knowledge can help you weigh out the good from the bad. For example, a passionate winemaker may make an incredible wine and charge—say $50 for it—while another perhaps not so scrupulous winemaker may try to make it seem like their wine is also worth $50 and it's really worth about $5. On the flip side of that, from a retail standpoint, a little knowledge can help you understand if the retail mark up is in line with where it should be. If you visit a few different stores you will notice that they pretty much (depending on the state laws) have different pricing on the same items. Knowledge is power!

WOW: I'm sure many people think of wine as a rich man's interest. Do you have to be wealthy to enjoy good wines? Can those of us smack in the middle of the middle class (who are worrying about our children’s looming college tuition bills) also find worthwhile wines to match our budget?

Sara: Indeed . . . YES! There are so many good wines out there that are budget friendly! The best advice I can give here is to take a deep breath and break away from the brands you know best. You’ll be amazed at the quality of the lesser known brand names. I recently did a side-by-side blind tasting of wines specifically geared towards budget friendly and was surprised by how good the lesser known brands tasted. Some I had never even heard of tasted much better than the big names!

WOW: And now a quick question for the next dinner party I'm invited to . . . is Cabernet Sauvignon a good wine to take as a gift when you're invited to someone's home? Is it versatile? Do most people like it?

Sara: Absolutely! Cabernet Sauvignon is still King among grapes. It is good to drink on its own and pairs well with rich foods like steak but its biggest strength is that it is positively brilliant with chocolate!

WOW: Wine and chocolate? You’ve convinced me!

--------- Blog Tour Dates

Wednesday, August 15 @ Books, Books, The Magical Fruit
Although Books, Books The Magical Fruit calls the land of wine (California) home, she's eager to learn more about Cabernet Sauvignon from wine expert and author Sara Fasolino.

Friday, August 17 @ A Writer’s Life
Need the perfect wine for your next dinner party? Maybe sommelier Sara Fasolino can help you. Don't miss a review of her book Cabernet Sauvignon: Beginners Guide.

Tuesday, August 21 @ CMash Loves to Read
Stop by for male and female points of view on a great wine book for beginners: Cabernet Sauvignon: Beginners Guide.

Wednesday, August 22 @ Thoughts in Progress
Come enjoy a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with us and read the review of Sara Fasolino's Cabernet Sauvignon: Beginners Guide.

Monday, August 27 @ Misadventures with Andi
Experiment with a new wine after reading Sara Fasolino's book about Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wednesday, August 29 @ Donna's Book Pub
Want to know more about the world of wine? Stop by to learn about a wine series and receive a free e-book on the wine of your choice.

Friday, August 31 @ Empty Nest
Last chance to read a review of Sara Fasolino's Cabernet Sauvignon: Beginners Guide and register for a free e-copy.

Get Involved!
If you have a website or blog and would like to host one of our touring authors or schedule a tour of your own, please email us at

Download the FREE Wine E-Book of Your Choice HERE:
There are 21 books to choose from!



Margo Dill said...

Wine might not go with breakfast, but a free wine book sure does! I just downloaded my copy. :) I currently am really into cabernet sauvignon. Would love to hear what everyone else is into!

Tracy Crossley said...

Great post. I am a wine newbie (started the love affair with it back in 09) and love discovering different varieties. I may have to pick up the book. Thank you.

LuAnn Schindler said...

All wine!! But, I'm on a Moscato kick right now. So versatile. :)

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