Featured User: Joyce Lin

Born and raised in Taiwan, Joyce Lin is a certified sommelier based in New York City. Her passion for wine has led her to pursue a career in the wine business by receiving her certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers in 2015. Since then, Joyce has been working as a wine professional, writing about wine, hosting tasting events, and consulting for food and wine pairings. Naturally, Joyce is the ultimate gourmet. She enjoys cooking, eating out, and traveling. “There is nothing better than enjoying a glass of good wine with family and friends,” as Joyce would say. Delectable: What sparked your passion for wine? Joyce Lin: Well, you find people often say that they tasted a specific bottle of wine that got them into wine. For me, that was not the case. I was born and raised in Taiwan (we have delicious beer, award winning whiskey, and Baijiu which is specially made in Kinmen), and I come from a family that rarely drinks, not even beer. That being said, how did I end up working in the wine industry? I came to New York to pursue a Master’s degree in Art Management more than a decade ago. Since then, I started to explore different kinds of cuisines and try various alcoholic beverages. In the beginning, it was daunting for me to order a drink in a bar or restaurant. Even ordering a beer seemed like mission impossible. There are just too many choices! In order to conquer my fears, I first started to learn about different kinds of beer and cocktails, then wine came second. To be honest, as a wine novice without guidance, I had no idea what I should buy or what I should drink. It’s like drifting in the ocean and without knowing where to go. Fortunately, I found an intensive wine program offered by the International Culinary Center and told myself, “Okay, if I want to learn and understand wine, why not go to a school to get trained and educated properly?” Boy! Attending the wine program really opened up my eyes to the world of wine. My passion for wine grew more and more along the way, and the next thing I knew, I had to work in the wine business. For me, there wasn’t a single moment or a special bottle that really got me into wine but rather the progress of the development of wine appreciation steered me into the industry. Now I only wish I could have started this earlier. D: What wine region are you wild about right now? JL: I would say the Loire Valley. It is a wine region that has so much to offer, from the Crémant de la Loire sparkling wines, to Rosé, red, white, and dessert wine. Often, Loire Valley wines have been overlooked and people are only familiar with the well-known wine Loire regions such as Muscadet, Vouvray, Chinon, Sancerre, and Pouilly-Fumé. There are many smaller sub-regions in the Loire producing delicious and quality wines at affordable prices. They deserve your attention and are worth exploring. I believe you won’t be able to find a wine region as unique and versatile as the Loire Valley. D: What is the most unusual wine you’ve ever tried? JL: Back in June, I had an interview with Jurgen Gouws, the winemaker and owner of Intellego Wine of Swartland, South Africa. During the interview, I tasted the 2017 Elementis and it blew my mind. Elementis is made with 100% old bush vine dry- farmed Chenin Blanc. The grapes were de-stemmed and fermented on their skins for 13 days, then aged in old French oak barrels for 10 months. I have never tasted a skin contact Chenin Blanc before, but it was oddly beautiful with yellow bouquet fragrance, citrus with yellow apple and stone fruit on the nose, ginger with a hint of baking spice hidden in the back, mouthwatering with salinity and pleasant grippiness. It was unique, delicious with a long finish, and balanced. It is a wine you should not miss if you can acquire a bottle or find it in a restaurant. D: What is your golden rule for wine? JL: There are a few major elements I look for, whether I’m tasting a ten-dollar wine or a bottle for two grand: acidity, flavor and aroma, body, finish and balance. Besides these rules, having great company to enjoy wine together will always make the wine taste even better! D: Say you’re not allowed to have wine, what is your second option? JL: Gin would be my go-to. I enjoy and appreciate the aromas in wine, and gin is a liquor that meets the requirement. On a hot summer day, I’ll have a cucumber gin and tonic. It’s very refreshing. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll drink a French 75. It is a classy cocktail that I’ll never get tired of. St. Germain elderflower liqueur is another great element that I like to mix with gin. D: Choose a movie, book, quote, or song and pair it with a wine. JL: When Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” came out in 2011, I fell in love with the movie immediately. It wasn’t because the story took place in Paris, but rather I appreciated that Woody Allen took a different angle to look at life, and strangely, it made sense. My choice of wine to pair with the movie would be Michel Chapoutier Ermitage Le Pavillon. It’s a Syrah from the Northern Rhône. This wine is divine and a wonder, as if you were Gil going back to the 1920s and meeting all of the artists and writers in his so-called “golden age.” D: If you were a wine, what wine would you be? JL: Wow, this is a tough question. Pinot Noir is a grape variety that I find comprehensive but intriguing at the same time, especially from Burgundy. It is a wine that requires time and patience in order to discover its beauty. I see those qualities in myself and I appreciate it. If I could choose a specific region, it would be Gevrey-Chambertin, one of my favorite Burgundian villages. Its wines are usually juicer, compared to wines from neighboring villages, but they have the complexity and longevity to age.