Sarah O’Kelley came to the beverage world via a significant food background from working in the Emeril’s culinary department in New Orleans to then opening and operating the Glass Onion, a popular restaurant in Charleston, SC. Ultimately wine stole her heart with its infinite intricacies, and over the past few years she has immersed herself in that world – traveling in France and California and even getting her hands dirty during harvest in Oregon. Currently, Sarah is Wine Director for Edmund’s Oast and is General Manager for their wine and beer store–Edmund’s Oast Exchange. There, she works diligently to create a diverse inventory and classes for wine lovers of all backgrounds. Sarah continues to find inspiration from her culinary roots and spends most of her down time cooking at home or writing about it at www.grapetotable.com
Delectable: What sparked your passion for wine?
Sarah O'Kelley: I had the luck to work with a wine industry veteran at a gourmet shop in Charleston when I first moved here, and that fully ignited my already existing passion. Beyond that, once I started my own restaurant I began going through the Court of Master Sommeliers certifications, and subsequently I went fully down the wine rabbit hole!
D: What wine region are you wild about right now?
SO: Oh gosh, I can get excited about all of them the moment I start discussing their intricacies. But I am ALWAYS excited about Burgundy – my first love! But I also love the Loire with its incredible diversity and value (especially compared to Burgundy!)
D: What is the most unusual wine you’ve ever tried?
SO: Lopez de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rosé 2008 – I already love Lopez and to have the honor of trying their hard-to-find rosé was a true pleasure and honor. Sure it’s “rosé” but it’s unlike any other rosé – released with significant age and all the tertiary characteristics that go with age. We enjoyed it on the deck with a cheese board and good friends, but I kept drinking it even as we moved onto grilled rib eye. It’s a rosé that can stand up to all that!
D: What is your golden rule for wine?
SO: Wine should speak of its place and tell a story! Also, wine should be for everyone! It’s a great way to unite people.
D: Say you’re not allowed to have wine, what is your second option?
SO: I do also love beer preferably a Saison – whether it’s a restrained classic like Saison Dupont or something funky! Also love Orval – perhaps the best beer on the planet?
D: Choose a movie, book, quote, or song and pair it with a wine
SO: One of my favorite movies of all time has to be the Royal Tenenbaums because of its quirky humor. So I would pick a wine that is just as quirky and fun – anything from Minimus Wines in Oregon but particularly his Illegal Rosé from last year – lord only knows if he will make it again. But I love Chad Stock’s fresh take on Oregon!
D: If you were a wine, what wine would you be?
SO: I would most definitely be Chenin Blanc – my favorite grape! Hoping to project all the characteristics I love in it – bright, shiny, fun, and developing complexity with age.