Fred Dexheimer is one of only a little over two hundred Master Sommeliers in the World, a title he achieved in 2007.
In a career that spans over 20+ years in the Wine and Hospitality Industry, Fred has developed 36 restaurant and hotel wine and beverage programs. He is an ambassador and a speaker to dozens of wine regions around the world and is an in-demand wine educator and entertainer.
In addition to his wine duties, Fred is an accomplished cocktail developer with over 100 original recipes created. He is currently developing an Online Wine Education Program titled Taste Like a Master, where aspiring wine professionals and aficionados can learn the skills, systems, and communications to taste wine like a master. Here’s what he can teach bartenders about mixing wine cocktails and developing a post-COVID wine program.
Have you been using this time to create unique quarantine cocktails?
Yes, I’ve been playing around with a few cocktails during this time. Mainly gin and bourbon. Pretty simple ones, to be honest. I’ve been drinking bourbon (spirit of choice), with Gatorade (for the hangover), a splash of fresh OJ (vitamin C dose), topped with Ginger Beer (a little spice is nice) and Angostura bitters (for, you know, the digestion). Sounds weird but it has all the stuff you need during these times!
I plan to start messing around with a few syrups and possibly some tinctures this week. If I was a full-time bartender I’d be going crazy right now in my kitchen creating all sorts of bitters, tinctures, syrups, and infusions.
I bet when we are allowed to go back to work you will see a whole new world for cocktail menus.
I think now is the time to study advanced books like Liquid Intelligence, Aviary and Cocktail Codex and dig back into the classic books like Savoy and the works of Jerry Thomas. Work on perfect technique as well. Maybe take up ice carving or stylistic applications more common in other parts of the world. YouTube is a click away! I will always be in pursuit of making the greatest Manhattan ever! I have my secrets…
How will your Taste Like a Master online tasting program help bartenders learn about, suggest, and serve wine?
The Taste Like a Master program is designed to answer the questions I encounter every day from all sides of the industry. The what, why, where, who and how to taste wine. Knowledge is power. Before this pandemic, I always felt that I could be of service to teach bartenders wine tasting, selling, and buying skills. There has always been compartmentalization between the bar and service as there is with Front and Back of House in general. So building a program that bartenders can learn from on a phone or at home on their computer in this time could empower them to help be even better coming back to work is a great concept for me!
How will wine programs change upon bar reopening?
Wine programs will never be the same. There are many reasons for this but the main two points I will focus on are the following.
Human interaction will not be the same. The personal touch that a sommelier or bartender had will be different. That closeness and familiarity will take a long time to be restored.
The second part is the pricing. I am not certain people will want to pay 3-4 times markups on wine that are standard in the industry. Mind you as a beverage director for two decades plus, these markups in general dovetail into a manageable P+L in an industry that sees at best 10% profit. The on-premise wine industry will take this account as people are now used to buying wines at retail prices from restaurants. That habit may be hard to break for many.
It’s a new world and we all have to pivot to new ideas. Ask your loyal customers and community what their needs are and adapt.
What advice can you offer bartenders and bar owners?
Work with your suppliers to create sustainable and dynamic relationships that serve the guest. Take part in community efforts and support your core staff in a meaningful way.
A lot of experiences will now need to be virtual with AI type events. Service via Zoom. storytelling and connectivity in a virtual way. I have been doing these types of things for a few years now. I will miss the human touch but look forward to adapting and communicating in a new way in this world.