Sommelier Interviews: Eric C. Sigmund, CS, CSW

10/08/2019 No Day is the Same for Eric, He Wakes up with a New Challenge Each Day.

Eric Sigmund is a certified wine and spirits professional, working as a Wine Manager and Buyer at Total Wine & More. He manages a portfolio of nearly 8,000 distinct wines from around the world. He also helps develop team members' wine and spirits acumen by providing product, merchandise and sales training.

Total Wine & More Store

Eric was recently a part of the leading panel of judges at the 2018 USA Wine Ratings. In an exclusive interview with us, he brought to light his experience as a Wine Buyer and Sommelier, the drink he fancies the most and the evolution of a Sommelier's role in past years.

What’s a Wine Trend that you’re Currently Excited About?

Although I can imagine many eyes rolling, I am very excited about the increasing number of canned wines available on the market.  Canned wines are a lifestyle trend and make it easier to incorporate wine into everyday events such as picnics, going to the beach or enjoying a day by the pool.  Canned wines also tend to be more whimsical and are a vehicle for producer experimentation with new or different wine styles.  From a marketing standpoint, canned wines also have the potential to attract new consumers to the wine segment such as millennials or those who typically drink beer.

Where and What do you Like to Drink when you’re not Working?

When I’m not working I prefer to share a bottle of wine or sipping a bourbon with my wife while relaxing at home.  Although I’m a “wine guy”, sometimes there isn’t a good substitute for a nice cold beer. Ultimately my mood and circumstances will dictate what I select to drink any particular evening.

What are some Challenges you Face as a Wine Buyer or a Sommelier?

The biggest challenge I face on the floor are customers who are unwilling to explore wines outside of their comfort zone.  For me, wine is an exploration that stimulates the senses and provides a glimpse into incredible places throughout the world.  Those who are unwilling to take a chance on a new varietal or sample something outside of their preferred region are missing the point.  I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t stock up on your “go-to” house wine, but that you should be open-minded enough to test the waters every once in a while.  Not every new wine you try will become afavouritee, but I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you are missing. 

What you Look for when you Plan to Buy Wine for your Business?

When selecting wines to purchase for my shop, I look for quality and value. One of my greatest joys is suggesting a wine for a customer that drinks double its price point.  That may be a $20 bottle that drinks like a $40 bottle or a $50 bottle that is comparable to those $100 bottles on the market.  For me, that is the benchmark of value and is exciting when found.

What’s your Typical Day…like what do you do in the Mornings, Afternoons and Evening and after the Guests are gone?

I long for a typical day.  Each day presents new challenges and no day is the same as the one before.  Thinking, learning and acting on the fly is my typical day!

How has the Role of the Sommelier Evolved in the Last 20 years?

I work in the retail space with little direct restaurant experience, so I’ll leave this one to the experts. Which varietals or countries are in demand these days for your business?

Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles is hot right now. People love the big rich, fruit-forward Cabernets that are stylistically Paso.  These are also easy to understand and accessible wines for your typical wine consumer. People like to drink what they are familiar with – so California Cab is a slam dunk even if it’s from an up and coming region. 

Indigenous varietals from Southern Italy, such as Nero d’Avola and Aglianico, are also gaining recognition as consumers look for delicious wines at better values than those from more famous wine regions.   

The competition will take place on October 24, 2020, and winners will be announced on November 16, 2020. Check out winning impact.