Reality television thrives on wardrobe makeovers, in which professional stylists assess bewildered women’s contours and devise dressing plans to flatter them. With his latest venture, advanced sommelier Patrick Emerson is proposing to do the same for wine drinkers and their palates.
“One of the things I enjoy doing is working with individuals and giving them tests,” says Emerson, the former Maverick Southern Kitchens wine and beverage director who transitioned to freelance consulting earlier this year. “Most people know what they like in terms of taste, but they have a hard time describing it.”
Under the auspices of Communion Wine Club, “for a couple of hundred bucks,” Emerson will conduct a personalized tasting designed to reveal exactly how much fruit, body and residual sugar the subject prefers in a wine, ideally simplifying future purchases.
Emerson says many drinkers “talk dry, but drink sweet,” confounding sommeliers and sellers who try to match them with the right bottle.
When it comes to dealing with restaurant wine lists, though, Emerson stresses he won’t abandon customers after tests reveal why they’re likely to prefer a French Syrah to a California Cab. “If you’re in a restaurant, you can call me and say ‘I’m looking at this and this’,” he says. “Absolutely, I hope it’s an ongoing relationship.”
Beyond ordering smartly in restaurants, test-takers should also gain the knowledge needed to start building home wine collections, Emerson adds.
“People think you have to have a huge cabin under your house, but you can have a few bottles in your closet,” Emerson says. “I can make suggestions.”
While Emerson continues to work closely with restaurants developing beverage programs, other Communion services available to individual clients include themed dinner-planning and private wine tastings.
Although he hasn’t yet settled on a space, Emerson says he hopes Communion can eventually find a permanent home in Charleston.
“I would love to open something in the future and use it as a bar and hold classes,” he says.