I’m Christy Fuhrman, I’m the Sommelier and Wine Director at Vera Restaurant and Wine Bar.
Q1: Tell us about your path to becoming sommelier at Vera.
My path is definitely a little bit different. I’m the sommelier with the punk rock past. I started in the industry working in night clubs and punk bars, and after many years of that, spending all my money going out to nice places for food and wine, I decided, wait a minute, I’m totally doing this the wrong way. This is the field that I should be working in because my vacations were planned around where I went so what I could eat and drink, and it was just like – there is a different end of the industry that I should be doing here, and just started studying, took a job at a wine shop and just kind of pushed my way in the door.
Q2: Walk us through a week in your life.
Currently my weeks have been a little crazy. Monday’s I have a tasting group, usually followed by work. Tuesday I have a Skype theory group, and then it’s usually a good day for me to meet with distributors, get a little bit of paperwork done and then of course on the floor at night. Wednesday is kind of my free morning, which is anything I need to get done extra for the restaurant or anything I need to do for myself as well. Thursday mornings I have another tasting group, followed by full service in the restaurant. Friday and Saturday are always busy days, usually no times for appointments or anything like that, it’s just all about staff and service and getting things ready. Usually try to do a little staff education on Friday when we can squeeze it in, and then every other Sunday off.
Q 2.5: Can you explain your tasting & theory groups?
I’m part of a couple of different groups that are going through the Court of Master Sommeliers. In most of my groups everybody is studying for either Advanced or Masters. The real purpose of the wine tasting, or the deductive tasting as the court now prefers, is so we know what our benchmarks are. How do you know if your Rioja is correct if you don’t know what a correct Rioja is. It’s a great way to make sure you stay on point and you can’t pre-judge the wines because you don’t know what the wine is. And the theory group is just, wine is so much to know, it’s just great to have people that you can constantly go through circles of questions to keep us on point and keep us on our toes. The greatest thing about wine is that it constantly changes.
Q3: Ketchup or mustard on your hotdog?
So I am neither a Chicagoist or anybody else when it comes to my hotdog. I do not put mustard or ketchup on it. I actually go Coney Island Dog despite growing up in the South. So chili, cheese and onions are my hotdog condiments.
Q4: Does Vera’s wine program have a specific focus?
We definitely focus on the Iberian Peninsula, Spain and Portugal are huge, super important to us. And then we still have a global list but everything tends to be a bit more old world or old world sensibilities. You want to taste where it’s from.
Q5: What is your favorite food & wine pairing on the menu?
Hands down our octopus with a glass of the Bellori. The citrus in the Bellori Verdejo just lights up the octopus, it’s amazing.