Summer Tipple

Master Sommelier June Rodil talks wine — and top summer sips

Master Sommelier June Rodil talks wine — and top summer sips

June Rodil sommelier
June Rodil is Austin's newest Master Sommelier, and one of only 229 pros in the world to hold the designation. Photo by Eric Morales

As the beverage director behind McGuire Moorman Hospitality, June Rodil oversees the drink menus at many of Austin’s most popular establishments, including Jeffrey’s, Perla’s, Clark’s, Josephine House and Elizabeth Street Café. She’s also Austin’s newest Master Sommelier, one of only 229 pros in the world to hold the prestigious designation.

Rodil has been active during her tenure at MMH in hosting rare, diverse and cool wine events featuring some of the world’s best wines and winemakers. On Sunday, she’ll host a broad tasting of wines from Germany, a region known for precise and nervy wines perfect for our hot Texas summers. We spoke to Rodil to get the story behind the event and to ask for pointers on summer drink orders.
 
CultureMap: As a sommelier, what’s the biggest challenge for you during the summer?
June Rodil: It’s that people just want to drink beer! A lot of people really do summer in Austin, so they’re out of town seeking cooler climates, or spending time at the lake. We live in a great city with so much to do, so I think heading to restaurants and drinking wine can be a secondary priority sometimes. It depends on the restaurant, though — these are our busiest months at Perla’s and Clark’s.
 
CM: How much more white wine do you sell during the summer?
JR: Quite a bit. It depends on the concept. Jeffrey’s will still sell more red than white in the summer, but at Josephine House, Perla’s and Elizabeth Street, we’re probably selling 70 percent white wine. That is awesome, because it means that our guests are in tune with the type of cuisine, and our climate, because white is definitely what I’d be drinking.
 
CM: What do you suggest to those die-hard red drinkers who won’t break out of their shells for summer?
JR: Chill it! No joke. A lot of people drink their reds way too warm, so I do not scoff at anyone who requests an ice bucket or even an ice cube. In fact, I was with a notable wine writer last week at Josephine House, and he asked for a side of ice for his red wine! It was great.
 
CM: On Sunday, you’ll be pouring quite a few rieslings at Josephine House’s “Summer Wines of Germany” event. Many sommeliers cite riesling as a favorite, but there’s some consumer stigma with the grape. What do you say to skeptical diners about riesling?
JR: First, it’s one of the best grapes in the world. It’s super versatile. There is a stigma attached to the idea of one style: that cloying, saccharine, overly sweet idea of riesling. But we’re showcasing so many styles: you can sample sparkling, bone dry, off dry and sweet, and this lets you see the versatility. It’s also a consistently great pairing. I personally gravitate toward these bottles.
 
CM: Do you have a favorite riesling pairing?
JR: As always, it depends. Here’s one: I really like Thai take-out, and I’ll pair the spätlese style with green curries and yellow curries to balance out the spice.  
 
CM: What made you decide to do this particular tasting?
JR: They are the perfect wines for summer! They’re low alcohol, super refreshing, high in acidity, and they go with everything. We’re not just doing riesling at the event: It’s Rudi Wiest’s portfolio, so we’ll have pinot blanc, silvaner, pinot noir and rosé to sample as well.
 
CM: What do you suggest to your staff as the best questions to ask diners to help find them the right bottle of wine?
JR: “What do you drink at home?” is a great opener, because then you have a sense of their day-to-day palate. From there, you can venture into a nice conversation about how far they’re willing to venture off on that evening. Is it a special event? Are they in an adventurous mood? Or do they want to stay in that comfortable realm from home? Those are good starting points.
 
CM: Finally, when you’re not drinking wine this summer, what are you drinking?
JR: I’m drinking beer! Sometimes you need a Lone Star. It’s lofty, I know, but it’s so easy and refreshing. I’ll also just have bourbon and water — I keep it pretty simple. But refreshing lagers are always good.
 
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The Summer Wines of Germany event at Josephine House takes place on Sunday, July 26 at 5 pm. Advance reservations are accepted at 512-477-5584, and tickets are $45 per person.