Five Questions with Nicole Hakli
Which producer or area do you believe in that most people in the industry disagree with you on?
I think my colleagues would agree that tasting wines from roads less traveled is exciting and fun, but I don’t see many really investing or taking chances on these regions and their native varietals. Turkish wines have become meaningful to me after visiting my husband’s family there for the past 5 years. Unfortunately, the wines have been little received in New York City. No one is really looking to broaden their selections in this area. It is not so much that I would say my colleagues disagree, but it is work to taste and procure some of these more obscure wines. Turkish varietals can be very rewarding in classic programs, but they have to be sought out.
If you could only ask one question of another wine director, what would it be?
To my colleagues: “what is your favorite work-life balance tip?” Just can’t seem to crack this secret!
You have been a Wine Director and a Sommelier in some of the top restaurants in New York. what would you tell an aspiring wine professional about the difference between the two jobs and how to be best prepared?
Read, sell, and taste as much as possible while you are a floor Somm! And, ENJOY IT. Being on a team of sommeliers slinging wine at The Nomad was one of the most fun jobs that I ever had. When you become a wine director, you will have much less time to taste or study. Often, your team will just be you! Before taking that next step to buying, make sure you have an arsenal of knowledge and wines to boot. Try to also get as involved as much as possible with things like inventory and costing if you are allowed.
“ Before taking that next step to buying, make sure you have an arsenal of knowledge and wines to boot. Try to also get as involved as much as possible with things like inventory and costing if you are allowed.
Which trend or trends do you wish would go away?
There is a lot of hive mind happening with wine lists as of recent. As much as I love classics, I don’t go to different restaurants to see the same wines over and over again. As wine buyers, we have the unique opportunity of being tastemakers and voicing our opinions through the wine list. Take advantage of that creative opportunity and taste more wine!
What does “a great wine list” mean? Please describe.
A great wine list is inspired by the place. It has a clear point of view with wines that pair well with the food. It fits not only the cuisine style but also the creativity and opinions of the wine director. For a guest, the list should be organized and easily readable. Wine is already intimidating to many, so make its readability inclusive and accessible for your guests.
Follow Nicole on Instagram @nicole.hakli
Note: all answers above are posted without any cuts or edits.