A day in the life with Katie Stillwell by Nadine Nettmann

Have you ever thought about a bottle of wine as you open it? I don’t just mean the type of wine or the winery, but really thought about the journey the bottle has been on? To start, what about the vintage? What were you doing the year the grapes were growing? What happened in the world?

Some bottles have been waiting decades to be opened while others have only waited a few years, but no matter the length of time, the wine you’re about to drink is a piece of history. It’s a moment of time captured in a bottle, waiting to be uncorked.

This is one of the things I love doing as a sommelier at Trentino Restaurant in San Francisco where I’m working tonight. I love sharing some of the wine’s story and the journey that has brought this particular bottle to this particular table on this particular night. There’s so much more to each bottle of wine than what’s on the label.

For example, the vineyards. Each one is a little different, from the slope of the land, to the way the sun shines on the grapes, to the fog that may or may not settle in the area overnight. Then there’s all of the people involved in the process from picking the grapes to pressing, fermenting, and bottling, each one playing a role in the creation of the wine, making it unique.

I especially love talking about the winery if I’ve been there. I can really bring the whole experience to the table, but only if the guests are interested. I can talk about wine forever so I make sure to only share as much information as they want to hear and it’s an even balance.

I like balance in my life, but mostly it’s studying for my sommelier exam — I have the Advanced coming up soon. Although recently, I seem to be in this habit of solving murders. It’s not something I sought out, but it seems to have found me. The most recent incident involved a bottle where the history of the wine didn’t match the label, if you know what I mean. But I can’t get into that now. A table has just requested a 2009 Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara.

This is the moment I look forward to all day. I get to share the story and journey of a wine made from grapes growing eight years ago in the sun-baked weather of Santa Barbara, California. The grapes were pressed, fermented, and bottled, all in anticipation of this very moment to be opened and enjoyed. This wine has been waiting eight years to shine.

Right now, I’m about to open a bottle of history.


You can read more about Katie in Uncorking A Lie, the second book in the “Sommelier” mystery series.

It was the kind of invitation sommelier Katie Stillwell had only dreamed about: a dinner party at the Sonoma mansion of famed wine collector Paul Rafferty to celebrate a rare bottle. Everyone enjoys drinking the $19,000 wine, but Katie realizes it’s not the vintage listed on the label.

When she confides in Mr. Rafferty, he asks her to investigate, and she soon discovers the deception goes beyond money—it includes an accidental death that might just be murder. As Katie falls deeper into the world of counterfeit wine, she learns everything is at stake . . . even her life.

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About the author
Nadine Nettmann, a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, is always on the lookout for great wines and the stories behind them. She has visited wine regions around the world and pairs every chapter in her Sommelier Mystery Series with a wine. Her debut novel, Decanting a Murder, was nominated for the Agatha and Lefty Awards for Best First Novel. To learn more about Nadine, please visit nadinenettmann.com.

All comments are welcomed.

6 responses to “A day in the life with Katie Stillwell by Nadine Nettmann

  1. If the post is indicative of the book, it sounds like there will be a lot of interesting info in it!

  2. Abby Fabian

    I will have to check out this series!

  3. Love the word play with the Wine. Thanks for sharing this with us.