If you hate your job, stop reading this, because there are some jobs that are cooler than yours. Like medical marijuana testers. Or that secret shopper position nobody on earth knows how to get. Or the job of Talia Baiocchi, a wine reviewer for WineChap.com who basically goes to the most notable restaurants in NYC to review their wine lists. Not a bad gig. Talia—a hipsterish girl, not a chap—recently completed a marathon of on-the-job drinking, having visited more than 30 restaurants in Manhattan in the past 30 days. And she got drunk on their wine for free. We caught up with her to find out more info on WineChap and, of course, to check on her liver.
How did you get hooked up with this gig and why are you qualified for this job? I had left my job in fine wine and was more or less en route to Argentina to live the good life, feast on beef, and continue to write my blog (about music, art, and wine) that was too esoteric to appeal to more than 25 people. I hear no one works down there. But my 5-year plan was interrupted when I was introduced to a British guy named Boo Murphy (WineChap’s founder) through a friend who recommended me as a wine writer with a penchant for spending all of my money on eating out. They read my blog and asked if I wanted to review 150 wine lists and oversee the NYC site. The rest is history. Why am I qualified? I have been drinking wine since my conception, which gives me more than 2 ½ decades of experience. What exactly is WineChap? It’s really just a half dozen people in three corners of the world who are in love with wine and had to figure out how to make a living drinking it. The constant nagging by friends for advice on what to drink at this or that restaurant gave the guys in London the idea to put all of their advice online. What it eventually came to be is a dining resource reviews of NYC’s top wine lists and breaks them down into categories with recommendations that allow you choose a wine or scope out the wine list’s strengths before you get to the restaurant. There’s also an iPhone app that funnels that content into a lottery that allows you to choose a wine by category, price, and style and shake your phone for a reco. It’s magic. WineChap.com caters to the three biggest wine markets—Hong Kong, London and NYC. What market do you think has the best wines? New York is the greatest city for wine in the world. The sheer density of wine available here is mind-blowing and the variety of atmospheres in which one can drink has sustained several different wine cultures that people can identify with. Do you try every single wine on the wine menu? If I did, we’d have one wine list review on the site and WineChap would be millions of dollars in debt. There’s 2,500 selections at Eleven Madison park alone. So no, I wish, but that would be impossible. What restaurants, in your opinion, have the most well-rounded wine lists? I think Gramercy Tavern is perhaps the most well-rounded list in the city. It caters to a variety of different palates and manages to span the globe without tiring the reader. Wine Director Juliette Pope is a veteran of the business and has an incredible talent for placing wines on the list that, regardless of style preference, are appealing. The beer program there is also pretty out of this world and should not be overlooked. What is the most expensive wines you’ve had to taste? In my life? Oh, geez. 1985 Sassicaia always sticks out in my mind largely because it’s ridiculously overpriced. That’s about $1,750 retail and anywhere from $2000-$3500 on a wine list. What is the nastiest wine you’ve had? I had a pinot noir from Australia at a tasting the other day and that went to the top of my shit list quickly. It was all kinds of wrong. The first problem being the fact that someone decided to plant pinot noir in South Australia in the first place. How is your liver? I’ve upped my dosage of Milk Thistle and things seem to going alright. Ask me in 20 years, though.
How can we have your job? Drink.more.wine. And start reading wine lists like a rabbi reads the Talmud.