Monday, January 13, 2020

A Case of Questions with Susan Kostrzewa, Editor-in-Chief, Wine Enthusiast

As I scour the Internet's endless vats of information, I often come across personalities that have a deep interest in The Rock's wine. It may be a chef with Cypriot roots working abroad or a blogger who's visited Cyprus to write about its indigenous varieties. Regardless of who it is, it's always exciting to come across this treasure trove of names and discover their different opinions on Cyprus wine.

I first came across Susan Kostrzewa's brilliant coverage of Greek wine a few years ago to only later find out she also has a soft spot for The Rock, reviewing Cypriot wines for Wine Enthusiast Magazine, one of the world's leading sources for wine accessories, storage, information, education, events and travel. Susan has been at Wine Enthusiast for the past 14 years, writing and editing wine, food and travel articles, while also serving as the magazine's Editor-in-Chief and overseeing its tasting programs.

Below are her thoughts on Cypriot wine and her career in the wonderful world of wine.

Why wine? 

Wine is connected to fine living, culture, travel, enjoyment, community, celebration, food. All of the great things in life. 

First wine that really captured your attention? How old were you? 

My early appreciation of wine happened when I was living in California. The first wine that really impressed me was a Rochiolo Russian River Valley Pinot Noir from Sonoma. 

All-time favorite bottle of wine? 

That’s a tough one to answer because there are so many delicious wines I have had the privilege to taste. But I think some of my favorite wine moments are connected to memorable travel experiences. Drinking Ken Forrester Chenin Blanc (South Africa) from the back of a safari Jeep with giraffes walking by in the Singita preserve is an example of this…I’ll always remember that bottle and that moment. And of course drinking Commandaria, the oldest named wine in the world, after visiting Petra Tou Romiou was also a once-in-a-lifetime thrill. 

Favorite wine-producing region? Why? 

Another tough question but in all honesty I think Cyprus and Greece are both incredible because of the history of their varieties and the incredibly rich wine cultures and lifestyle they offer. There are not many places in the world that can boast thousands of years of winemaking history and enjoyment. I think this is fascinating to most global wine drinkers and they are still learning about the incredible wines and experiences to be had in these places.

Your favorite food-and-wine pairing? 

I love oysters and Chablis…fresh, clean, always delicious! 

What is Cyprus missing when it comes to wine? 

I would not say they are missing the product…just the exposure. It would be great to see more promotion of the Cypriot wine industry in America via more events and tastings. Cyprus has an incredible wine culture, history, is a beautiful tourism destination…it has all of the elements needed to attract wine lovers. More people need to know about it. 

What do you foresee for Cyprus’s wine industry? 

I think now is the time for regions like Cyprus to tell their story in international markets and definitely to promote the many millennia of wine history found there. American consumers are increasingly adventurous and looking for affordable but delicious new products with an interesting story. Cypriot wines offer this. Producers like Tsiakkas are working hard in new markets and creating world-class products, which helps the entire category. I think if that continues the category will grow in wine-focused markets like New York. It’s also important that sommeliers know about the wines, because when they taste them, they usually fall in love with them and their story. 

What do you enjoy most about your work in the food & wine world? 

Learning something new every day and working with people from so many different cultures. 

What is your “Five Year Plan” for your career in the wine industry? 

Perhaps to eventually travel more and educate people around the world about wine. 

Who is your favorite wine personality? Why? 

Laura Catena, the owner of Bodega Catana Zapata, is an inspiration and a force to be reckoned with. I have great respect for her and her tireless work growing awareness of Argentina. She’s also an emergency room doctor on top of that so she’s a true hero. 

Any embarrassing episodes involving spilled wine, corkscrews, sommeliers or drunken behavior? 

I think like most wine professionals there was a time when I was not very skilled at using a spit bucket at public tastings. I probably missed a few times but that was years ago! I’m a pro now! 

Of course, your all-time favorite island wine? 

A nice, crisp Xynisteri is a great island wine! But I’m pretty partial to Cristal Champagne, and the winemaker at Louis Roederer, Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon, is a true artist. I could happily drink that every day. 😊

You can reach Susan Kostrzewa via email, Instagram and Twitter.