Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Wine Tasting For a Living

BevMo evaluator Wilfred Wong talks wine. Wilfred Wong got his start as a wine connoisseur when working for his family’s Ashbury Market in the early 1970s

Wilfred Wong got his start as a wine connoisseur when working for his family’s Ashbury Market in the early 1970s. He was delivering groceries across town in San Francisco when he was invited to taste a 1968 BV Burgundy and a 1971 German Riesling, and decided he needed to know more. Since 1995, he has worked for East Bay–originated BevMo, first as a buyer and now as an evaluator of roughly 8,000 wines each year.

Q: Is there a difference between tasting wine and drinking wine, or should all of us who like to drink wine try to get a job like yours?

A: There’s definitely a difference between tasting and drinking. If I’m doing what I consider an analytical tasting, I spit out the wine. I spit out some of the most expensive wines in the world.

Q: Does that ever just about break your heart?

A: When I do supercool tastings, I’ll bring in some food, and we’ll do the analytical tasting first, and then actually drink the wine.

Q: Is there an East Bay wine that you like a lot?

A: I like one of the Zinfandels at Viano Vineyards in Martinez. It’s the Sand Rock Hill Zinfandel.

Q: Is it ever problematic to be a taster working for a big liquor store?

A: Yes, it’s always problematic, but I just do my due diligence and report accurately. If I kill a wine, too bad. If a buyer bought a lot of wine and made a hard commitment before passing it to me, then too bad.

Q: When you’re sharing wine with friends, not just tasting but drinking wine, has anyone ever told you that you look like the Dalai Lama?

A: It has come up. It’s a great compliment to be thought of in that class.


Edit ModuleShow Tags

Wine Stars

What do guitar icon Carlos Santana, racing star Jeff Gordon, and three-time Super Bowl MVP Joe Montana have in common? These famous people—along with more and more celebrities—are entering into the wonderful world of wine.

Where to Taste in Wine Country

With an explosion of new—and newly renovated—wineries and tasting rooms, Wine Country offers even more must-see destinations.

Three to Watch

Meet three re-careering vintners who are making wines you need to be drinking.

Drink Up

In Wine Country, imbibing isn’t just about wine.

Summer Sips: Rose Tasting

Hit these five tasting rooms for refreshing rosés.

Wine Tasting by Jeep

Hop in a Jeep for a carefree tasting excursion.

Downtown Tasting

Six spots to swirl and sip—with an urban twist.

Final Twist: Robert Mondavi Winery

Robert Mondavi Winery's barrel aging room.

Galas and Gatherings

Guests celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Napa Valley Wine Library Association’s Annual Tasting with more than 200 wines.

Going with the Flow

Two friends keg wine for the masses at their new Napa warehouse.

25 Years of Stags Leap

One of Napa Valley’s most renowned subregions has lots to celebrate.

Cliff Lede's 100-point Cabernet Sauvignon: Poetry

Cliff Lede Vineyards crafts perfect-scoring wine.