Liquid Diet: Victoria James Finds Out How Much Rosé One Sommelier Can Handle
She literally wrote the book on rosé.
In our series, Liquid Diet, a professional drinker journals every sip of one beverage-packed week. Here, sommelier Victoria James, beverage director at Cote and Piora in NYC, amaro maker and author of the newly-released book Drink Pink: A Celebration of Rosé documents a week of book tour festivites with plenty of rosé (naturally!), fresh coconut water on a Hawaiian beach, authentic mai tai hunting some Domaine Tempier at Chez Panisse.
5:00 a.m. Deep in the West Coast leg of the Drink Pink book tour with my illustrator and fiancé, Lyle Railsback, an early wake-up call for a flight from Portland, Oregon to San Francisco. I chug a bottle of water on the way to the airport and a second right before security since I forgot I had another stashed.
6:30 a.m. We are upgraded to first class (awesome) and as I think about what I’m going to order to drink, the lady seated in front of me exclaims, “Is it too early for a Baileys and coffee!?” Sadly, I fall asleep almost instantly after only a sip of water.
10:00 a.m. Arrive at SFO. I wait for our luggage, which includes 40+ books and other things we felt we needed, while Lyle grabs us two espressos with cream. Airport coffee. A jarring reminder of our nomad state.
11:00 a.m. Palace Hotel. We unpack and I inhale an avocado toast (when in California…) with a glass of fresh grapefruit juice, followed by a few glasses of water.
1:30 p.m. Lunch at Chez Panisse. We start with a few carafes of sparkling water, and with the food, enjoy a glass of 2016 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé. Alice was one of the first pioneers to pour this by the glass in the ‘70s, a time when rosé was beyond unpopular. When I was interviewing her for the book she noted how impossible it is to separate the wine from the family. Today while we sip this quintessential pink wine alongside anchovies and greens with goat cheese we can’t help but think of the effervescent Lulu Peyraud and her children. With a dessert of fresh plums, they bring us a lemon verbena tisane. We drink this in between bites of plum, the juice quick to run down our hands. Lyle recites the only poem he has memorized, "This Is Just to Say" by William Carlos Williams, and perfect for the occasion. He was born on a California plum farm, after all (Lyle not William).
3:30 p.m. Our book tour event in Berkeley at Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant. We start with an espresso next door at Bartavelle which they serve with a side of sparkling water. At the event we are pouring current releases of J. Lassalle Chigny‑Les‑Roses Premier Cru Brut Rosé Champagne, Château de Trinquevedel Tavel Rosé, Clos Canarelli Corse Figari Rosé and Domaine de Terrebrune Bandol Rosé. I taste through each before we begin and steal sips throughout the event.
6:00 p.m. Winding down from the event, I have a glass of 2014 Domaine Comte Abbatucci Rouge Frais Impérial that our friend, Richard Anderson, ordered since he was sick of drinking rosé. Also, it’s delicious.
7:00 p.m. Exhausted from a week of traveling (Orcas Island->Seattle->Portland->Berkeley) we decide to spend the night in. At the Palace Hotel we figure they must have a strong room service game. We polish off a bottle of 2014 Dauvissat-Camus La Forest Premier Cru Chablis with turkey club sandwiches.
6:00 a.m. Large quantities of water upon waking, some hotel lobby coffee with cream.
7:30 a.m. Meet up with Lyle’s brother, Eric Railsback, his girlfriend Kelly and Mike Laszlo of Laszlo Law fame for a road trip down to Santa Maria. Eric drives the ragtag group as we snack on turkey jerky and drink bottles of water. We stop for coffee in Gilroy, the “Garlic Capital of the World,” and as soon as we leave the car I see why, the aroma hitting us right away. Even the cream in the cappuccino tastes thick with allium. We wonder why our drink tastes weak and it isn’t until we are back on the road that we realize they forgot to put a shot of espresso in the cappuccino. The warm milk works like a charm, I sleep until we arrive in Santa Maria.
12:00 p.m. At the Drink Pink party at Presqu'ile winery, I taste through the wines, all current releases of Railsback Frères Les Rasacasses Rosé, Presqu'ile Rosé of Pinot Noir and Château de Trinquevedel Tavel Rosé before setting up shop signing books. I drink a few bottles of water while unknowingly picking up a wicked sunburn.
3:00 p.m. We all unwind after the event with a bottle of 2012 Michel Brégeon Muscadet Sèvre et Maine Clisson with ham and butter sandwiches. Lyle and I inhale a few glasses of water and an espresso before branching off and driving down to Los Angeles.
8:30 p.m. After a few bottles of water on the traffic-ridden drive to L.A., we finally get to our hotel. We catch a quick dinner of enchiladas with mole, guacamole and escabeche in Santa Monica. I wash this down with a Negra Modelo and a few orders of Del Maguey mezcal.
8:30 a.m. Eggs with toast, lots of water and some seriously upsetting hotel coffee.
10:00 a.m. We visit Lyle’s grandmother, Roxie, who is now 92 and sip on little bottles of water while playing Tri-Ominos. She crushes us in every game.
1:30 p.m. We meet back up with Eric, Kelly and also Jared Heber who runs Grandes Places Sélections in California, for lunch at Kali. They order a bottle of 2014 Rudi Pichler Federspiel Riesling and I have a few sips. If I have more than a glass of wine during the day my body promptly begins to curl up, ready for a nap. Instead, I sip on kombucha they make in-house from green tea alongside sparkling water.
3:30 p.m. I drive back to Santa Monica and stop for a mid-afternoon matcha, which is clumpy but still delicious.
5:00 p.m. I meet up with my aunt and uncle for a quick drink before our book tour event at Esters. I down an iced coffee with cream.
6:00-9:00 p.m. At the event, with Lyle and Eric, we pour current releases of Railsback Frères rouge and rosé with Lieu Dit Sauvignon Blanc. Towards the end of the book signing we pop a magnum of Georges Laval Cumières Brut Nature Premier Cru Rosé Champagne.
10:00 p.m. Dinner next door at Cassia. I start with a negroni and a few glasses of sparkling water. With the food we keep it simple with Tiger Singaporean lagers. The dinner reminds me a bit of Cote, where I am the beverage director in New York, and I suddenly miss home and working the floor.
5:30 a.m. A few bottles of water to wake up before we jump on a flight to Hawaii.
2:00 p.m. After two flights, we are finally in Poipu on the island of Kauai. I have a few iced teas with a plate lunch of poke, avocado, pickled ginger and rice. Due to my severe inability to day drink, I have only a sip of Lyle’s inaugural Hawaiian mai tai, which we agree is sadly disappointing.
3:00-7:00 p.m. My first attempt at snorkeling results in mostly gulping ocean water. After finally seeing a humuhumunukunukuapua'a (state fish of Hawaii and adorable) as well as some urchin, I retire to the beach and hydrate with water.
7:30 p.m. Dinner at Merriman's Fish House by our hotel. We order a 2011 Prager Steinriegl Riesling and feast on more poke and salad. I also drink an impressive amount of water in one sitting; eventually the server gives up trying to fill my glass.
7:00 a.m. Wake up, a few glasses of water while I do computer work.
10:00 a.m. We head to a local spot for some coffee and to stock up on provisions for our day of hiking. Finally, coffee not from an airport or hotel and it is delicious.
11:00 a.m. We hike Nounou Mountain, also known as Sleeping Giant, which someone told us was easy and it definitely isn’t. A near vertical climb, halfway through we wish we had brought more water. At the summit, we drink warm water with cold ham and mustard sandwiches and it seems like the best thing I have ever eaten.
2:00 p.m. After the hike, we stop at a market and buy so much water the cashier thinks we are insane. We then lay at a beach nearby and imbibe sparkling water and Oi Ocha green tea.
3:45 p.m. Driving to the North Shore, I spot a truck on the side of the road with a sign that reads “COCONUTS.” Stop! We pull over and interrupt a gentleman’s drumming by the sea so he can crack open a coconut for us. He looks like he has never worn a shirt in his life and silently, he wields his knife around the top of the coconut shell, cracking a small hole to fit a straw. We then let him get back to his drumming, and we hang out by a pack of wild chickens (they are everywhere) and sip coconut water.
5:30 p.m. After exploring the Nāpali Coast (Northwest Kauai and possibly the most beautiful place in the world) and contemplating why we live in New York, we have dinner at Bar Acuda. I have a sip of Lyle's mai tai, which is better than the last few he has rather unsuccessfully ordered elsewhere, and start with a glass of 2014 Clos Cibonne Tradition Côtes de Provence Rosé. With roasted lamb we drink a bottle of 2014 Alain Graillot Crozes Hermitage slightly chilled. Oh, and more water.
6:00 a.m. Breakfast is a sugarloaf pineapple we picked up yesterday at a farm stand with coffee, in bed while doing emails and computer work.
8:00-10:00 a.m. We signed up for a yoga class on the beach and drink a few bottles of water throughout.
12:00 p.m. A quick flight to Honolulu. They hand out juice cups on the plane but mine smells suspicious so I stick with water.
3:00 p.m. We arrive at the Royal Hawaiian Resort in Waikiki where we will be hosting our final book tour events and staying for the next few days. In an ironic twist, the entire hotel is rosé-colored. For lunch, I inhale a lobster roll with iced tea and have a few sips of Lyle’s white rum and tonic.
5:30 p.m. We host a Drink Pink tasting and book signing for guests and residents of the hotel. I taste through the lineup of current releases of Château Thivin Beaujolais-Villages Rosé, Régis Bouvier Marsannay Rosé and Les Pallières Gigondas Rosé Au Petit Bonheur.
7:00 p.m. Drink Pink dinner at Azure: It’s a ticketed event and a great mix of industry, friends and consumers. We start with NV Veuve Fourny & Fils Premier Cru Brut Rosé while we wait for everyone to arrive. Maybe it’s just the magical setting but everyone seems extraordinarily cheerful and kind. The Champagne goes down too easily. With dinner, the beverage director, Micah Suderman, paired a rosé with each course and they’re all pretty stellar. They're the wines from the earlier tasting plus NV Patrick Bottex La Cueille Bugey-Cerdon with dessert. Also, a few bottles of 2014 Domaine Faury Côte-Rôtie squeezed in with the entrees. I heard there was talk of Coche later but completely exhausted, excused myself for an early bedtime.
8:00 a.m. Water and catching up on emails and work in bed.
10:00 a.m. An espresso and yogurt at the hotel.
1:00 p.m. We meet up with our friend Rick Lilley who takes us to a local food market for some of the best poke I’ve ever had, alongside pickled carrots, onions and seaweed. I drink another Oi Ocha green tea and grab a few bottles of water. It’s midday and we decide that’s as good a time as any for hiking. We make the sweaty climb to the top of Diamond Head, a volcanic cone nearby, and after losing probably ten pounds in water weight, I hydrate with a few bottles of water.
4:00 p.m. I grab a fresh-squeezed guava juice at the hotel to try and get my blood sugar stable. More water over some emails and computer work before dinner.
6:30 p.m. We stop by 12th Avenue Grill for a snack and apéritif. They make a killer negroni with Bèrto vermouth, Koval gin and Mezzodì. Lyle orders another Rhum J.M and tonic which I sip on as they bring out some ice-cold Chablis and oysters. Other bites of octopus and bone marrow accompany 2015 Domaine Maestracci E Prove Corse Calvi Rosé, 2014 Domaine Giacometti Patrimonio Cru des Agriate Rouge and 2014 Luigi Ferrando Canavese Rosso.
8:30 p.m. Lyle and I head across town for dinner at the Halekulani, which is on the beach and includes hula dancing, so I am all in. We have a bottle of 2015 Domaine Diochon Moulin-à-Vent, and then with our cheeseburgers order a bottle of 2013 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rouge. The wine director, Kevin Toyama, is incredibly nice and invites us to the upstairs bar for Coche-Dury Puligny-Montrachet Les Enseignères, but again, I am super lame and unable to even finish the Tempier. I forgo Coche for an early bedtime, a luxury I am never able to afford in New York.