What Happens When a Master Sommelier Gets Pregnant
Everyone knows that pregnant women develop strange cravings as well as sudden, specific aversions. They want pickles and peanut butter, but don’t you dare get that ham sandwich near them. The results are even more extreme when you’re dealing with someone who has a highly developed palate like master sommelier Lindsey Geddes of Charlie Palmer’s Las Vegas Aureole. When Geddes became pregnant, she started noticing some amazing wine-centric side effects. [Ed Note: The role of a sommelier involves sniffing and tasting very small amounts of wine; this post does not promote boozing during pregnancy.]
1. An enhanced sense of smell. “I really started to notice things changing about three months into my pregnancy during an intro exam I was teaching—that’s when the smell kicked in,” Geddes says. “I could smell Rioja all over the room. It’s a very confusing wine, but it jumped out of the glass at me. I’ll never miss it in a blind tasting ever again.” Later, at a Chardonnay seminar, she was able to pick out the specific soil types the grapes were grown in. “All of those secondary aromas suddenly jumped out at me,” she says. “Volcanic soil smells fennelly, marley soil smells floral, slate-heavy soil smells like petrol.”
2. A corked-wine radar. Geddes's new and improved sense of smell has not only given her a leg up in blind tastings but also in the restaurant where she has become the resident corked-wine detector. “When there’s a corked wine on the floor, I can smell it,” she says. “If it’s corked even slightly, it smells flat-out corked to me.”
3. A love of sherry. Before she was pregnant, Geddes never touched sherry, eschewing it for brightly acidic white wines or sparklings. Now, she dreams of richly oxidized sherry. “I think it has to do with the fact that when you’re pregnant, your body is more acidic,” she says. “Anything acidic will give you heartburn. But something that’s oxidized is relaxing.” Of course, Geddes isn’t downing lots of sherry, but when she does allow herself a glass, more often than not it contains a bit of amontillado—preferably paired with a steak.
4. An extreme aversion to oak. “Before I was pregnant, picking up American oak wasn’t easy for me. Now it jumps out at me, and I can’t handle it,” Geddes says. “It’s so offensive to me that it hurts my head. It’s too much, too overwhelming.”