By Rick Riozza

Women in the workplace—it’s a wonderful world!! 

As most of you readers have gleaned from my recent columns, I am happily entrenched in my new wine steward position at the Total Wine & More store in Palm Desert.  It’s certainly got me off the couch and computer, as I’m working again assisting our valley’s vino-thirsty public in their sacred selection of wines.  But I’m not alone, and I work with a great professional wine team.

And to my further delight, our total team at the store is well-balanced with wonderful women who bring a pleasing charm to the workplace.  Since I’ve kept this editorial as a rather personal communication vehicle, I’d love to share with you a sample day in the life at the shop with some of the girls and their recommendations for holiday quaffing.

I’m sure you realize we’ve been busy this holiday and some of the staff was a bit occupied in their duties to comment for this column; we’ll catch up with them another time in the future.

May I now introduce you to our charming assistant manager, Maria.  She’s been with the store since its opening in 2013, indeed, I covered that event for these pages back then.  Maria rocks with her wine intelligence; and, a big congrats to her for passing with flying vino colors her sommelier certification exams. 

I love tasting and comparing wines with her, and I often take the time to hear her speak to our customers about the qualities of our selections.  I can envision her becoming a Master of Wine—of which only seven women earned this esteemed title in the U.S. last year! 

Her festive bubbly pick for the season is the Albrecht Crémant D’Alsace Brut Rosé , $23.  Maria says, “a fabulous dry rosé sparkler with richness and delicious dense flavors such as fresh strawberries and red fruits.  Perfect for matching with all of the holiday dishes.”

The very engaging Jasmine has just come on board at the shop, like me, so we are the two new wine team kids on the block.  I may have met her previously at the now closed Tulip Hill Winery Tasting Room there at The River in Rancho Mirage, we she was part of the staff.  She’s my new buddy at the wine bar and we too, enjoy discussing all of the wines we feature and pour.

Come visit her and receive some absolutely extensive wine advice and preferences.  So for this writing, Jasmine is suggesting we enjoy one of her favorite spirit picks: Tanqueray No. Ten Gin. $28, “This puts me in a sort of ‘sophisticated calm’ as I relax during my down-time.” 

She and I are both big gin fans and I heartily agree with this selection.  “Softly perfumed with citrus zest and coriander, a magnificent burst of juniper comes quick to settle the score with any other competing gins—or something like that!”  An example, if you will, of our “serious” beverage banter. 

So besides the wine team, the staff “merchandizers” or “merches” seem to be the life’s blood of the vast operation.  Dealing with hundreds of cases piled high and stored away and thousands of bottles all around, this group can get to any wine request in seconds flat!  It’s still fascinating to me to watch all of the endearing energetic girls multi-task their way around this Total wine town.

Representing the merch ladies for comment are Monique, Rydelle, and Denise:  “Mo” is the valley’s Veil Vodka girl.  She loves the stuff that’s been distilled five times which can match the flavor profile of the higher priced national brands.  “Veil offers an exciting array of flavored vodka that is tasty and true to their fruit and savory essences. I threw a party using Veil’s Caramel vodka and the party-goers are still licking their lips!”

She also recommends the Cazul 100 Tequila, $30, “that has a nice lime-bite finish—great for shooting.”  Here’s hoping she invites me to her next bash!

Rydelle with her appealing sass and attitude also chimes in with the Veil, “Hey—I simply put a straw in the Peppermint-flavored one and enjoy away; no Christmas candy cane comes close.”  She also seems to have a sweet tooth hiding somewhere as she pulls out a six-pack of Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown Nectar, $9.99, beer aged in Spiced Rum barrels. “It’s like drinking creamy brown sugar”—pancakes or waffles anyone?

Denise is the go-to girl I’ve known while shopping here these past three years, and, she’s a loyal CV Weekly reader.  She can recommend wine and spirits with the best of us.  Denise has a great Champagne pick with the De Margerie Grand Cru Brut, $39.  It’s the Champagne deal of the season, matching up to other famous brands at half their price! 

Denise is doing Scotch Whisky too. Check out her Grangestone 12Yr. Single Malt, $28. “It’s opened up a new world of whisky for me at an amazing price.”  By the way—is that a Scottish brogue I hear her speaking with?

Representing the up-front register women is the delightful Kaylyn who craves the juicy and tasty Mad Duck Sauv blanc, and just loves the Cabs & red blends from CMS/Hedges Washington State. Cheers to that!  Thanks girls—see you at the shop.

!!New Year’s Eve Dinner & Dance Celebration Alert!!  Speaking about women in wine: Everyone in town knows the quality charity work Kathleen Von Dehn has done providing for the needy and homeless.  Please continue to support her efforts and consider attending the New Year’s Gala. Individual Tickets $165 per person Saturday December 31, 2016 6:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.  Renaissance Indian Wells Resort & Spa Crystal Ballroom 44-400 Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells, CA  To Reserve Please Call Winewomen PSP at 760.880.5010.