Sheri Morano, MW

Sheri began her formal wine education at the International Wine Center in New York City, where she later became an instructor. She completed the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) Intermediate Certificate in 1998 and the WSET Advanced Certificate a year later. In 2000, she became one of the youngest Americans to complete the WSET Diploma (DWS) and the following year passed the Certified Wine Educator (CWE) exam. In 2003, Sheri earned the esteemed title Master of Wine (MW) and became the youngest American woman to achieve the designation.

In addition to her role with Chai Consulting, which specializes in wine cellar planning and inventory management as well as fine & rare wine authentication, Sheri is a partner in Wine Ring, a consumer-focused wine technology platform, and a consultant for Strategic Insights, a marketing research firm. In 2012, she founded the Triangle Wine School to offer WSET certifications to wine lovers and trade professionals in North Carolina.

In addition to her consulting work, Sheri writes for several publications and serves as a judge at a variety of wine competitions around the world. Sheri has been featured in a number of magazines and on television and radio shows around the country.

Sheri likes to joke that she is a jack-of-all-trades, Master of Wine.

Q&A with Sheri Morano

Describe the “aha” moment when you first fell in love with wine.

I was 17 years old and on a trip to Italy with our High School Latin class for Spring Break. Our teacher had told our parents that, if they gave their permission, we could have wine with our dinner there. My parents had no objection – in fact, I think they were in favor of it! While it was just inexpensive table wine, it made an impression. I remember that it was different depending on where we were in Italy and, most importantly, I remember how it changed dinner. I will never forget the image of all of us around the table that summer, eating dinner and sharing wine.

Do you have a philosophy about wine that you share with others?

I think ultimately what is most important is that you understand your own personal preferences in wine. Just because someone else likes a wine or gives it a high score doesn’t mean it will be something you like. At the same time, I think you need to explore wine to discover what’s out there.

How has the perspective of time changed your approach to wine?

If anything, time has made me appreciate wine more. Wine to me is the most interdisciplinary subject out there – it encompasses a little bit of everything. What I love most is that it is also constantly changing and evolving – there is also always something new to discover and learn about.

Who inspires you personally — in wine or any endeavor?

The people I work with in the industry. – from my fellow Masters of Wine to the people I taste with at the International Wine Challenge to the winemakers I meet on my travels to my co-workers at Wine Ring – these are all people who deeply care about wine and know a ton about it. I am constantly learning from them and am challenged to be a better taster because of it.

What is the most overrated trend in wine today?

Recently, Master of Wine students were confronted with the exam question: Which is more important in wine: tradition or innovation? It’s an interesting question as I think the two are intimately connected. Trends, whether they are overrated or not, are important as they push the industry forward. Of course, many innovations are a reaction to tradition. You almost can’t separate the two.

Fro example, a lot of people think that the Natural Wine is overrated. But in my opinion, it’s a sign of simultaneously looking back at what used to be done and looking forward to see what can be done today. I think it’s provoked a fascinating discussion within the industry that in the long run is healthy.

What about the wine industry excites you most?

I’m excited by the passion I see for wine all across the US. The number of wineries in states outside of California has exploded in the last few years and there are some really exciting regions that we’re going to be hearing more and more about. Places like Idaho, Virginia and New Jersey. The people making wines there are extremely committed to what they’re doing and it shows.

If you weren’t a Master of Wine what would you be doing?

Being a Professor of Tudor History. I was a double major in Medieval and Renaissance Studies and Classical Studies with a minor in Art History in college. The plan was always to go to grad school after Duke, but I decided to take a break. I started working in Marketing Research and taking evening classes in wine. One certification led to another (and another) and the rest is history.

What led you to recommend Nomacorc PlantCorcs?

I first got involved with Nomacorc about 8 or 9 years ago after I moved to North Carolina. I was so impressed by all of the research that they were doing on closures and oxygen management. I felt like the questions they were asking created a unique dialog in the industry – something that has continued to this day. I think it’s fantastic that winemakers now have the ability to choose the right closure for their wine rather than the one-size-fits-all scenario in the past. PlantCorcs are sustainable and consistent and that benefits both the winemaker and the consumer.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

An empty email inbox.

What, if anything, do you leave to chance in the cellar or in life?

For someone who considers herself a bit of a control freak, there’s actually a lot I leave a lot to chance. I like each day to be different – which is one reason why working in wine is never boring. But I love to leave things to chance, especially when I am traveling. I’ve found having less of a schedule leaves you open to experiencing the next adventure. As long as I have my phone in my hand, I’m good to go.