Celebrating Women In Wine: Jaime Bicknell


Celebrating Women In Wine: Jaime Bicknell

Bar None

with Debbian Spence-Minott

Thursday, November 21, 2019

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We continue with our celebration of Women in Wine this week with Jaime Bicknell, wine connoisseur and marketing manager, wines and spirits, Select Brands Limited. I am amazed at the wealth of knowledge and talent that resides in Jamaica. Each wine expert has a different but also very familiar story, a combination that makes for an interesting read. The Wine Chick Jaime Bicknell takes us on her wine journey.

The First Steps

Thursday Food (TF): Of all the beverages you could choose, why wine?

Jaime Bicknell (JB): Honestly, my reason is Debra Taylor. I have always consumed wines but had it not been for Debra, the educational aspect would not have been considered. After completing my Bachelor of Science in Accounting at the American University in Washington, DC, I decided to return home to take another accounting exam and also find a job in the accounting field. As luck would have it, there was an administrative/accounting opportunity at Select Brands, and I decided to accept the offer. At that time, the company had a much smaller operation. When I started some five years ago, I was a photocopier, runner, and driver. As time passed, I began to go on the road a lot with Debra for her many training engagements. I sat through no less than 100 of her sessions. As a result, I became curious about wines and I really wanted to learn more. Seven months later, I was promoted to retail wines and assistant brand manager for Pernod Ricard and Wines. As wines were my new focus, I wanted to learn more. The following year, the Wines and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) programme began in Jamaica — I successfully completed Levels 1 and 2. I decided again that I wanted to learn more and later pursued my Level 3 designation. Now, I have moved on to Level 4.

TF: What is a WSET Level 4 designation?

JB: A Level 4 WSET diploma is the highest level of the WSET wine programme. This designation is equivalent to getting a master's degree. I wish to note that a Master of Wine is not the same — a Master of Wine is equal to a PhD. Internationally, having the WSET Level 4 diploma, a person is considered an influencer in the world of wines.

TF: After completing the WSET Level 4, what's next?

JB: I really have no plans. I genuinely like to learn about wines — but I have no plans to do anything once the designation is conferred. Right now, I am just happy with the knowledge I have attained.

TF: What was wine like for you five years ago?

JB: I was always into foods. I travelled to eat. Wine has always been my drink of choice. The most inexpensive wines were what I purchased. Maybe this influence was as a result of attending boarding school in England. Everyone drank wine! In boarding school, I had a small budget. On Saturday nights we were allowed to drink beer, cider and wine. At that time, I was just enjoying wines without any thoughts about varietals or quality. Today, I am beyond the label and now I have opinions on which wines to consume.

TF: What's your favourite wine?

JB: I have more of a 'flavour of the month' kind of vibe. However, consistently, I lean towards Syrah/Shiraz from different regions and countries. I have been on the Syrah/Shiraz train for the past year as I love bold red wines.

TF: Can you share with us something you know about wines that many of us don't know?

JB: Having the knowledge of the grapes that come from a particular country makes a great difference. It's like a wine nerd kind of thing. I can tell you about wine geography. As an example, my parents travel everywhere. So, when they are overseas and they go to dinner, they would send me a picture of the wine list and ask for my recommendations about what to drink.

TF: Christmas will soon be here. What's on your wine agenda?

JB: Christmas begins for me as at December 1! Christmas is that time of year I reward myself and drink like royalty! Not like The Queen royalty but like a newbie, so I will purchase a case of Champagne and my all-time favourite Montes Folly Syrah. I am able to entertain, have nice food and great weather. Every night is really a celebration; Christmas presents that time of festivity.

TF: What Champagne, and why?

JB: I have a special connection with Perrier-Jout Champagne. Personally, I find that Perrier-Jout is more intimate than other champagne brands. I discovered Perrier-Jout through my friend Lauren Dear. The Belle Epoque range is a must-have!

TF: Any new trends for 2020?

JB: Sparkling wines are trending. In the past, you only purchased sparkling wines for an occasion. Today, no occasion necessary. Just have it!

TF: Any final recommendations for our readers?

JB: Try something new! Do not drink the same wines. Try having a grape varietal/wine you have never had before. Be different and keep an open mind!

Have you seen your favourite wine personality yet? Keep reading as we share with you more wine insights from the Rock's wine experts.

Readers' Feedback:

Imagine if we embraced life's moments big and small, without reservation. Together, we might fill the world with contagious joy. Please share with meyour wines, spirits and cocktail experiences or comments on the above article at debbiansm@gmail.com, or follow me on IG @debbiansm #barnoneja.

Debbian Spence-Minott

An Alumna of the US Sommelier Association

CEO of the Academy of Bartending, Spirits & Wines

President, Jamaica Union of Bartenders and Mixologists (JUBAM) Limited

Marketing Studies Lecturer — The University of Technology Jamaica

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