Jessica Norris is the wine director of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House in New York, and one of the leading women in wine. Starting as a server to support her Master’s Degree in Opera Performance, Jessica quickly realized her fondness for the world of wine.
“I had a few “ah-ha” moments during my time as a server, but in all honesty, the switch from studying Opera to wine happened gradually because the more I learned about wine, the more I craved further knowledge,” said Jessica. “Wine challenged me on all levels; Opera didn’t hold a candle to that sort of pursuit.”
Her thirst for knowledge ignited an intense passion and revealed a natural talent for the trade. Jessica quickly rose through the ranks and now curates a wine list with upwards of 2,000 bottles. However, Jessica’s impact on the wine industry extends well beyond the cellar walls in New York.
Jessica is committed to sharing her love of wine and teaches weekly wine courses. Additionally, in 2015, she prepared 50 members of her staff to sit for the first of several exams on the long path to becoming a sommelier.
What is a sommelier? In French, it means, “wine steward,” but in life, it means “royalty.” A sommelier is a highly trained, well-versed wine professional. From pinpointing a specific region in a country from which the grapes are grown to knowing how to properly pair wine with food, sommeliers specialize in every aspect of wine and wine service.
Becoming a Master Sommelier is hailed as one of the most difficult accomplishments one can achieve. According to Sommeliers Australia, it is on par with attempting to become an executive chef. The process requires countless hours of training, studying, memorizing note cards, more studying and, of course, tasting wine! One must surpass simply memorizing facts but know them with every fiber of their being. They, like Jessica, live and breathe wine.
As for those of us who lack the depth of a trained sommelier and simply enjoy a glass with dinner, Jessica has a deep appreciation for that side of wine, too.
“Wine intrigues me as it is all-encompassing,” she said. “Climate, soil, grape variety, tradition, style, winemaker, sense of place… Any one of those factors can change what ends up in a bottle and whether or not you like it. Wine speaks to academics, artists, power players & everyday-Joes alike, and at the end of the day, wine has something for everyone.”
After being named one of Wine Enthusiast’s 2015 Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers in America, we’re excited to see what 2016 has in store for Jessica. We’re thrilled to have her on board and we can’t wait to see how she further guides and shapes wine as a whole for us at Del Frisco’s.