Sommelier Abby Cifarelli Brings Her Passion Home
BY GEORGETTA L. MORQUE
A newly crowned sommelier is primed to bring a personalized at-home wine tasting to your next gathering. Abby Cifarelli, a 2010 Rye High School graduate, is a certified sommelier with a new business, Sommnights with Abby.
Excited to share her passion for wine with others, Cifarelli will design a tasting based on the type of event and a customer’s interests. Along with the wine, she brings glassware, tasting cards, pencils, and a charcuterie board with the best pairings.
At a recent a tasting for a group of young women, she brought four Italian wines: a white from Gavi in northern Italy, which she compared with a white from Campania in southern Italy. She then compared a red from Campania with one from Sicily. According to the host, “Abby created a tasting menu of wines and charcuterie that rounded out the night in a perfect way. She was confident in her presentation and knowledgeable, not just about the wines, and gave us tips and tricks we can use when tasting and buying wines in the future.”
A graduate of St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, where she majored in history and minored in marketing, Cifarelli entered the world of wines by happenstance — in Rye. During house renovations, her family moved temporarily to Westchester Country Club where Abby spent time at the club’s restaurants, befriending the sommeliers, and tasting wines. She enjoyed learning about the different grapes, their history and characteristics. When one of the sommeliers said to her, “You might have a knack for this,” she decided to delve deeper.
She enrolled in wine courses at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in lower Manhattan, where she learned about wine tastings, winemaking, laws, labeling, and more, and tasted wines from around the globe. She passed the exam to become a Certified Level 1 Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers, US and earned a Premier Cru Wine Certification from ICE, where she continues to take classes.
About her wine journey, Cifarelli said, “It’s been fun and fascinating.” She held her first tasting at her family’s newly renovated home.
I love trying new and different wines,” said Cifarelli, who has become part of city wine circles, including one where she met the third-generation owner of Podere La Pace vineyard in Tuscany. She continues to take classes at ICE; a recent one involved tasting eight different red wines and accompanying cheese pairings.
Cifarelli’s wine ventures take place at night and on weekends. By day, she works in digital merchandising at Macy’s in Manhattan. One of the perks of being an employee is marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Last year, she dressed as a baby clown. “It was a lot of fun, but cold,” Cifarelli said.
To schedule a tasting, visit sommnightswithabby.com, which provides a handy calendar and booking form.