DecantingNadine Nettmann is a certified sommelier living in California—plenty close to where great wine comes from. Her debut novel DECANTING A MURDER, has just been released from Midnight Ink and Nadine takes some time to talk with Crimespree Magazine about wine, books and mysteries.


Erica Ruth Neubauer: How did you become so interested in wine?
Nadine Nettmann: Although I had enjoyed wine for years, my fascination began while attending a wine and food festival in 2010. I stood up to switch seats so a couple could sit together and Master Sommelier Fred Dame took my hand, in what I thought was helping me move to the next seat. Instead he led me to the front of the room and sat me on the panel next to Master Sommeliers and wine makers. I was terrified but the experience sparked a desire to learn as much as I could about wine and the story behind each bottle.

ERN: You’re a certified sommelier yourself. Can you talk about that process? What did it look like for you?
NN: Shortly after the wine panel in 2010, I started pursuing my certification. I made nearly 2,000 flashcards and went through them constantly, using every spare moment of time to study. It was the hardest I had ever studied in my life. I was also fortunate to join an excellent blind tasting group. We met every week and brought bottles hidden in paper bags so we could deductively taste the wine. In August 2011, I became a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers.

ERN: Talk to me about wine. What are your favorites?
NN: This is an excellent question but also a tough one as I tend to change which wines are my favorite depending on the time of year. But for my standard favorites, I’m always a fan of a good Riesling, Pinot Grigio, and Champagne or sparkling wine. Bubbles just make everything more fun. For reds, I enjoy a nice Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and when I have the opportunity, Châteauneuf-du-Pape. But really when it comes down to it, I just love a good bottle of wine.

ERN: Your protagonist Katie looks at other people as types of wine. Do you find yourself doing that in real life?
NN: It’s funny because I’ve had a few friends ask me which wines I see them as after reading the book. While I gave Katie that attribute, it’s not something I do myself. But in the book, I do talk about every bottle of wine having a story, just like people. And I apply that to real life. Every one of us has a story and you understand people so much more when you remember this, even in brief interactions with strangers.

ERN: When did you know you wanted to write a mystery?
NN: I’ve loved reading mysteries since I was little so they’ve always been my go-to genre. They’re the books I gravitate to most, and the ones that fill my bookshelves, so I knew they were the books I wanted to write.

ERN: Who are some of the writers who influenced you?
NN: I grew up reading Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five Series  — they were the first mysteries I read and I loved them. Then I transitioned to Daphne DuMaurier and got lost in her beautiful writing with Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, and Hungry Hill. When I discovered Sue Grafton with M is for Malice, I connected with Kinsey immediately and started reading the series back at A. I have been a huge fan ever since, buying and reading each one of her books as they release. I was able to meet Sue Grafton at the Long Beach Bouchercon and although I came across very calm, the reader inside me was totally jumping with excitement.

ERN: Can you tell us about what plans you have for Katie and Tessa in the future?
NN: Tessa isn’t in book two, but Katie continues as well as Dean, the detective. The second book takes place at a dinner party in Sonoma and revolves around a counterfeit bottle of wine. As for book three, I’m starting to think about taking Katie not only out of the state, but out of the country. But I haven’t started writing it yet so we will see.

ERN: What’s one thing you always have in your refrigerator?
NN: Milk. I drink massive amounts of tea on a daily basis. Black tea with milk, no sugar.