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Explore the fascinating journey of Lee Salzman, who seamlessly transitioned from the world of rare Italian stringed instruments to becoming a sommelier, integrating her rich experiences in art and culture into an inspiring wine career. With a background in sales of Stradivarius and Guarneri Del Gesú instruments and a tenure as Chief of Staff for the First Lady of Illinois, Lee's multifaceted experiences have honed her into a sommelier of extraordinary caliber, blending her love for wine with exceptional service and marketing savvy.
Image: Lee Salzman, Sommelier
At the heart of her current role at Insights in Marketing, Lee Maher Salzman stands as a testament to the power of passion, knowledge, and dedication in crafting a successful career in the wine industry. Her role involves critical market research, helping both large and small wine and beer brands navigate the complexities of packaging, placement, and cultural resonance. Her work with brands like Paul Hobbs, Meiomi, Constellation, Molson Coors, MLB, and NFL highlights her versatility and expertise.
Lee's approach to customer service is rooted in her belief that success comes from listening to and respecting the customer's views and preferences. When it comes to training new staff, she focuses on gauging their wine knowledge, familiarizing them with food and wine safety, and teaching them about proper temperature, service, and menu pairings. She emphasizes the importance of feedback, specific customer needs, and service in growing wine sales while relying on marketing, surveys, communication, and relationship building to increase net profits.
For Lee, continual learning is key. She stays updated with emerging wine areas and new trends by working on the floor and reading extensively. Her passion for making customers happy and changing their preconceptions about certain wines is what she loves most about her job. Her approach to elevating the guest experience includes offering tastes of wine, listening attentively, and ensuring that all guests, especially women are recognized for their knowledge of wine.
When selecting new wines for her program, she considers availability and price, while looking for kindness, fun, and a service-focused attitude in new sommeliers. She evaluates the effectiveness of a wine program based on its ability to cater to all: popular, funky, fine, and affordable. Lee’s journey is a beacon for anyone aspiring to make a mark in the wine industry.
With her blend of expertise, passion, and dedication to service, she continues to craft memorable wine experiences and guide businesses toward success. Lee Maher Salzman is also a judge at the 2024 Sommeliers Choice Awards.