We are so excited to have Lee Pancake join us on the show today. Lee is the General Manager at Tim’s Wine Market and he also teaches wine courses at Slate Wine & Spirits Academy. We love to host fun and educational events for our clients, so we thought it would be fun to invite him to the show this week to help us learn a little more about wine pairings and tastings.
Lee got his start in the wine industry in 2011 as a stock clerk at his uncle’s locally-owned wine market in Orlando. At the time, he was still attending UCF for business management and entrepreneurship while trying to figure out what he wanted to do after university. As time passed, Lee was bitten hard by the “wine bug” and developed an insatiable thirst for wine knowledge. Through books provided to him by his uncle, Lee developed an impressive base of knowledge on the subject.
In 2017 Lee began his journey through the WSET after meeting local Master of Wine, Jean Reilly. He quickly rose through the ranks under her guidance and later that year began teaching under Jean, fulfilling his dream of educating others on the subject he had become so passionate about. After four years of honing his skills in front of a classroom, Lee became the Director of Education and Owner of Slate Wine & Spirits Academy making him one of the youngest individuals ever to become an Approved Program Provider and Nominated Educator for WSET.
Lee divides his time between working with his uncle in their family-owned wine market and teaching WSET courses through Slate Wine & Spirits Academy. When he’s not teaching, Lee produces music and spends time hiking the globe with his beautiful wife, Madison.
Get in touch with Lee:
Note: This transcript was produced using AI, so please excuse any typos and inaccuracies…
Marc Killian 0:00
Welcome into this edition of plan wise retire free with Jude Wilson from centrist financial strategies. Got an exciting episode this week, a little something different for folks. Lee pancake is joining us from Tim’s wine market to talk about wines and wine pairing. And just giving us some interesting things to think about. If we are interested in those kinds of things. That should be a fun, slightly different episode here on Plan wise, retire free with Jude Wilson. So Jude take it away.
Jude Wilson 0:38
Lee, happy to have you here today. How are you?
Lee Pancake 0:41
I’m very well, thank you so much for having me here.
Jude Wilson 0:43
I am so happy that you’re here. Because Thank you wine is one of those topics that I feel guilty about. And let, let me tell you, why should I believe at this age of my life, at this stage of my life, I should know more about why I should be sophisticated. I see friends and family and clients drinking wine all the time. And I’m about as simple as you get, just give me something sweet. And that’s all I ever asked for. So I’m glad to have an expert here that can teach us a little bit about wine,
Lee Pancake 1:19
happy to do it. And I and trust me when I say this is not the first time I’ve heard someone say this, I hear I hear this all the time. And this is this is something that, you know, my generation in the wine community as a whole is is really trying to help fix in a way because we want our consumers and we want our customers be confident in their wine choices, whether they’re with me in one of my stores, or in a restaurant somewhere on their own, or if they’re on vacation and in a different store. So we want to instill that wine confidence in the consumer. And I’m happy to be here to you know, help facilitate that today.
Jude Wilson 1:54
Well, wonderful. Well, let me start by saying, I know it may sound weird that a financial planning firm is talking about why. But okay, but here’s the reason why. At our firm, we love to do fun events for our clients, and then educational events. So we normally do a fun event. Maybe once a quarter, we’ve had our clients go to top golf. We’ve done painting with a twist. Yeah, we’ve done all kinds of events to just bring some leisure to the client. And we once did a wine tasting at Tim’s wine market. So we we did use your services. But today, I want to specifically talk about you how you got into the industry. And then I want to talk a little bit more education about wine itself. Is that with you? Sounds great to me. All right, wonderful. Well, tell me first of all, how did you get into the industry? Why why why this
Lee Pancake 2:59
nepotism strikes again, right? So I’ll outline it pretty simply, when when I was about 2011. And I was working as a lifeguard and swim lessons instructor for Orange County Parks and Recreation. And I had done about four summers doing that. And I was ready to find a job in air conditioning, at least until I finished up college. I was at UCF at the time, and I was over at my grandmother’s timeshare, a place we call the summer house, in case we refer back to it later. And I was talking to my uncle Tim, who is the owner of Tim’s wine market. And I just I don’t remember what we were talking about. I was probably just saying, you know, I I don’t know what to do. I want to find another doing something. You know, I don’t want to be a lifeguard anymore. Something along those lines. And he was like, Well, I just so happen to have a summertime position. Why don’t you come in and move some boxes around for me and and see what you think. So fast forward, October 2011. I got I went first day, move stuff around. I’m reading labels. I don’t know what any of this stuff means. So what do you do? What do you do in that situation? You start Googling things. Right. So I I’m immediately you know, going home I’m looking at, you know, Cabernet Sauvignon? Oh, no, that means it’s a great Friday. Fantastic. It’s
Jude Wilson 4:22
still number one that means but I
Lee Pancake 4:26
gotcha. So So I, let’s just say, you know, really, you know, shortly after that I was bitten by what we call the wine bug. And there was no going back for me. I mean, I I had found something that that was so deep. I’m a I’m a person that’s thirsty for knowledge, no matter what I’m studying or talking about just what I how I am Tom built. And when I found this subject that seemingly has no Intuit as its evolving every single day. I was just I was taken. And in here we are about, you know, 12 years later. Almost and it’s all I do I live, breathe, sleep it, it’s my whole thing and and it started out as, you know, a part time thing, you know trying to finish up University. I graduated from UCF degree in management and entrepreneurial nights and think yeah, go nights charge on and I really wanted to continue my path. It just so happened there’s a full time position available at Tim’s wine market. I jumped in there. And then here we are, you know, General Manager of the Orlando store, I work with all the franchises, I own an education company called slate Wine Spirits Academy where we provide WSU tea qualifications and certifications. So it’s, it’s grown into something a lot larger than what I initially anticipated back in 2011. But here we are, it’s been a very worthwhile adventure so far.
Jude Wilson 5:45
Wow. That’s a great story. It sounds like wine is truly your passion.
Lee Pancake 5:50
That’s what I do. It’s my passion. It’s my whole world.
Jude Wilson 5:53
Well, then I can, I couldn’t ask for someone better to be on the podcast today. So I told you, we, we do fun events for our clients. And several times a year, during COVID. We’d never did them live obviously. Previously, we had done a wine tasting at the store at your store. So tell me your experience twofold. Now, one with virtual wine tastings, how do you how do you pull that off and make it successful? Yeah, and then let’s, then we’ll go into real wine tastings?
Lee Pancake 6:29
Yeah. On the on the virtual aside, you know, as a retailer, you have to sort of answer this question on both sides of the coin, because one side of the coin is, obviously you want to create this worthwhile and very, very high quality education experience. But on the retail side, you also want to create an avenue for sales. And that’s the sort of difficult part of it is that, you know, when when you don’t have the customer there with you in the store, you’re really relying on this high quality education experience that will hopefully, in the future, sort of breed an opportunity for that customer to come in see you and purchase the wine. Around that time, we started sort of reaching out into the E commerce space at Tim’s wine market. So that that sort of helped alleviate that problem where we weren’t seeing a lot of retail sales after virtual events. But there is there’s really no substitute, in my opinion, for an in person wine event for a number of reasons, you take a person like me who’s incredibly passionate about what we do, that is much more difficult to sort of translate that passion over a virtual space, rather than doing it in person, you sort of have this opportunity to monitor your your participants in person and see that light bulb turn on and see that passion ignite in the crowd. Whereas online, it’s a lot harder to sort of manage, you know, 20 3040 faces at one time in a zoom scenario, like what we have today. So while the virtual space is challenging, I think on the education side, it’s a wonderful tool. on the sales side of things, it does present challenges, for sure.
Jude Wilson 8:09
That makes a lot of sense. And, as I’ve mentioned a couple of times before the the live version that we did at your store, it went off. So well, it was one of the most well reviewed events. And we’re so glad to hear that we do a ton we do a ton of events. So to be at the top of the list, that means that you guys did something really good. So let’s talk about a live wine tasting. Sure. If someone wants to hold it in their home, yeah, what do you do?
Lee Pancake 8:41
So there’s tons of options. You know, we, we have, and I’ve tried to estimate this number. I don’t know how many times but we’ve, we’ve done on site and off site tastings, at least one a week, for the 28 years that we’ve been in business, it’s something that we’re very, very familiar with, obviously, when you come into our store, much like what what you all did and had an event in one of our physical spaces, we have a lot more control over what we’re doing what we can do, and sort of the the outcome of the event. Now, if we take that event off site, you know, we can do a lot of those same things. But you know, the type of event that we do and you know, sort of fitting it to the space, which we’re going to use when we get to the site, sort of all has to do with how big it is how many people are attending, if we can do a sit down lecture format class and that space, or is it going to be what we sort of call the poor in chat, where you know, we’re there as the floating wine professional experts, and we’re pouring wine for these clients, participants, family members, and we just sort of answer questions and give elevator speeches on the wines as we go. And that’s generally what we do for these OpSite events. When we go and do them in like a financial firm or doctor’s office or a private residence. We’re doing sort of a Pour and chat. Let’s call it like a wine TED talk, if you will at
Jude Wilson 10:03
you. Gotcha. I like I like that analogy to wine too. Yeah, we have clients across the United States. So it’d be kind of difficult to fly everybody into Tim’s store store. Sure. But tell me to pull off a successful virtual wine tasting, what are some of the things you would recommend?
Lee Pancake 10:23
So having somebody you know, like me, or somebody else in the industry, who is one, well versed in technology, and two, has experienced with doing any type of virtual wine tasting, making sure that you send out enough information in advance so that all participants can have everything that needs set up, by the time the call or the event begins, you know, simple things, I’ll just outline a few, right. So when we’re, when we’re talking about tasting and evaluating wine, you want a couple of things. One, you want to be in a space that has good lighting, I’m in a space that has great lighting, right now, you want to be in a space that doesn’t have any strong odors or smells, you don’t want to be able to have a clean palette, you don’t want to have to have just drank a whole pot of coffee, then you’re not gonna be able to taste you know, and to give those participants a little bit of information about the wines ahead of time, just to give them a little bit of a clue as to you know, what subject matter in each wine we’re going to be talking about, it’s really that sort of, you know, set up to the whole event that really makes a big difference during the time of the event. That way, when there is time for questions, you know, there are really meaningful, really high quality questions rather than So, you know, tell me the difference between the Chardonnay and the Savin blanc again, I think I missed that. Well, you know, we refer back to the educational material we sent you before. And I’ll give you a brief overview of that. That way, you have a lot more time for questions and answers and also time with the professional on that call.
Jude Wilson 11:56
Well, time is of the essence. I’m glad you brought that up, because I want to make sure I’m using the best source of your time. And
Lee Pancake 12:03
patience. So you’re, you sent me a T ball over here.
Jude Wilson 12:08
You and I both we might be a bad pair. Speaking of pairing CI trends, isn’t that lovely? Tell me about your experience or, or how a customer should go about pairing wines within when they’re doing or when we’re doing a wine tasting.
Lee Pancake 12:29
Yeah. So this is a really touchy subject, but it’s a very highly contested subject to me, you know, personal preferences, first and foremost matter more than the actual, you know, pairing itself. And I’ll give you some examples. When you think about sort of the benchmark, or the textbook wine pairings that exist, one of the biggest ones is champagne and oysters. I love champagne and oysters, really, but oh, yeah, absolutely. It’s like God’s gift to wine pairing. If the person you’re tasting with or a participant in your group is allergic to shellfish, all of a sudden, that is the worst wine pairing that exists. So the first thing you have to sort of take into account is personal preferences. And to always keep in mind that food has more of effect on wine and wine has on food. And what that should tell people is Oh, yeah, absolutely. That is why for the most parts, when you are figuring out a wine pairing, you should really have in front of you the full menu. As far as the culinary side is concerned, before you start thinking about the wine pairing. That way, you can sort of ease into the wine pairings rather than having to fit what you’re cooking to the wine that you’ve chosen. And in most cases, the wine you choose is going to go just fine with what you’re drinking. But there are some guidelines you can follow to sort of help you along that path to choosing a better a better wine pairing. And I’ll give you one rule right off the top. Match the intensity. If you’re eating a really intense meal, you’re going to want to pair that with intense, a wine that’s of the same level of intensity. I’ll give you an example. You’re going to a steak house. You know you think about wine pairings of steak all the time you hear about it all the time. If you go to a steak house, you order a beautiful medium rare bone in T bone ribeye, whatever the case may be, that’s going to be with you know, listen, that’s what that’s what I’m doing all day. But if you order Pinot Grigio, whether you like pinot grigio or not, if you’re under Peter Graecia. With that state, you’re not going to taste the Pinot Grigio. So sure that pairing will work if you love Pinot Grigio, but you’re going to be much better off with a fuller bodied more intensely fruited red wine. Thank Cabernet Sauvignon. Thanks, Sara. Thanks, Sanjay. surveysay from Italy, those three gray Briars will serve a lot better. One because they’re higher intensity, but also because they’re higher in acidity and tannin. Those are two of the main constituents and one that really helped pair with food when he takes something that’s really high in fat, or has a lot of oiliness to it, like, you know, a fatty or steak like a ribeye. And you have a wine that has a lot of acidity or a lot of tan that’ll help cut through that little wave of fattiness that that steak has and sort of help balance that out a bit more on the palate, you know, and there’s a lot of these guidelines that that that exist. And if you’re really interested in that, I mean, we do a massive piece of this in the WS CT level one award and wines, which is a course that I teach. So, you know, food and wine pairing is a delicate subject, but one that can be dissected by using a few pretty easy to follow guidelines.
Jude Wilson 15:44
Well, speaking of guidelines, I’ve got three last questions for you, please, number one, generally give us a general rule of when to pair or white wine, or went to pair a red wine, just just the general rule for each general rule. And then and then I’ll wind up with my last question.
Lee Pancake 16:05
Absolutely general rule, white wines with white meat, red wines with red meat. If you want to keep it that simple. I’m all good with that. Think about it in terms of sort of a scale right? If you’re having fish, start with a lighter white wine, totally good with that. Moving on to chicken, think about more of a medium bodied, you know, white wine, something like a shin and blanc or some savvy, you know, blondes even. But if you’re going to go into port, you know, white, burgundy, Chardonnay, that’s a fantastic pairing there. But when you jump into the red meats, lamb, beef, et cetera, you want Cabernet Sauvignon, you want Sahra you want Dolcetto Barbera, something that has some mass and texture to it, delete that food pairing.
Jude Wilson 16:45
Wonderful. Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you the question that you probably hear every day. Sure. The name like pancake. What Why goes best with pancakes.
Lee Pancake 17:00
I think I think we go back to the fun topic of breakfast foods and wines, you know, breakfast wine pairing, you know, if I’m having pancakes, I’m probably eating in the morning, which means I’m going to want a glass of champagne, something that has a little acidity, some bubbles to sort of wake me up and give me a refreshing palate feel. And go along with that little bit of sweetness that those pancakes are going to provide. But champagne and pancakes, you’re doing the right thing?
Jude Wilson 17:28
Well, you’ve knocked it out of the park. I want one I want to thank you. But lastly, I want to make sure people know how to get in contact with you. I know we caught your introduction in the beginning. But you have two sides of of the hat that you play, I guess you Tim’s wine bar, and you also have education. Tell us a little bit about that and how can people get in contact with you?
Lee Pancake 17:53
Absolutely. So I’m the general manager of Tim’s wine market. If you’re interested in holding an event in your home, or want to buy really high quality find family owned and operated wines from wineries that we absolutely love and know well contact me, Lee at Tim’s wine.com or 407-895-9463. If you’re interested in taking your wine passion further, and you want to solidify your hobby or passion in the world of wine, contact me at Slate Wine and Spirits Academy. So slate wine academy.com, or li at Slate wine academy.com. I’m here to help. I’m here to teach.
Jude Wilson 18:31
And that’s Lee pancake. Don’t forget about the pancakes and the bubbles. Thank you. Thank you so much. We really appreciate you educating us, and we can’t wait to do an event with you in the near future.
Lee Pancake 18:44
Thank you so much for having me. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you.
Marc Killian 18:48
Thank you so much for being here on the podcast. We always appreciate your time and for checking out the show. We thank our special guests Lee pancake from Tim’s wine market. Again, you can find them online at Tim’s wine.com And don’t forget to reach out to us here on the podcast. If you’ve got some questions need some help? Get onto the calendar with Jude and the team at centrist fs.com That’s interest fs.com You can find all the good tool tips and resources there as well as schedule some time with the team or subscribe to the podcast on Apple, Google or Spotify. We’ll see you next time.
Speaker 2 19:27
The preceding program is sponsored by Jude Wilson who is solely responsible for its content