| 18.04.2021

Somm-antic Drift

Kat Long is the service manager and wine buyer for farm-to-table restaurant Odd Duck in Austin, Texas. Approaching wine ethos the way Chef Gilmore approaches food, Kat aims to curate a small, eclectic and dynamic list, featuring producers favoring low-intervention farming and wine making techniques. With seasonality is at the heart of the restaurant, Kat works with the chefs to rotate bottle features that further highlight and enhance the quirky foods the restaurant is known for. Staff education also falls on Kat’s shoulders, leading employees through training on new selections, and blind tasting exercises to develop taste memory and vocabulary to help servers make thoughtful recommendations to guests.
Outside of the restaurant, wine still plays a huge role in Kat’s life. Over the summer of 2020, Kat joined the Austin Winery team for harvest, going out to vineyards in the Texas Hill Country to hand pick, crush, destem and press grape bunches, and monitor fermentation of their boutique line of low-intervention wines. The Austin Winery also allotted a small amount of High Plains tempranillo fruit, for Kat to experiment with, resulting in six cases of her first ros‰é. Kat continues to work with the winery, with plans to join the team in the vineyard and winery once more in 2021. Kat also works part-time for the Zagat publication The Infatuation as a Happy Hour Hotline beverage professional, communicating with members through a portal to answer any of their questions about wine and cocktails, and help members craft cocktails with ingredients they already have in their homes.

Having a background in psychology and sociology, and a passion for culinary arts, wine felt like the perfect meshing of these worlds. The cultural and historical influences that contribute to the final product in the glass are of deep interest to Kat, teasing out the factors that led to the cultivation of the vine in different societies. With a deep love and appreciation for food and hospitality at the root, Kat has been known to throw small pairing dinners for friends, cooking family style meals and opening up bottles from the region the food traditionally hails from.

Kat completed the CMS Introductory Sommelier Course in 2019. Plans to take the certified exam were put on hold when the global pandemic hit, and energy had to be redirected to keeping the restaurant alive. Kat looks forward to diving back deeper into studies, and continuing to explore the vast world of wine.