Food & Drink

Claire Paparazzo

Claire is a New-York-based Sommelière and creator of the new series, Wine If You Want To. She studied at the American Sommelier Association with Andrew Bell, and has worked for the likes of Larry Forgione, Jean-George Vongerichten, Tom Valenti, & Dan Barber to name a few.

How has the pandemic affected you professionally?

I was just finishing my first wine documentary (that was self-funded) while working full-time as a sommelier in a restaurant when the restaurant closed due to the coronavirus. I’ve lived and worked in restaurants in NYC for 26 years, and to all of a sudden not have a job and not receive unemployment due to massive delays is alarming to say the least.

How have you been affected personally?

I have been working so hard to create my own work in the documentary circuit, using money from my savings to get this project off the ground, so my personal and professional life are very much connected. I was feeling a great amount of momentum – I had other wine projects in the works, but I’m still unaware if any of this is attainable right now.

I heard recently, ‘I’m not stuck at home, I’m safe at home,’ and I love the sentiment."

How do you think it will impact the future of your industry?

I fear restaurants will not operate on the level that we are familiar with out of fear of future outbreaks like this one or of a different kind. I felt fortunate to work as a Sommelière and not a manager to allow the flexibility and time I needed to fuel my other interests. I’m just not sure the structure in the future will allow this luxury.

If you had to identify a silver lining out of this, what would it be?

I heard recently, “I’m not stuck at home, I’m safe at home,” and I love the sentiment. I have been able to spend time with my husband and cat, and I don’t take any of it for granted. I love cooking and nourishing myself from the inside, so that has been delightful, and I’ve also started sketching again.