When Jill Boat Rakowski ‘92 heard her classmate, Maia Parish ’92, was hosting a virtual wine tasting, she jumped at the chance to attend.
“I love that Colorado Academy makes it possible for alumni to connect in unique ways,” says Rakowski, who invited CA parents Sarah Wadsworth (married to alumnus David Wadsworth ’86) and this writer to join her for the tasting.
Denver-based Parish, known as The Wine Mistress on social media, is the owner of The Wine Suite. A certified sommelier, Parish has built an impressive career around wine, what she calls her soulmate.
She holds an intermediate and advanced certification with the International Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) based in London, and she’s currently studying for the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) under the Society of Wine Educators. Parish blogs and judges wine competitions all over the nation and regularly hosts wine tastings.
Fortunately for the 30 or so CA alumni and friends who joined from across the U.S., the virtual set-up didn’t dilute a single drop of Parish’s verve.
“Maia is incredibly knowledgeable about wine,” says Wadsworth. “She’s also hilarious and genuine.”
Indeed. Parish shared stories about embracing a relationship with chardonnay, and that rosé season is, in fact, 24-7. She spurns plastic wine glasses and encourages amateur vintners to “do reds a favor and let them open up and breathe.” And while shepherding guests through the tasting, Parish infused her signature, unconventional commentary about each varietal.
“When she described the rosé as a porch pounder, I got it,” says Wadsworth laughing. “That’s relatable.”
“I’m extra,” admitted Parish, who had three bottles of wine shipped to each guest: a Raymond cabernet sauvignon, a Wattle Creek rosé, and a Buena Vista Chardonnay with stone fruit and spicy, white pepper flavors.
Over the sounds of clinking glassware, Rakowski took a few notes and waved to classmates on the screen. Normally she chooses a white wine, but she was thrilled to branch out and try three new vintages. She didn’t quite latch onto the watermelon or cherry fruit notes in the big, bold cab, but it didn’t matter.
“Wine is always good when it’s shared with friends,” says Rakowski.
Alumni who attended had invited their own cohort to join them. Parents, roommates, significant others, fiancés, spouses, and friends came to the Zoom wine tasting room. Those from outside Colorado were Emily Cohen ’06 (Chicago); Justin Connerly ’15 (Mojave, Calif.); Carrie Fritzinger ’15 (New York City); and Ginger Tallmadge ’06 (Knoxville, Tenn.). Along with Rakowski, Metro Denver alumni included Lauren Kenney Berv ’06, Jessie Chrismer ’00, Katie Cordes ’03, Caroline Cramer ’11, Courtney Ergen ’13, Jack Fritzinger ’11, Ben Hock ’07, Erika Mori ’03, Nicole Hoffman Myers ’92, Kurt Oleson ’11, Julie Beattie Reeves ’90, Andrew Seaton ’92, Charlie Woolley ’72, and Elsa Woolley ’11.