$10,000 and Under
One of only 274 Master Sommeliers worldwide, and one of just 24 women to be given the distinction, Alpana Singh became the youngest female to pass the final level of the Master Sommelier exam, at the age of 26.
Born and raised in Monterey, California, Alpana's strong work ethic and ease with people of all ages stemmed from a youth spent working in her family’s ethnic grocery store. Later, while waiting tables in college, she fell in love with wine and discovered that it united her varied interests in traveling, history, and food.
Alpana Singh shares her inspiring story of rising from the daughter of Fijian immigrants to becoming a successful entrepreneur and television personality all while navigating a male-dominated profession. She gives groups a glimpse of the back of the house as she teaches them how to taste wines “blind,” purchase bottles like a professional, and pair with meals for any occasion.
At the age of 19, Alpana pursued a path in the business with a job as a wine sales clerk at Nielsen Bros. Market in Carmel, California. By 23, she had landed the sommelier position at the world-renowned Everest Restaurant in Chicago. Just three years later at the age of 26, she earned the title Master Sommelier.
This distinguished accomplishment, along with her effervescence, experience and energy, was magnetic, and it wasn’t long before Alpana Singh found herself in the local spotlight. For ten seasons, she served as the host of the three-time Emmy Award-winning restaurant review television show, Check, Please!, on Chicago’s PBS station, and returned in 2018 after a five-year absence. In 2014, she also appeared as a featured judge on Food Network's Food Truck Face Off.
In 2006, Alpana released her first book, Alpana Pours, a unique lifestyle book that shares her social observations of wine, contemporary women, and relationships. A humorous and real look at the sometimes absurd interactions between men and women plays out in an entertaining book of tips for hosting and entertaining.
In December 2012, Alpana opened her first restaurant, The Boarding House, a wine-driven concept in the River North neighborhood. In February 2015, she opened her second restaurant, Seven Lions, on Chicago's iconic Michigan Avenue, and then in 2016, she opened her third restaurant venture, Terra & Vine, in Evanston, Illinois.
Alpana has been recognized for her various achievements and contributions to both her industry and community. In 2001, Alpana was included as a Crain’s “40 Under 40” honoree in Chicago at the age of 24, Bon Appetit named her "Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year" in 2006, and she received the “Sommelier of the Year” Wine Star Award from Wine Enthusiast magazine. She has also been featured in numerous publications, including Newsweek, Food & Wine, Wine Spectator, Chicago Tribune, and The New York Times.
A prominent member of the community, Alpana is a member of the Choose Chicago Board of Directors and on the Advisory Council for the Illinois Restaurant Association. She played a significant role in bringing the James Beard Foundation Awards to the city of Chicago in 2015 and is an avid supporter of Deborah's Place, an organization that assists and empowers women facing homelessness.
Go behind the scenes and learn how to taste wines “blind” like a Master Sommelier. With this entertaining crash course, you’ll learn quick and easy tips to improve your everyday wine enjoyment by learning how to taste and describe wines like pro, purchase wines for your cellar and learn how to pair wines for any feast or occasion.
Alpana shares her motivating and inspiring story of going from the daughter of Fijian immigrants to becoming an successful entrepreneur and the youngest woman to pass the Master Sommelier exam and being just one of 25 women to ever do so. She shares her wit and wisdom of how she overcame adversities and navigated a male dominated profession and also went on to have a successful television career and own three restaurants. She inspires women to show up in the ring and the importance of knowing that we are worthy and that we are enough.
Alpana shares her story of how she overcame her modest and humble beginnings as the daughter of Fijian immigrant parents to becoming a successful restaurateur, Master Sommelier and Television personality. The valuable lessons she learned from the immigrant experience that helped her develop the grit, determination, and tenacity to achieve her high level of success. She shares stories of her childhood, navigating the expectations of her parents to become a doctor with wanting to pursue her passion for wine and why diversity and her role on television today is so important.
Mentorship and Paying it Forward
Alpana knows the value of mentorship, she wouldn't have achieved what she did without it. She has mentored dozens of wine professionals who have gone on to achieve their own success. She offers her insights on how micro-mentoring can be just as effective as macro-mentoring, how companies can recognize, cultivate and retain talent in today's competitive job market and why a pay-it-forward culture is the key to creating a lasting legacy.
Wine tells the story of persons, places and things ever so easily. Alpana will take you on a journey to connect whatever message you are looking to convey – whether it’s wines made by women, selections that celebrate the spirit of entrepreneurship or bottles that highlight global diversity, Alpana will customize a tasting or dinner to really personalize and bring home the theme of your event.
Group tastings are a fun and dynamic team building exercise. Alpana will start the group off with a brief tasting lesson then participants will be divided into groups and then they will put their new skills to the test by tasting wines blind. The team who correctly names the grape and provenance of the most number of wines wins.
She conducts classes, provides post-event mixers and instructional wine bars for attendees, and creates exceptional experiences that are the ideal pairing of the informative and the entertaining. And everyone walks away with a greater knowledge about not only wine, but about the surprising depth of their personal taste.
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