AUSTRIA (Salzburg) - She attained the final of an international competition taking place in Épernay since 2005 and being organized by the Association of Champagne Houses and Vintners; since, she is allowed to call herself “Austria’s ambassador for champagne”. Elisabeth Eder, wine counselor from Salzburg, “only” attained the third rank in the final competing against competitors as strong an ox, but was awarded with the Prix Spécial. Those allowed to participate in the competition were expert trainers, teachers, counselor and other wine specialists.
The topic was difficult enough: inox or wood – a question of material and style. Different containers that could be chosen for fermentation and vinification in the Champagne region were being discussed. Many senior cellarers could have discussed the topic without finding a definite solution. Despite her good language skills (English, Italian, French, Austrian), it was rather big a problem for the committed woman from Salzburg to have to talk nothing but French during three days. But she cut her teeth despite a bad cold, “as I’m tough”. As a reward, she was allowed during the supporting program – together with eight wine enthusiasts – to meet many producers, enologists and cellarers from the Champagne region, to exchange knowledge with them, and to connect the conversation with interesting tastings (which in the end were helpful against her cold, too).
When she was a young wine trainee, the dashing, hot-tempered Elisabeth had done a sound training. She successfully finished the Höhere Lehranstalt für Fremdenverkehrsberufe (“Institution of Higher Education for Tourism-related Occupations”), before she graduated from a training for wine management at the School of Viticulture in Krems as “state-certified wine manager”. A training as Austrian wine academic as well as the Diploma of Wine and Spirits of the WSET/London followed. Later she let herself train, besides her job, as a cheese sommelier. At first, she acquired practical wine experience even at a winery in California. Then she worked in Salzburg for the Stangl wine trading house, for the Stiegl private brewery, and for the Wine Company, an Austrian subsidiary of the German Hawesko retail giant, before she started her own business and founded a company with the unusual, witty name “Wine Whisperer” just over six years ago.
The connotation with “The Horse Whisperer” movie with Robert Redford had been chosen deliberately. Not that the female wine fan is as well a riding sport fan. “For heaven’s sake, I’ve a mortal fright of those gigantic animals”, she is laughing. But wine is a little bit like coping with proud quadruples. “With my seminar participants and other customers I often have to be very sensitive and treat them carefully. I have to remain flexible and find the right mixture between counseling and entertainment.”
Her field of action is large. She is writing as free author for diverse Austrian media (Gault Millau, wein.pur as well as theichkoche.at Internet portal), and she is a lecturer at the Österreichische Weinakademie (Austrian Wine Academy). The 38-year old woman is able to provide a wide range of services for private persons around a cozy private wine evening as well as concerning cellar equipment, and she can give shopping advice; furthermore, she can give good tips for restaurant owners, wine traders and vintners or train them. She is organizing many seminars (“up to around thousand persons per year can possibly be my students”) but she does not have a firm annual program; instead, she is orientating in her customers’ ideas. Since recently, she even offers good manners training because a need for it occurred in authorities. Even flirting should be learned there. The hot-tempered wine expert, who does not often whisper, assures that she has never experienced a student flirting with her. “At least, I didn’t notice it. But this could be as I’m fully concentrating on my job.”
She certainly likes enjoying a good wine, and with a wink of the eye, she tells this is the reason why she can do without make-up. “A fine drop helps from inside out to prevent wrinkles”, she notices when looking in the mirror. She does not prefer certain sorts of grapes or wine types. Wine only has to fulfill some conditions to be like by Elisabeth. “Color doesn’t matter, but it must be fascinating, touch my soul, tell me a story, literally overwhelm me.” Such a wine was, for instance, the 1990 Château Montrose. She exactly remembers. „At the beginning, it was so closed cagy that we allowed him to catch air in a decanter within a small group of people. As late as at 5 o’clock in the morning, the wine was as good as to fascinate us.” (r.knoll)