A few months ago, I attended a wine gathering organized by Inside Wine: Santa Barbara. At first, I thought it was going to be a regular tasting where you socialize while drinking plenty nectar of the gods. Instead, I found myself seated in a classroom setting, learning from a pair of esteemed sommeliers how to tell the difference between pinot noirs from different parts of the world. I came away enlightened and with a few new friends who share the common passion for wine.
One such friend is Tama Takahashi, the food edtior of Touring & Tasting Magazine, who organizes these stimulating gatherings along with co-founder Lila Brown. Inside Wine: Santa Barbara is a Meet-Up group (see meetup.com/inside-wine-santa-barbara) that congregates monthly to get the inside scoop on the wine business, often directly from the winemakers themselves, through tasting events, seminars, and even vineyard visits and picnics.
Tama took the time to answer the Proust questionnaire.
What is your favorite experience regarding wine?
Attending VinItaly this spring in Verona, Italy. Thousands and thousands of wines from around the world and a huge food pavilion full of artisanal treats like black truffles! A foodie/glutton/wine lover’s paradise.
What is you like most about your job?
I get invited to wonderful food/wine experiences. Also, wineries send Touring & Tasting their wine pairing recipes. Sometimes I need to cook them to photograph them — that’s the most fun of all.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
To have created a wonderful new career after hurting my back and having to leave the motion picture business. I was a camera assistant in Los Angeles for years and I thought the worst thing in the world was to not be able to do that job anymore. It turned out to be my “silver lining”! I never would have left that business on my own, so I wouldn’t be a food editor or live in Santa Barbara. Imagine having to live in smoggy L.A. all one’s life — no, I’m grateful.
What is your current state of mind?
Happy and grateful.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Sharing a fabulous homemade meal al fresco with a great bottle of wine and friends and family.
What is your greates extravagance?
What is your greatest fear?
I try to live in faith and not in fear.
Who do you most admire?
My father, now deceased, who was Japanese-American and encountered a lot of prejudice, but he pulled himself up by the bootstraps, working his way through medical school to become a classic American success story.
What is the quality you most like in people?
Honesty — and a wicked sense of humor helps!
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
Deviousness and passive aggressive people — doesn’t it bother you when someone won’t be direct and own their actions and opinions?
What do you most value in friends?
A sense of adventure.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Sometimes being way too analytical.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Cool. Nice. Tons.
Which talent would you most like to have?
In the next life, I’d love to come back with a voice like Rihanna.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To quit being self-critical and accept myself as imperfect.
Where would you most like to live?
Santa Barbara. What’s not to love? Perfect climate, nice people, opera, festivals, beaches, mountains, fantastic wine and food.
What is your most treasured possession?
Mmmm…not sure. My daughter isn’t a possession, but she is my treasure.
Who makes you laugh the most?
My fiancé, Paul. He has a sometime dry, sometimes goofy sense of humor — he always puts me in a good mood.
What is your motto?
Live each day to the fullest and look for the good in life and in people. One can lose things like money, possessions, jobs, looks, but no one can take your memories from you, so make them good ones!
Inside Wine: Santa Barbara hosts a special event this Wednesday, November 20, 6 p.m., at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, where Master Sommelier Richard Betts will discuss his new book The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert: Take a Whiff of That. Click here for tickets.