A Socal Sommelier’s Story
By Anabel Marquez | Photos by Rachel Carrillo
Whether it’s a cozy night in with a glass of red, or a sunny day out with a crisp white wine, the treat at the end of a hectic day or a way to compliment a hearty meal, wine has become a beloved drink for many and Murphy Perng knows that well.
Murphy is a SoCal Sommelier with a Wine & Spirits Education Trust Advanced Award. Through her company, Matter Of Wine, which specializes in hosting fun and educational virtual and in-person wine tasting workshops for corporate and private parties, she has built a loyal customer base.
To date, she has hosted tasting workshops for hundreds of clients, including Google, Buzzfeed, Snapchat, and Boston Consulting Group, and she’s been featured on wikiHow, National Geographic, and Somm Journal. And after welcoming a baby girl, she’s ready to scale her business to the next level.
How it all started
This SoCal Sommelier who is also a mom to a baby girl, Murphy felt such enjoyment around the experience of drinking wine that she started spending time exploring wineries around California.
“One of my hobbies was drinking wine,” recalls Murphy. “I’d always go wine tasting with my girlfriends— we’d go to Temecula, we’d go to Sonoma, we’d go to Ojai…all these amazing places!”
But as much as she enjoyed her wine outings, Murphy remembers feeling stumped when asked what kind of wine she wanted to try.
“I decided I’m doing this too often to not do anything about it,” she remembers.
She found herself researching the centuries-old drink and reading all about wine. The more she learned, the more she wanted to know. But as much as she would read about textures and aromas, she felt she would never truly understand the simplicities and complexities of wine unless she formally studied it.
“You can read about how something tastes but can’t thoroughly understand it, unless you’re tasting it,” she says.
In 2016, she enrolled in a wine certification program, where she felt right at home. “I felt like I had found a group of people who really aligned with me in terms of their love of enjoying life,” she recalls.
By the time she reached the advanced courses, her classmates started asking why she wasn’t in the wine industry. Murphy had been working in communications for a healthcare company and hadn’t necessarily thought about switching careers but in late 2017, a friend who knew she had been certified as a Sommelier requested to book her for a company holiday party. That’s where Murphy got the idea of creating Matter Of Wine, a private Sommelier services company.
“Wine is such an indulgent industry. People love good food, they love good wine and they really enjoy sharing it,” she says.
Running a Post-Pandemic Wine Business
Murphy’s business had taken off with wine-tasting parties, workshops and bookings. She was gaining momentum through reviews on Yelp and word of mouth recommendations. Her natural ability to engage groups and teach people about wine and the elegance by which she shares her knowledge was paying off. She added “Sip & Sail” wine tasting experiences on small yachts in Newport Beach and Marina del Rey.
But in 2020, the global pandemic shut down the entertainment & culinary industries putting a sudden stop to all Matter Of Wine operations. Murphy, however, remained optimistic.
“Successful business owners always are able to push through,” she told herself. “I knew that starting a small business would mean doing a lot of pivoting because people are always looking for different wine trends.”
Suddenly the world of virtual wine tastings opened up for Murphy with wineries reaching out requesting a virtual Sommelier.
The Challenges of Motherhood for a Sommelier
When Murphy started family planning there were very important things to consider:
“I was actually really nervous because I thought to myself, I love Matter Of Wine and this is exactly what I want to do and I’m doing it… but if I’m pregnant, I won’t be able to drink.”
Murphy consulted with her doctor and spoke to fellow women in the wine industry to get ideas on how to keep the business running while maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
In wine tasting, there is process called “Taste and Spit” by which a person can taste the wine, swirl it around the mouth, get the aromas and the flavors on the palate and spit it out. After spitting out the wine, a person can still feel the flavors to gauge its quality, says Murphy.
Still, when her pregnancy reached six months and her belly was continuing to grow, Murphy decided to take a step back. She did this to prioritize rest but also to avoid a possible misinterpretation of a pregnant woman’s intentions with wine.
But as Murphy had learned through the Pandemic, businesses have to be ready to pivot when necessary. She hired Sommeliers to step in for her and handle bookings and requests.
Today, Matter Of Wine is still going with new wine producer partnerships expected in 2024. The company’s goals include giving customers a deeper appreciation for wine while donating to organizations that help individuals living with kidney disease.
“You can read about how something tastes but can’t thoroughly understand it, unless you’re tasting it,”
-Murphy Perng -SoCal Sommelier
As for Murphy’s favorite wine— it’s Amarone della Valpolicella.
“It’s an alluring wine with aromas of dark berries and rustic herbs. On the palate, Amarone is plush and intensely flavored and finishes with ripe, velvety tannins. It’s a festive, holiday-perfect wine because it pairs well with rich, flavorful holiday proteins,” she tells Mommy In Los Angeles Magazine during the photo shoot for this feature.
“The reason I love Amarone is— there’s such an involved wine making process, it really translates when you sip the wine. You can taste the effort that was put in to making this wine,” she says.
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