While some people find a spiritual connection with animals, Palm Beach wine connoisseur Jessica Altieri would be better matched with a botanical, such as a grape or, better yet, an entire vineyard.
As Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach’s newly minted wine director and wine and water sommelier, Altieri knows a thing or two about good grapes. A level-two wine somm and one of a handful of certified water somms around the world, she spends most of her days and evenings sharing her wine knowledge with hotel guests and restaurant patrons.
In the seven months she has worked for Four Seasons, she’s completely revamped its wine program and designed wine lists for every food and beverage outlet, including the resort’s brand-spanking-new, fine dining room, Florie’s. Menus are dotted with vintages close to her heart and brands from winegrowers with whom she’s established close-knit ties, like Francis Ford Coppola. The two met in 2015 at an awards dinner and shared a selfie (“That’s the millennial in me,” she says) while Altieri was helping to judge the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, the largest competition of North American wines.
Additionally, she curated the first-ever water menu in the Four Seasons global luxury brand’s 58-year history, which showcases many of the world’s finest mineral water brands as well as rare and harder-to-come-by selections. Locally, it can be enjoyed at Florie’s in Palm Beach. For Altieri, the menu seemed like a no-brainer. “At Four Seasons, we’re always considering new ways we can enhance the guest experience,” she says.
She even has a luxury water flight spotlighting different water regions, like Vichy Catalan, the No. 1-selling water from Spain, and Svalbardi from Svalbard, which is about 600 miles from the North Pole and where there are more polar bears than people. “It’s an ultra-low, mineral Arctic iceberg water and sells for $110 on my menu,” Altieri says.
Possessing a bottle of well-balanced mineral water calved from Alaskan icebergs also makes an excellent alternative for customers who prefer something other than wine or Champagne to celebrate a special occasion or to say “cheers.” “Then, when I tell them how we can get more calcium from certain mineral waters than a glass of milk, they’re sold,” she laughs.
Altieri also stages daily wine and water tastings to provide partakers with a broader understanding and deeper appreciation for the quietly complex beverages they sip and swirl inside their glasses.
Beginning April 5 and 6, she will be kicking off a pair of wine and water tasting experiences at the property’s posh boutique and gift shop, Swell, and in the main lobby bar’s lounge, respectively.
Every Friday, guests attending the Sip and Shop event at Swell will receive complimentary 5-ounce pours only available by the bottle at Florie’s and costing more than $100.
“I wanted to give everyone an opportunity to sample wines that weren’t served by the glass,” she says. “This way, if they like it, they may feel more comfortable ordering it next time they come in to dine.”
Wines will be carefully coordinated with the designer the boutique is spotlighting that day. “So, say, for example, we were going to feature silver jewelry from David Yurman, I’d pick out something like a sparkling wine because it’s light and crisp,” she says. “But if we were doing something warm and cozy, like cashmere, I might pull a cabernet sauvignon.”
Her blue eyes light up when she talks about the Wine and Water event she’ll be hosting in the bar-lounge on Saturday afternoons. She says, “It’s not going to be a formal tasting and you won’t be punished if you’re running late.”
In fact, guests can arrive and depart any time they choose. They’ll also receive two glasses to sample three wines and three water varietals. If someone prefers to drink wine instead of water or vice versa, she won’t mind.
“These experiences are meant to be customizable,” she says. “Whatever the guest wants, goes.”
During the 30-minute tasting, she’ll discuss drink properties, how each wine-and-water duo complements and contrasts each other, and why they make good bedfellows.
Seated in her Porsche 911 Carrera convertible, a gift she gave herself after she relocated to Palm Beach in September, Altieri doesn’t miss a beat when asked what she considers the perfect conversation starter. “Wine,” she says. “I’ve always said ‘wine is a conversation waiting to happen.’ It’s printed on our wine list.”