Nicole Niebisch  has worked in the wine industry for the past decade. She started in New York restaurants as a sommelier and, prior to joining Lot18, spent five years working for Folio Fine Wine Partners, an importer and producer of wines from several of the world's top regions. Nicole has formally studied wine for 10 years and holds certificates from the Society of Wine Educators, the American Sommelier Association and the Diploma in Wine and Spirits from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

Q: How would you describe your wine personality?

NN: If there was a Myers Briggs for wine types I suppose I would be an  A.B.I.O.:

Acidity - This has to be dialed up in a wine for me to really like it. And that's why my favorite wine producing country is ...

Italy - A land that considers food and wine one in the same.

Barbera -  it's very hard to commit, but if I had to pick my favorite red grape variety of the moment it would be Barbera from Northern Italy. It has so much ripe fruit charm for everyday versatility and gives me the acidity I crave!

Often - Wine is a central part of my life so I constantly taste and consume it to discover and evolve my education and palate.

Q: What are your favorite foods?

NN: I could happily live solely on bread, cheese and wine. But if I have to pick one type of cuisine or food it would have to be Mediterranean fare. I love olives, particularly the green Castelvetranos from Sicily – they have an incredible creamy texture and mild, meaty flavor. I'm also happiest with an array of vegetable antipasto and grilled whole branzino drizzled in olive oil and lemon juice.

Q: What are your favorite wines to drink?

It definitely depends on my mood. But for white wine I love white Burgundy, particularly Chablis because they are racy and mineral driven. For red I love Tuscans and, of course, Barolo and Barbera from Piedmont.

Q: What’s the most epic wine you’ve ever tasted?

In 2006 I tasted the complete 20-vintage vertical of the iconic Super Tuscan wine, Ornellaia. That was pretty epic. It was fascinating to see the style evolve as the age of the vines increased along with the different blends of Bordeaux grape varieties. The 1998 vintage was killer.

Q: What’s your favorite wine region to travel to?

Alsace in France is gorgeous  and has such an interesting history that resonates with my German and French heritage. I also am in love with Sicily – the wines, the landscape, the food!

Q: What region is next on your travel radar?

NN: I am itching to get to South Africa and also Jerez in southern Spain where Sherry is made. 

Q: If you could have dinner with one winemaker who would it be?

NN: Angelo Gaja. I'd expect him to uncork several of his majestic Cru Barolos from the '70s and we'd sip and compare them over fettuccine in a white truffle cream sauce. Heaven. I guess I should get cracking and try to set that up!