Student Spotlight: Getting to Know McKenna Pautsch

Student Spotlight: Getting to Know McKenna Pautsch

After extensive study with San Francisco Wine School, McKenna Pautsch received the Certified Sommelier credential from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Next, Pautsch will further her wine knowledge with travel to Burgundy and Tuscany. She is also very interested to pursue knowledge of Sake.

Pautsch began her journey in food & wine at the International Culinary Center (ICC) in San Jose. She graduated as a pastry chef, and is in the process of starting her own company. Pautsch has always loved combining pastries and other desserts with wine. "They compliment each other so well", she says. McKenna's goal is to open a dessert and wine bar.

Let's Find Out More About McKenna

How and when did you fall in love with wine and decide you wanted to make a career out of it?

I have always had a love for wine. Growing up I was always preparing gorgeous cheese plates and creating wine pairings for parties. I knew I wanted to make it more than a hobby when I first tried a Creme brûlée with a Sauternes. I couldn’t believe the way the dessert was rounded out so well by the sweet wine. Not to mention how delicious it was! It drove me to want to learn more about all the aspects of wine, dry and sweet.

Why did you pursue wine industry credentials?

I pursued wine industry credentials because I love it. Obviously there is so much to learn and I truly enjoy discovering more about wine each day.

What are your career goals?

My goal is to open a dessert and wine bar! Life is too short, sometimes we need to sit back and savor the moment. Both wine and pastry let us forget our worries for a bit and enjoy what’s in front of us.

What are some of your favorite things to drink?  Most memorable food and wine pairings?

I can’t say I have a favorite wine. I enjoy them all, it just depends on the time. My favorite pairing is Champagne with potato chips with a dollop of creme fraîche and caviar. I love the crunch of the fried potatoes along with the creamy tartness of the creme fraîche, highlighted by the slightly sweet pop of eggs. Then the way the depth of the acidity and prickle of bubbles plays with our palette, so amazing!

What has surprised you about the industry?

I have been surprised by the fact that California’s wine Industry has grown so much in the last 20 years. I think it’s wonderful because it is introducing so many new people to wine.

How has taking classes at our school moved you closer to your career goals?

Taking the many classes at San Francisco Wine School has really allowed me to fine tune my palette and create a memory space for wine like never before. I love wine dojo and that David Glancy pushes you to evaluate the wine and finish the grid so quickly and efficiently! It’s helped me become a better taster and pass my CMS Certified exam.

What would you say to someone just starting out?

I would tell anyone who is just starting out to not be afraid or overwhelmed. Sometimes the best thing is to struggle with a wine because it forces you to find a new way to keep it in your memory bank.

What wine region would you most like to visit?

Currently, I am traveling to Tuscany and Burgundy, to study and tour the region with Wine Scholar Guild in their Masters program. I am so excited to be able to walk these amazing vineyards and taste the wines grown in these world renowned areas.

What's the most fun part of your job?

The best part of my job is getting to be creative and play with new ideas and flavor combinations. I am always testing recipes and trying new wines to make the perfect pairing. Then being able to share these combinations with the people around me truly brings a smile to my face!


Learn more about financial aid and internships at San Francisco Wine School and see our upcoming full program and single course schedule. 

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