At its best, cocktail mixology is truly an art, engaging each of the human senses—for example, the feel of the proper weight of the glass and the thin rim, which delivers an elegant sensation to the lips; or the aromas of fresh mint and nutmeg, which transport the recipient of these scents to remote lands or memories of childhood. And just as sweet or pungent smells differ from each other by virtue of their different stimulation of the senses, so also do colors vary and evoke different emotions. A drink becomes impressive when it succeeds in touching the sensibility of the guest by finding the avenue to his or her brain and heart.

Winter means a return to hardy leafy greens that can stand up to frost in the garden as well as bold culinary treatment in the kitchen.

Just as real estate professionals have their mantra, “location, location, location,” when describing the properties that are valued most, restaurateurs have their own dictum for success: “staff, staff, staff.” Without a committed, hardworking staff, even the best of fine establishments will falter. And it’s no secret that dissatisfied or dishonest employees, prima donnas, and incompetent managers can and do wreak havoc in both the back and front of the house.

Too many wine buyers approach the buying process without a concrete plan in place. Buying decisions are often made on a whim, driven by supplier, score, or perhaps sommelier ego. To make the buying process more objective, I created a concept that I call “list mapping.”

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The Culinary Institute of America Presents the First Annual Wine Conference at CIA's Greystone Campus in Napa Valley, April 26-29, 2015.