Christine Marais Hoffman is one of my fellow sommeliers at Terroni. Guess what else she is? PREGNANT. ‘Tis one of the hazards of being a woman in this industry, you could get knocked up and then what do you around all this wine? I’ve always wondered what would be in store for me, whenever it is I try to start a family (like a gazillion years from now…) So, I asked Christine to fill us in on her experiences the past 9 months.
Best and worst parts of your pregnancy, as it pertains to your role as sommelier?
Best part has to be the look on people’s faces when you arrive at their table. The look of disbelief which they try to hide is quite funny. Worst: The painful carpal tunnel in the last trimester which has made it difficult to open some bottles and you really have to make sure you have a good grip on those bottles as your hands gets less trusting. Carpal tunnel is a common symptom during pregnancy, even if you’ve never had it before. Edema is also common in the hands and feet. Edema is when excess liquid gets trapped in you tissues.
Were you able to taste at all during your first trimester?
I am sure you could taste during the first trimester, however I was pretty conservative and did not taste anything at all during the first trimester. Mainly because it took nine years and an egg donor to get pregnant and I wanted to be extra careful.The first time I did taste was at 13 and a half weeks at our blind tasting Sommelier Christmas dinner and wow wow wow did those wines taste amazing. It was a culinary pairing dream and I kept thinking to myself; “how in the hell do people eat without wine?”
How has your palate been affected?
My palate definitely started changing shortly after that. I tasted some new wines at work, but absolutely nothing appealed to me. During the last trimester my palate was shot from hormone changes and even the smallest sip would give me the worst heart burn. I did attend a Ribolla Giala tasting which was delicious and very well paired with food which was a huge help with the heart burn, but even after spitting most of it, heart burn got the better of me in the end.
What have you done to stay in fighting shape and withstand several hours on your feet on the floor of the restaurant?
I believe that working has been great for me during pregnancy. Hours of walking keep you in shape and help with swelling. I still hike and have been taking a pregnant water aerobics class the last 5 weeks which is amazing. My feet swell more on my day off than on the days that I am working. I am now in week 37 and still work because it makes me feel better. I do have to watch my reach as my belly can easily knock over a glass of wine!! I plan on working till the beginning of week 38 and then still swimming and hiking till baby comes.I look forward to having my palate back and enjoying the beauty of food and wine pairing.