Wine Swirls again, with the Pfister Sommelier

Posted by on Sep 7, 2011 | 4 Comments

My name is Heather Kanter-Kowal and I am the Certified Sommelier and Assistant Manager of the Mason Street Grill in the Historic Pfister Hotel.  This is the first post in a series about wine that I will be sharing with the Pfister community.  We will discuss different wine regions of the world, patient how to taste & evaluate wine, wine & food pairings, how to open a bottle of Champagne (safely!), and many other fun wine related topics.

A little bit of background about me… I started my career in hospitality twelve years ago here at the Pfister Hotel.  While working in Blu as a bartender when it first opened, nurse I realized that I would really need to learn a thing or two about wine if I was going to succeed in dazzling my guests on a nightly basis.  I ran out to pick up a few basic books about wine (and quite a few bottles!), doctor and spent my free hours teaching myself how to understand the wide world of wine.  My career took me to restaurants such as Osteria del Mondo, where Italian vino ruled the list, and Trocadero, which had an entirely French collection.  Along the way, I realized how much I truly enjoyed sharing the information that I had learned with my friends, colleagues, and most of all- my guests.

I studied for the Court of Master Sommeliers tests, which were an intense set of written, practical wine service and the most daunting of them all, the blind tasting tests.  I passed the introductory exam in Traverse City, MI and passed the Certified Exam four months later in Orlando, FL.  Becoming a Certified Sommelier opened the doors for me to work at the Immigrant Restaurant in the American Club of Kohler, WI, where I spent several years managing a vast international collection of lovely wines.

This past February, I was quite delighted to return “home” to the Pfister Hotel, and join the team at the Mason Street Grill.  I am excited to talk to our guests about wineries that they have been to, what wines would taste great with their meals, and to recommend where they can find their new favorite wines.  We are also hosting seasonal wine events, such as the Blackbird Vineyards Launch Party this September 26th and the Joseph Phelps Vineyards dinner on October 20th.

I look forward to sharing some unpretentious and useful wine advice with you!


Heather Kanter-Kowal

Heather Kanter-Kowal


  • Dear Heather:

    Congrats on starting a wine blog! I look forward to learning from you. You may remember, I dined at your restaurant the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. It was a slow night, so you gave me lots of extra attention, we talked about our respective wine classes (I am enrolled in WSET).

    I am hoping to come up to Milwaukee again soon; hopefully you will be on duty the next time I dine at the Pfister!

  • Heather Kanter-Kowal

    Dear Douglas,

    Thank you for your kind remarks! I do recall having a wonderful chat with you about the world of wine & wine education when you joined us for dinner while we were serving out of the Cafe Pfister. Your wine blog is quite excellent, and I hope that this can be useful and inspiring as well. I look forward to talking with you again the next time that you find yourself at the Pfister Hotel, or perhaps when I find myself back in the Windy City for a wine tasting!

    Heather Kanter-Kowal

  • I joined Wine Club because I want some insurance so that I will only taste the good wine that is made by experts and not just anyone who learn wine occasionally. The taste can be confused if I simply take on wine that is made by the amateurs. I hope to learn more about wine and I want to be able to tell them out by just tasting them by my tongue. It’s cool to see that in movie and I wanted to do that in front of my girl. Thanks for sharing this post with us, I hope to learn more from your site in future.


    Thanks for sharing the post, I think, I will definitely learn from you. I am a wine lover & curious to know about wine. I will love to read your experiences. Currently I have the membership of Celebration Wine Club at California.

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