Do Tell: How One Woman Went From Franzia to Wine Aficionado

March 30, 2020

Meet Chelsie Petras.

Job: Cybersecurity Specialist
Passion: Wine
Home: Jersey City, New Jersey

If Chelsie looks familiar, it’s because you may have seen her before. 

It might’ve been across the mini silverscreens on a JetBlue flight, or maybe Instagram’s explore page. If you live in Jersey City, it might’ve been at your local bank. If you’re a regular at a Manhattan-based wine bar, you may have spotted her reviewing grape varieties at the corner table.

As a wine writer, TV host and cybersecurity specialist, Chelsie is the definition of a modern-day renaissance woman.

Her Instagram handle @chelloveswine (a great source for style inspo and wine education) started as an ode to her habit of carrying around a box of Franzia in college. That quickly changed, as Chelsie used the moniker as motivation to explore her curiosity for the world of wine. In her new normal, she’s now hosting virtual wine tastings via the aforementioned handle and curating the best of virtual wine for experts and beginners alike at @thevirtualtastingroom.

We recently chatted with Chelsie to talk career, life and the ingredient that seems necessary for both — delicious wine.  

P.S. This article pairs well with really any vino (or drink for that matter). 

ON GETTING TO NEW YORK

I’m from a very very small town in upstate New York called Dolgeville. I spent 20 years there, and then a year in Florida before I moved to NYC. I’ve been in the NY area for seven years now living between Hoboken, Astoria and Jersey City.

ON STARTING HER PASSION PROJECT

I was actually working at Gucci at the time doing e-commerce operations. I really needed a project, because I was becoming very burnt out. I needed something fun to do. My Instagram and Twitter handles had always been @chelloveswine because in college, I was the girl that always had a box Franzia.

Eventually I thought, ‘You know what? I live in New York City, the greatest city in the world, and I should be taking this opportunity to learn more about wine, because I can get any wine in the entire world here.’

This was my opportunity to try to learn. So I thought, ‘Let’s put together a blog so that I can learn about wine and share it with other people.’ There’s such a stigma around it, so people are intimidated to try to learn about it, but it’s just an alcoholic beverage. It’s just wine. It’s just grapes. I wanted to be able to create a place that people could learn with me about wine. And today, I’ve been doing that for about four years. I have multiple wine certifications and I’m taking another one this year, so it’s really been something that I started to keep myself busy that turned into a passion.

ON MAINTAINING A SIDE HUSTLE

I have a full time job in addition to my blog. I work for a bank doing cybersecurity. This is what I call my “pay-the-bills job” and my wine blog is my “passion job”. Wine influencers were pretty niche a few years ago but have grown in popularity. I use my IG page to promote wineries and regions but I also freelance for publications, direct and produce video content for brands and even host a few wine-based TV shows (you might see me on JetBlue!)

ON TAKING RISKS & CAREER DREAMS

I’m a Virgo, so I’m a big planner. I like to make my decisions based on a lot of facts and thought. I don’t think I’d necessarily call myself a dreamer, but I think goals and dreams are interchangeable. I have goals for weeks and months and years from now. I have goals that might lead me to my dream one day.

And then you just have to go for it—big or small. I take smaller steps, but I still go for it. I have an idea and I’m like, ‘Okay, can I do this?’ And then I just take one small step and each step gets you there. I always get discouraged when I look at all the goals I set, and I haven’t gotten to where I wanted to be, but then I just take a second step back and look where I was a month ago, six months ago, a year ago, and the growth is there. You don’t see it every day, but it’s really amazing when you can take a step back. So even those little baby steps toward your goal help. You just have to start.

ON HER PERSONAL STYLE

I am such a casual person when it comes to dressing. Anything that is easy to throw on and doesn’t take much thought. Sleek lines, a baggy sweater, that perfect pair of jeans. However, I’m currently obsessing over anything tie dye on RTR!

ON HER MORNING ROUTINE

I get up at 7:30am, walk my dogs (Boston Terriers named Carl & Margot) and do a quick 10-minute makeup routine.

ON HER EVENING ROUTINE

I get home from work, walk and feed the dogs again, do a quick 30-minute workout and shower followed by an intensive skincare routine. Then I usually make dinner, catch up on emails, blog posts and projects. Right before bed I update my to-do list for the next day and try to be in bed by 11pm!

ON HER NEW NORMAL

Self-isolating during COVID-19 has been a big change. New York is always turned on. It’s always a really busy place, so I always feel like I’m really busy. It’s kind of been nice in that sense to not have to be so busy. But the wine industry really relies on social events and dinners and trips. There’s a lot of social interaction that goes into wine, so I’ve really been trying to make my platform accessible and do virtual tastings and events for people. Right now, we are really relying on that sense of community. We’re relying on communication and community and being there for each other during a super weird time.

I appreciate getting the rare opportunity to spend more time with my boyfriend and family during the day. We typically spend so much time with our coworkers, so it’s nice to be able to see my other half more and learn how we work together in a new way.

ON WHAT SHE CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT

My dogs and champagne.

JUST BECAUSE

Listening to: City of Angels by 24kGoldn

Last Google search: Thermometers for sale

Favorite IG/Twitter/TikTok handle: On TikTok I love @omsteve and @heyberg.

First fashion memory: Going school clothes shopping with my aunt every August, and I always had to buy jeans that were covered in crystals and gems. The sparklier, the better.

Biggest hero: Martha Stewart

Best advice you’ve ever received: It’s okay to ask for help!

Best advice you’ve ever given: There’s no better day to start working on your goals than today.

WINE TASTING 101: Your 10-Step Guide

Step 1:
Look like a pro.

Step 2:
Wine!

Step 3:
Flick the wrist. Release the aromas.

Step 4:
Tilt and smell.

Step 5:
Take notes.

Step 6:
Take a sip.

Step 7:
Get some air.

Step 8:
Coat your mouth.

Step 9:
Release the wine (or don’t).

Step 10:
Be a pro.