Irem Eren, Ayza Wine

Irem Eren

Interview: How to pair Wine and Chocolate with Irem Eren

Irem Eren is the lead marketer for Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar located in New York city. She currently lives in New York City  working with wine and chocolate; a match made in heaven. And, she’s the fourth guest included in “Jackie’s Fave 5.”

Below is a summary of our interview:


Favorite quote from Ghandi, “Live as you were to die tomorrow and learn as you were to live forever.”

Her Journey

Originally, Irem never planned to end up in the restaurant industry. She was born and raised in Turkey until she was 19. Her background had been in chemistry and engineering. She always loved chemistry and it was important to find the fundamentals and basics of all materials. But she never ended up working in the chemistry field. She did an internship in chemistry in Germany and realized chemistry wasn’t really her favorite thing to do. Everyone, including her parents, asked Irem, “what do you want to do?” Well, you can never know what you want to do in your life, but at least you can know what you don’t want to do. So when that moment came, Irem decided to study something different; her study was International Business and Marketing. And she went to Spain to do just that. Meanwhile, her cousin had moved to New York, and she planned to visit her cousin for a few months. And that vacation turned into living in NY for the last 3 years.  By coincidence she met the owners of Ayza, she was offered a job and Irem said “Why not? I love New York, I love wine, I love chocolate.” Finally, Irem ended up eliminating what she didn’t want to do and found what she did want to do.

A Low Point

In Turkey, majors are really important and getting the title was important and that led her to keep studying chemistry for 5 years, longer than she wanted to. But she needed to find a job. That time in her life was difficult.

Aha Moment

When she was in Spain, the end of 2009, but it was getting difficult to find a job in Spain. Living in Spain was difficult, but then she found her dream job and had a long interview process over 2 weeks. In the end of it, she was hired. But the next day she needed to head to the office to bring her passport and all the documents she needed. Then they told her that they couldn’t hire her because she is Turkish.  And turned around and said they couldn’t hire her. When she came to New York, knowing it was like a jungle, she knew New York is very tough city. When she met the owners of Ayza and the concept of wine and chocolate, she thought it was perfect. This was like her dream job. She could live on wine, cheese, and chocolate.

Her work now

Ayza Wine & Chocolate Bar is the first wine and chocolate bar in NY; the one and only. They’ve been in business for almost 8 years. One location is in Midtown and the other one is in West Village. It began as a small wine and coffee shop, in which the owners enjoyed wine and chocolate together or chocolate and scotch together. So they came up with the concept where they can sell chocolate and pair chocolate with wine. The first name was Ayza Wine and Coffee Store. After a few months, the wine and chocolate pairing was selling more than the chocolate and coffee pairing. After this receiving this feedback, Ayza decided to change the concept to wine and chocolate. They’ve been experimenting and getting things to happen in 1 year. So they’ve opened the second location 3 years ago. They have a wide international wine selection. In the beginning it was very small. Now, there are many things you can not find in other restaurants such as their chocolate fountains, chocolate drinks, and chocolate martinis, especially their chocolate wine shot. A small shot glass which is made of chocolate and you drink the wine first then you eat the chocolate.Wine and chocolate can be a “match made in Heaven.”

Some suggestions Irem had for wine and chocolate pairings:

If you are looking to have a celebration drink, it can be a sparkling wine or a prosecco paired with white chocolate or milk chocolate with cocoa level below 40%. When it comes to red wine, choose Pinotage, a variety grape from South Africa and pair that with dark chocolate.

AYZA Signature drink:

Raspberry Chocolate Martini

Raspberry Chocolate Martini  – chambord, kahlua and 80% dark chocolate truffle


Lightning Round

Book Irem Recommends:

Kevin Zraly’s Complete Wine Course

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Helpful Habit:

Meditating every morning which also helps her to stay in the moment.

Helpful Person:

In her personal life, her grandmother. She’s a very important person in Irem’s life. And in her work life, the owners of Ayza, who have changed her perspectives. She considers herself lucky.

Internet Resource:

Ayza’s website:

What’s Your Purpose?

To be happy every day. That your happiness goes as far as you go.

Where to follow Irem

Follow Ayza Wine and Chocolate bar. Also find them on Facebook.

Parting Words

Thanks to Derrick for the lovely time and for the interview. She looks forward to having everyone listening to this episode in New York City.

Tired of waking up, going to work, and sleeping with no sense of progress? I am offering a free 30 minute one on one career coaching session just for you. In the session, I will help you create a career plan to make more progress in the next 3 months than this past year. Click here to schedule your session

One More Thing

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Jackie Abrams

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