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With a group? By yourself? Do you go fast or take your time? Do you prefer someone with experience, or a novice? How do you like to taste wine? Personally, I prefer a blindfold. Ok, I'll stop there. But I will say that there is a fair bit of pleasure when blind tasting wine... and after my third Malbec in a row, a touch of pain. It's more than just a party trick to impress your friends. I can assure you it's not a magic trick and it's not even brain surgery. It's a skill that anyone can learn, but... Continue reading
Posted Feb 25, 2015 at the social sommelier
I met her in Chicago. It was love at first sight and oh, did we travel together! New York for a few years then across the pond to London. We wanted to go on forever, but in England we said goodbye as she sought the comfort of another friend from South America. Time moved on. I moved to Toronto and then Pittsburgh. Stories surfaced of her return to North America, but I figured I'd seen the last of her. Then, just a few weeks ago as I opened the cellar door at our friend's house in Miami, there she was,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 25, 2014 at the social sommelier
It's Friday night and you just finished a long week of work. The desire to go out on the town has narrowly been eclipsed by changing into sweatpants and curling up on the couch for a good movie. Maybe you quickly throw a steak on the grill or pick up the phone for delivery. Either way... easy. Now what to drink? You've certainly earned a few glasses of wine but maybe this isn't the time to dust off your prized gem in the cellar. Right now you need a good, reliable, comforting glass of wine. It doesn't matter if you... Continue reading
Posted May 30, 2014 at the social sommelier
Pouring Bordeaux under the table while the rest of the family drinks Manischewitz at Passover. My dad serving an excessive amount of Champagne on New Years Day when everyone is clearly hungover. Bringing a bottle of Rioja to almost every party for the last 35 years. Sure, my family has some pretty great drinking traditions, but none as remarkable as the Margarita. Today is Cinco de Mayo and I'm sure it is one of the biggest margarita days of the year. I'll bet my parents are even mixing up a batch in Chicago as we speak. However, what about Easter,... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2014 at the social sommelier
"Just tell your customers that we don't have any pinot noir. We can't get any pinot noir. And thanks to that damn movie Sideways, there is no pinot noir left in the city of Chicago!" It was my first job in the wine business and this was honestly what we were instructed to tell our restaurants and wine shops after the movie Sideways came out. It's not as if pinot noir never existed before, but it certainly had not received such celebrated fame across all wine drinkers until we were introduced to such a hopelessly romantic character named Miles, nearly... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2014 at the social sommelier
The funny thing about working in the wine business is that all of a sudden people start giving you wine gifts. I've seen it all. Golf towels, cheese trays, card games, icesicle chillers, elaborate paintings, those cute stoppers to save the remnants of an unfinished bottle of wine. What wine lover out there has half drunk bottles of wine sitting around their house? On the flip side I can also say that since I've been working in the wine business most of the gifts that I give out revolve around a recently discovered gem that's a great value to drink... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2014 at the social sommelier
Keep your shirt on for this social samba! A bar crawl might feature inebriated Santas stumbling down the road. A progressive dinner party is a slightly more mature crowd moving from one friend's home to the next for each course of the meal. But nowhere in the world captures the revelry of the night, delicious food, and fantastic friends quite like Seville, Spain. Here in the south of Spain, tapas bar hopping is something of a religion. No matter what night of the week, once the sun goes down the plazas are filled with friends looking to share a glass... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2012 at the social sommelier
It's really the trickiest day of the week. So many options for just one of your two days off. It's very different from Saturday, of course, because of the impending workweek that lies ahead and knowing that when you wake up tomorrow, it will be Monday all over again. For some it is a day of reflection, and rest. For others it is a chance to get ahead on work or errands so that you're better prepared for the week. Friday already feels so long ago and now that assignment that you've procrastinated for ages might finally have to be... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2011 at the social sommelier
Not long ago it was the wine bar. Then, the small plates and tapas movement began to take over. Today, local/seasonal restaurants are multiplying in your neighborhood like jackrabbits. When I first came to London 15 years ago there were certainly no local British restaurants. I remember going French our first night, then Italian the following night, and then dying for some real British food to round out the trip. Sure enough, it was back to the French. Today it’s a much different story with more and more restaurants taking to this local movement. So how do we distinguish the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2011 at the social sommelier
A Croatian, an American, and a Canadian head out to sea in kayaks... Good start to a joke or the makings of an unforgettable evening with friends? You never find them them in the guide books or travel magazines, but rather the greatest travel stories happen on those chance meetings or random sequence of events that finds yourself in most local, most authentic of experiences. The seas were angry that day my friends... Our guide led us past jagged cliffs, hidden caves, and through some rather treacherous waters. That was all before lunch. We stopped off at the most unassuming... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2011 at the social sommelier
Seize the wine! What is the best possible wine that you could be drinking at this very moment? Don't think presumptuous, think ambitious. I'm not talking about the La Tache or the La Tour of the world. I'm talking about a real wine, within your budget, that's available to you right now. Each time you select a wine there is potential to learn, to be transported, to improve, and to enjoy. Well then, why wouldn't you want to take full advantage of every opportunity to drink the best possible wine? Inspiration, evolution, communication. These are the three key elements that... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2011 at the social sommelier
Pete Townshend's arm whirlwinds through the air as he plays the first few chords to The Who's, Baba O'Riley, while Jimmy Page races his way through the opening riff of Led Zeppelin's, Black Dog. Classic songs capture our attention right form the opening few notes and leave us salivating for more... but it is only the beginning. The excitement of an amazing song makes us want to jump right in, but we can’t. We wait, we listen, we sit on the edge of our seats savoring the music as it is revealed to us. It’s this anticipation and wondering where... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2011 at the social sommelier
Red with red meat, and white wine with fish. It was a good start, but who really uses that ancient rule anymore when matching wines. If anything this only sparked our rebellious spirit and soon we were trying the opposite, matching pinot noir to salmon and even vintage champagne to a perfectly grilled ribeye. Amazing! These days you're more like to find sommeliers who are as bold and daring as ever with their wine pairings including obscure white wines from around the globe. Let's hope you're a fan of chardonnay from Croatia! The limitations of most wine pairings is that... Continue reading
Posted Oct 15, 2010 at the social sommelier
It's always the one you least suspect... My wife and I moved to New york a few years ago and her first introduction to my college buddies was the Hoboken St. Patrick's Day Parade. Not exactly the most sober event on the East cost! Now I can't say it wasn't fantastic getting together, drinking green beer, and introducing my wife to all my rowdy friends, but I knew we were going to have to mix up the parties, and maybe next time without the plastic cups. Wouldn't you know it, but the craziest one of the bunch called up the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2010 at the social sommelier
I still remember the rush of excitement from that first sip. This isn't to say the first glass of wine when I knew I wanted to become a sommelier, that was a 1952 Chateau Margaux, tasted over a decade later. No, in fact, i remember my first glass of wine... ever. Now I know there are some people that might think that 10 years old is too young to appreciate the delicate subtleties of wine. I never said that I remembered the smell or taste of that first sip of wine but rather it was the emotional thrill that went... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2010 at the social sommelier
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Dec 11, 2009