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Nadine Brown
Charlie Palmer Steakhouse
101 Constitution Ave NW
Washington DC, 20001
202 547 8100

Wine Tips »

Interview:
Antoinette Bruno: How did you develop an interest in wine?
Nadine Brown: I have a bachelor’s degree in social work and used to work with emotionally challenged kids – one day I needed a break. I got a host job at Bistro Bis and got the bug! I was very lucky to work with some really passionate people.

AB: Describe your fondest wine memory.
NB: I worked a charity event recently at a private house in McLean, Virginia. I ate pizza while drinking a 1990 Latour from a paper cup. It was perfect! In general I like making wine approachable for people who find it intimidating.

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Nadine Brown
Charlie Palmer Steakhouse | Washington DC


Biography
Sommelier Nadine Brown was born and raised along the sunny shores of Jamaica and Puerto Rico, where drinks like rum and coffee played an important part in the culture, but ironically for the future sommelier, wine was almost absent. Before she caught the wine bug, Brown’s calling took her to the mainland U.S. where she earned a bachelors degree in social work at Wheelock College in Boston, and went on to work with emotionally disturbed children for several years. Brown moved south to Washington DC to take a break from social work and began hostessing at Bistro Bis. Brown found the energy on the floor addictive and never looked back, learning front of the house from the ground up and working as hostess, server, banquet captain, office manager and floor manager. It was here that one of Brown’s first managers sparked an interest in wine. After four years, Brown moved on to work at other venues, including Signatures, Butterfield 9, 701 and Ten Penh.

While studying for her degree with the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, Brown continued to gain practical experience, attending tastings and seminars and reading anything and everything she could on the subject. She became a student of the grape in its historical context as well, studying the origins of wine dating back to the Turks, Romans, and British, even taking a French class at the USDA in order to assist her pronunciation.

Brown’s work with fine wine drew her to fine foods, including one especially memorable meal at Charlie Palmer’s Aureole in New York. When she heard news that Palmer was opening a venue in DC, she didn’t hesitate to apply. At Charlie Palmer Steakhouse, as one of only five women in the area to run a wine program, Brown matches Bryan Voltaggio’s cuisine with sophisticated American wines. Some of her favorite matches including an inky Russian River Syrah with Voltaggio’s slow-braised short ribs, and a sparkling rose with a simple, seared foie gras. She enjoys the challenge of introducing patrons to the restaurant’s high quality, all-American wines and veering guests whose preferences lie with Old World wines towards an American bottle comparable in quality and taste.

While continuing to pursue her Master Sommelier Course and head up the wine program at Charlie Palmer Brown seeks to share her knowledge with plans to record CD’s teaching the pronunciation of wines, grapes, regions and more.

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Interview Cont'd
AB: Who do you consider to be your greatest mentors?
NB: Jeffery Buben at Vidalia, Ashook Ajar at 701, Gordon Leigh, formally of Bistro Bis. Herb Kaplan, Josh Radigan, Dan Fisher, Cathal Armstrong have all been influential as well.

AB: What courses have you taken? Awards won?
NB: Currently, I’m involved in both the Master of Wine and
Master Sommelier programs. I won the Rammy award for best
Wine and Beverage program and also received a Michael Bonnacorsi
Scholarship from the Court of Master Sommeliers.

AB: What is your philosophy on wine and food?
NB: To make wine approachable. To find a balance between traditionalism and innovation. To support the people who
do this for the love of the juice, whose integrity comes through in the glass. To have fun.

AB: Do you favor Old World or New World wines? Why?
NB: Neither, that’s almost a silly question. Life is about finding balance. It depends on my mood, what I’m eating and what is available.

AB: Tell me about a perfect wine and food match that you discovered.
NB: Pinot Noir based sparkling and foie gras is great. I like Soter Estate, from Oregon. The acid and earthiness in the Pinot cuts through the fat in the foie gras.

AB: What wines do you favor for your cellar at home?
NB: German Riesling and anything made by Ted Lemmon

AB: What are your ultimate career goals? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
NB: I would like to work in Las Vegas at some point, because it seems like the closest I could come to working on another planet. I would also like to open an education-oriented wine shop and center.

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  •    Published: October 2006

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