formerly of DJT at Trump International Hotel
| Las Vegas
Studying sports medicine in college just wasn’t doing it for Michael Shearin. But when looking at a wine list one evening at a restaurant, it got him thinking: what are all these wines and what makes each one different? A fairly simple question turned into a curiosity which eventually led him to pursue a career in the finer point of wines – in fact, knowing exactly what makes each one different.
Shearin’s first wine job was working for a local Vegas wine shop and bistro, Marche Bacchus. The French owners delighted in Shearin’s passion for the grape and opened their doors – and often bottles of wine – to him. With sports medicine a distant memory, Shearin went on to work at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon, and then Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak. At Craftsteak, the young sommelier supervised a rather hefty wine list (a mere 3,000+ bottles) and over 120 single malt scotches on offer. In early 2006, Shearin joined the elite opening team of Restaurant Guy Savoy where he put his French wine skills to test by helping build a list of over 2,000 bottles of French wines. His efforts – and vin smarts – paid off: in 2007 the restaurant was awarded ‘Best New Wine List’ by Food & Wine magazine.
Shearin couldn’t resist the opportunity to build another remarkable wine program for the new and very golden Trump Tower’s signature restaurant DJT. He joined the luxury hotel’s team in February 2008 and has since built a diverse wine list. And – stretching his beer and sake legs – Shearin worked to put together one of the city’s best beer menus, and an interesting collection of sake and other spirits.
Since DJT’s untimely closing earlier this year, Shearin has moved on to Los Angeles, where he is working with Celestino Drago to plan the opening of Drago Centro – where he’ll no doubt bring his dynamic approach to the creation of yet another diverse wine program.
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Antoinette F. Bruno: How did you develop an interest in wine?
Michael Shearin: I was fascinated by how it was made, and that there are so many varieties. I didn't grow up drinking it, so it was all new to me. I started learning about it and fell in love with it.
AB: Describe your fondest wine memory?
MS: 1928 Pomerol — tasting it at a lunch at Guy Savoy. It was pretty fascinating! A 1961 Petrus [that I had] at a friend’s restaurant was pretty amazing as well.
AB: Where have you worked previously?
MS: I started out at a small wine shop in Vegas. I did it on the side while I went through college. I opened up Bouchon as a lead server and assistant sommelier, then was assistant sommelier at Craft Steak, and then took over the program. I left to open Guy Savoy, and then spent some time at Bradley Ogden, then DJT.
AB: What courses have you taken? Certifications? Awards won?
MS: I am taking the advanced level in August (I skipped the first level), and I aspire to be a Master Sommelier.
AB: What is your philosophy on wine and food?
MS: I love the fact that I have had the opportunity to work with chefs who work with artisan producers, because that is what I look for. I have wines that not everyone can see in another restaurant. The mix at DJT [was] really great, I turn people on to something that they haven't had before because of small production.
AB: Do you favor Old World or New?
MS: I enjoy a mix of both. Balanced style with good acid. I enjoy wines that are good with food, primarily my background was with French wine. So really, I lean toward old world. Petit Cote Montrachet Domaine. Rabineau Chablis – these are some of my favorites. I can drink Champagne anytime during the week.
AB: What is your favorite wine resource book and author?
MS:Tom Stevenson’s Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia. Kevin Zraly Wines Around the World for good basic information. I carry Michael Broadbent’s Pocket Vintage Wine Companion all the time.
AB: Tell me about a perfect food and wine match you discovered.
MS:Something we [did] at DJT is sea trout with pink grapefruit and yuzu foam with a 1999 Riesling Cuvee. Also, Gewürztraminer ages well and lychee, tropical flavors come through, the pink grapefruit character comes through
AB: What wines do you favor for your cellar at home?
MS:Some champagne — Bollinger 1995; 1985 Margaux; 1994 Bryant family from California; 1974 Mondavi Petite Sirah.
AB: Who are your mentors? What are some of the most important things you’ve learned from them?
MS:Ken Fredrickson — I enjoy the way he approaches and talks about wine. I make it a point to not be snobby, but still be down-to-earth and teach people about wine. I appreciate the way he approaches wine, and I aspire to be like him.
AB: What organizations do you belong to?
MS:Court of Master Sommeliers. I spend a lot of time with my friends who are Master Sommeliers. and I get a lot out of that. It's a great place to be right now. It's an unofficial group, but it's great to have these guys at my disposal.
AB: What languages do you speak?
MS:I have picked up French over the years and plan to learn more.
AB: If you weren’t a sommelier, what would you be doing?
MS:I would work at Disneyland. I love Disneyland! I don't know what I would do there, but I would love to work there…maybe operating a ride.
AB: Which person in history would you most like to share a bottle of wine? What would you pour?
MS:Thomas Jefferson — he made a name for so many great wines. I’d pour a big 1990 Lafite, to show him what it's become.
AB: What are your ultimate career goals? Where do you see yourself in 5 years, in 10 years?
MS:I would love to continue to grow with the Trump organization, but I assume I'll work somewhere with a large group teaching people and staff, and building an extensive, interesting wine list.
AB: What regions are you interested in at the moment?
MS:Always Spain because it's so fascinating. Regions like Jumilla, Monastrell, and some of the whites — not just Albariño. I got to meet the people at Muga; it means a lot to me when I get to meet the people who make the wines.
AB: What wine trends are you seeing in your city?
MS:I see more and more people willing to branch out and try something that they never had. And I like to make people feel they can trust me to show them something new.
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