Interview with Sommelier Emilie Perrier of Ai Fiori – New York, NY

April 2013

Dan Catinella: How did you develop an interest in wine?
Emilie Perrier: I grew up with it in France and began to miss it when I moved to the
United States.

DC: What year did you begin your culinary career?
EP: I began in 2003, but was working in cheese. I worked for a year at Murray’s Cheese Shop.

DC: What sets apart the wine on Ai Fiori’s list?
EP: They have personality and are all made by fantastic winemakers that match our restaurant’s style. Yet, they somehow manage to be unique in their own way.

DC: Where have you worked previously?
EP: Asiate, The Modern, Atelier de Joël Robuchon, and Sho Shaun Hergatt

DC: What courses have you taken? Certifications? Awards won?
EP: American Sommelier Association, Viti-Vini, and I practiced for blind tasting.

DC: What is your philosophy on wine and food?
EP: Harmony and elegance are key components, and they must complement each other toward being memorable.

DC: Do your wines reflect Old World, New World, or a mix of choices?
EP: I would say that we carry more Old World wine since we are a French-Italian restaurant.

DC: List your favorite wine resource book and author:
EP: Any books from Jancis. Robinson. I also like Clive Coates.

DC: Tell me about a perfect food match with your wines?
EP: A glass of crisp, saline Italian white, such as a Pigato from Liguria, or an Etna Bianco from Sicily paired with our squid ink pasta with shellfish ragout.

DC: What wines do you favor for your cellar at home?
EP: White and Red Burgundies, Russian River Whites, a lot of California varietals, such as Chardonnay. I also have some bottles from the Ribera and Rias Baixus regions of Spain.

DC: Who are your mentors? What are some of the most important things you’ve learned from them?
EP: Stephane Colling from The Modern introduced me to the depth of French wine. But, my best mentor is Hristo Zizovski. He taught me how to manage a wine list better and to mold a team.

DC: What producers are you interested in at the moment?
EP: Stephane Tissot in the Jura. I love his wines.

DC: Which person in history would you most like to share a bottle of wine? What would you pour?
EP: I would probably choose Michelle Obama since she is a great woman who marks her time and shares her passion. I would open a red Burgundy, such as Chambolle Musigny from George Roumier. They are elegant, bright, lively, and I think Michelle would enjoy it.