Interview with Chef Michael Shearin formerly of of DJT at Trump International Hotel – Las Vegas, NV

October 21

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.