The Sommelier Issue
October 30, 2009
Across the country and beyond, we get to meet a lot of outstanding sommeliers and taste their wine pairings. This Dishrag focuses on the wine sleuths, their careers and of course the wine pairs that make them noteworthy.
One thing that’s certain, sommeliers are able to expand their wine offerings as diners are becoming increasingly wine savvy—they’re no longer satisfied with just any old wine. We’re seeing wine lists across the US grow from safe Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnays to include micro-climate, obscure, or otherwise unusual wines from every corner of the globe. There’s an exciting synergy between the expanding American palate and the desire of sommeliers to educate and further develop their customers’ taste for wine.
Want to learn more about breaking the boundaries of wine and food pairing? Wine and hospitality expert (and one of our 2009 ICC presenters) Stephen Asprinio goes into juicy detail on the topic of outside-of-the-box pairings in the Against the Grain article.
Americans’ craving for exploration in wine shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, US wine sales have been on the rise for 15 years straight, and 2008 was no less than a turning point in total wine consumption as Americans guzzled more wine than ever before (at 753 million gallons), even surpassing the rate of historically wine-friendly Italy. Not even the recession has put a stop to the thirst for wine in the US, as our recent Wine Sales survey shows. Sure, diners aren’t as apt to throw big money down for a bottle as they were before the recession hit, but they’re not skipping the vino for tap water. Down-trading is the name of the game: a $40 bottle instead of the $80 bottle or a glass or two of expensive wine instead of the whole bottle. Read more in our survey results feature Glass Half Full?.
Of course, Old World wines still have their coveted place on wine lists and dining tables, but sommeliers are going outside the usual classics and bringing more unknown bottles to the table. Eastern European wines are a growing trend, as are wines with atypical—and sometimes impossible to pronounce—grape varietals. The New World is an ever-growing arena for wine, and long-time members of this wine category, like California and Argentina, have cemented their place in the spotlight. But newcomers like China, India, Lebanon, and Mexico are expanding the boundaries of wine growing. Our wine and spirits writer Jim Clarke led a discussion on New Zealand Pinot Noirs at this year’s ICC; find out more about how Kiwis are finessing this fickle grape and what labels to consider adding to your wine list in our Pinot Passion feature.
And find out what six sommeliers from across the US have to say about their careers, wine and food philosophies, and the trends they’re seeing in their cities. Read interviews with Adam Chumas of Tilth in Seattle, Rom Toulon of The Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa Valley, Thomas Combescot of Adour in New York City, Reno DeRanieri of Cuvee in New Orleans, Eduardo Caro of Grace in Los Angeles, and Troy Kumalaa of Vintner Grill in Las Vegas.
Don’t forget to check out our Boston Rising Stars bios, interviews, and recipes. The Boston Rising Stars Revue is next week on November 3rd at one of the most beautiful event venues in Boston, the State Room—get your tickets here while they last!
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