Wine on Starchefs
Brennan’s of Houston
3300 Smith Street
Houston, TX 77006

An Interview with Wine Guy Chris Shepherd, Brennan’s of Houston
By Jim Clarke

Jim Clarke: How did you initially become interested in food and wine as a career?

Chris Shepherd: I have to thank my parents for that one. They used to let me cook for the family one night a week when I was 10 years old. I think that paved the way for me to get into this industry.

JC: Have you received formal wine training? How do you keep up to date on new wines and trends in the world of wine?

CS: I am a culinary school graduate, but nothing for wine. Cooking has always been my first love; wine was something that I studied in my down-time. Little did I know that I was going to move into the position of buying wine for Brennan’s of Houston.

JC: You and Randy Evans have worked together for a long time; how much do the two of you collaborate on the menu and the winelist?

CS: Randy and myself are a lot alike. We started in this business at the same time. We for the most part consult each other on almost everything that goes either on the wine list or on the menu. We both have very strong knowledge of both food and wine.

JC: What do you look for when buying new wines for your list?

CS: I look for things that will both compliment our menu and what the customers are asking for. Our clientele will tell me what they want.

JC: How do you structure and prioritize your wine-by-the-glass program?

CS: I like to offer a little bit of everything. We offer your classic wines that our customers ask for and then some different, interesting things that we can play with.

JC: Brennan’s menu features a number of Creole-influenced dishes; what are your “go-to” wines to pair with these spicier flavors?

CS: Rosé and other fun whites are always my go-to wines. I like for people to branch out and try something that is unusual for them.

JC: How do you go about getting a guest to lower their guard and try an unfamiliar varietal or style?

CS: Our policy is that if you don’t like it, we will drink it. We let our customers know that any bottle that they don’t like we will remove and find them something that they will like. It doesn’t matter what it is.

JC: What wines occupy pride of place in your private cellar?

CS: Long Meadow Ranch Cabernet from Napa. My wife and I have collected every vintage that they have produced. It is just a fantastic wine and even better people that make it.


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 Published: August 2004