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