Serving Up Six Sommeliers

by Kathleen Culliton and Jessica Dukes
Vicky Wasik
September 2010 is serving you a tasting of six sommeliers who represent the future of an increasingly diverse industry. Now that untraditional pairings of biodynamic wine, organic wine, wine from new regions, and craft beer have gained clout, the need for professionals who are versatile and creative in their craft is vital.  We’ve brought together a collection of perspectives from Mollie Battenhouse, Charles Curtis, Fred Dexheimer, Paul Grieco, Steve Olson, and Madeline Triffon; sommeliers whose expertise in innovation knows no limitation.


Mollie Battenhouse

Mollie Battenhouse, DWS of Maslow 6 – New York, NY

· Fast Facts

Mollie Battenhouse did not expect her fine arts degree from Wesleyan to lead her into the wine industry. But when the part-time job at Wesson’s Best Cellars shop in Manhattan became the time she enjoyed the most, Battenhouse decided to devote herself to the study of wine. Today she can be found at Maslow 6, a Tribeca wine shop and collector’s community, providing wine aficionados with the means to learn, collect, taste, and enjoy.

Charles CurtisCharles Curtis, MW of Christie’s – New York, NY

· Fast Facts

The celebratory spirit that Charles Curtis brings to his exciting career is one best paired with a glass of Champagne. Charles Curtis would agree. Serving as Director of Wine and Spirit Education for Moët Hennessy USA before coming to Christie’s, Curtis was at the heart of the bubbly industry. When asked what celebrations merit a glass of Champagne Curtis simply responds “another day above ground.”

Fred Dexheimer

Fred Dexheimer, MS of Juiceman Consulting – New York, NY

· Fast Facts

Fred Dexheimer, MS is a credit to his borough; he remains one of the two Brooklyn sommeliers ever to earn the title of Master Sommelier. Beginning as a self-proclaimed “cellar rat” stocking the cellar of Manhattan greats such as Restaurant Daniel and Gramercy Tavern, Dexheimer now enjoys a reputation that allows him to direct cellars of equal caliber. Brooklynites will be glad to note that the cellar at Motorino is among them.

Paul Grieco

Paul Grieco of Hearth and Terroir – New York, NY

· Fast Facts

This year’s pot-stirring “Summer of Riesling” (where Grieco put just a single grape varietal on the wine-by-the-glass list at both Terroir locations) earned him Critic Frank Bruni’s endorsement as an indelible figure at New York’s dining room table. Known for his scoffing mirth, “vivid attire” and brambly, quixotic goatee, Paul Grieco stands out most for his adherence to the rumble of the earth in each full glass. According to Grieco, a wine is “great”, as long as “the terroir of the grape resonates through [it] like a summer thunderclap.”

Steven OlsonSteven Olson, aka Wine Geek

· Fast Facts

Muddle one encyclopedic travel guide, add one part experienced consultant to two parts old college buddy, shake with ice (for coolness), and you’ve got Steven Olson, aka Wine Geek. He’s a crusader for wine and spirits education, the fun way, to zap it of its intimidation factor. Demystification is the theme of his blog, articles, and constant circulation of events. Off once again on adventure, he’s recently been filming a documentary in Greece about the country’s food and wine, and tending bar to the crew.

Madeline TriffonMadeline Triffon, MS of the Matt Prentice Restaurant Group – Bingham Falls, MI

· Fast Facts

Now Chairman Emeritus on the Master Court of Sommeliers, in 1987 Madeline Triffon became one of only two females to join its ranks. She started off in 1977 as a wine steward in Detroit, thanks to some pluck and a good French accent. Detroit’s strong wine community owes its gratitude to Triffon, who has centered her career there. Today she is a prolific blogger of wine tips on the Matt Prentice Restaurant Group website, and director of the group’s wine program.