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Sommelier Roundtable: Your Wine Resolutions for 2018

With the New Year right around the corner, we asked 7 wine pros how they plan to improve their game in 2018—get inspired!
Photo by: iStockPhoto
Whether it's drinking more Sherry or visiting New Zealand, somms have plans for 2018.

Posted: December 15, 2017

Lose weight. Read more books. Learn to knit. Drink more? If you're a sommelier—or wine lover in general—the latter may well be among your goals for the New Year: to explore less-familiar styles, visit new regions, or simply pop Champagne more often. We asked seven wine pros from Wine Spectator Restaurant Award–winning spots what they're aiming for in 2018. Read their wine resolutions, and get inspired!

Wine Spectator: What are your wine resolutions for 2018?

Jon McDaniel, wine director of Gage Hospitality Group in Chicago, including Best of Award of Excellence winner Acanto and Award of Excellence winners Beacon Tavern, Coda di Volpe and the Gage: My biggest resolution for 2018 is to drink more! Now, before you send me to Betty Ford, I taste possibly hundreds of wines a week for placement in our restaurants and education, but I rarely have time to drink them. I think it is so important to put yourself in the guest context to truly appreciate a wine and how to apply it. My goal is to create more time for myself to pop bottles with my friends and colleagues to appreciate wine, not just taste to consider a purchase.

My other resolution is to share my new project with the world: Second City Soil. This is a website featuring all things Chicago wine—a way to promote features of restaurants, producers, sommeliers and events that can help spread the word on the amazing wine community in Chicago!

Harley Carbery, wine director for Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and Delano Las Vegas, including Grand Award–winning restaurant Aureole Las Vegas; Best of Award of Excellence winners Fleur by Hubert Keller, RIVEA Las Vegas and Stripsteak; and Award of Excellence winner Libertine Social in Las Vegas: Definitely taste more and more wines from the far reaches of the world. So, not staying stuck on my favorites from Burgundy and Champagne, but continuously trying more and more new wines [that] maybe I haven't tried before [and] keeping an open mind while trying them. And then, of course, enjoying as much Champagne as I can!
WS: Any regions you have your eye on in particular?
HC: Patagonia. I was lucky enough to be down there about six months ago and taste some pretty fantastic wines, and I think they will continue to get a little more recognition around the world. It's still very small and fairly unknown. And then also my homeland of Canada, specifically British Columbia. There's also some fun, higher quality wines coming out of there right now.

Andy Myers, wine director for José Andrés' ThinkFoodGroup, including nationwide locations of Jaleo and other José Andrés restaurants: I have a few resolutions. I’m really hoping to drink more grand cru Burgundy on other people’s dime ☺. I will drink at least a half bottle of Manzanilla a week. I promise to stop telling my girlfriend that there is no good wine in South Africa. I will practice with my venencia [Sherry cask wine thief] until I can stop embarrassing myself in Jerez.

Erik Segelbaum, wine director for Philadelphia-based Starr Restaurants, including Best of Award of Excellence winners Le Coucou in New York, Upland in Miami Beach and Le Diplomate in Washington, D.C.: To revisit wines that I may not have given a fair enough chance, for whatever reason, in the past. I don't want to name names, but it becomes so easy in the business to be dismissive of something based on reputation or scores or lack thereof, or people insisting that 'This is the best whatever.' I feel that we as somms sometimes try not to like those wines because of it. And in my younger years, I don't think I gave those wines as fair of a chance. I would never want to have someone come to one of my restaurants, have one not-so-great experience and then never come again. I would expect that they'd give us the chance to do it right for them again. So, wines that I haven't really loved that I've only had once, I think I owe it to the winery and myself to go out of my way and try them again.

Also, drink more Riesling. If I could educate everyone who drinks wine about Riesling, I would be so happy. I definitely see it regaining the popularity that it deserves as a sophisticated wine, especially in the drier styles, and I would like to see that continue.

Virginia Philip, wine director at Grand Award winner HMF and Best of Award of Excellence winner Flagler Steakhouse at the Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla.: I am finally traveling to New Zealand. I have dreaded it due to the intensive travel time. I rarely sleep on planes for long periods of time, but Down Under, here I come!

Jessica Norris, director of beverage for Del Frisco's Restaurant Group, including nationwide locations of Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House, Del Frisco's Grille and Sullivan's Steakhouse: To study long enough and hard enough to pass the 2018 Master [Sommeliers] Theory Exam.

David Gordon, wine director for the New York–based Myriad Restaurant Group, including Grand Award winner Tribeca Grill: 1) To continue to train my sommeliers at Tribeca Grill to be friendly and warm to our customers, in addition to educating them on the classic wines that make up the depth of our cellar. 2) To try to be more open-minded about wines that are out of my comfort zone, [which is] anything other than Châteauneuf-du-Pape. 3) To be open to ditching all of it if the Knicks call and need a 3-point shooter.

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