Aldo Sohm has been the man behind the list at NYC’s Le Bernardin since 2007, one year before he earned the title Best Sommelier in the World from the World Sommelier Association. He has since branched out, making grüner veltliner with Gerhard Kracher under the Sohm & Kracher label, designing glassware with Zalto and recently opening up a wine bar across from Le Bernardin.
On Austrian Challenges
I used to say Austrian wine is the best food-pairing wine. Today, grüner veltliner has a bit more of a challenge because everyone is moving into Loire and Jura. But you have a hard time matching the food at Le Bernardin with Loire or Jura; the food is too clean for that. All this kind of sashimi stuff, do you match chenin blanc with that? Grüner is smoother, not as aggressive in acidity, not as edgy. Many chenins from the Loire are not super clean to me. I know it’s in trend right now, and I accept that. I like the Brèzes but it’s impossible for the normal consumer to get them.
On Bordeaux’s Teflon appeal
Sommeliers are trying to find a niche for Bordeaux. I heard your podcast with Levi Dalton [about how you felt you’d invested so much time and energy in Bordeaux, and now believe it is largely irrelevant]. Many New Yorkers share that feeling about Bordeaux, their cellars are full of Bordeaux, they speculated a little on that. It became out of fashion and everyone has been jumping into Burgundy. It’s become popular and with the recent short vintages, the prices have gone crazy…but you still sell it.
Even so, people don’t drink by trends. They just want a good, heavy glass of red wine. We had the [La Croix de Gay] Pomerol with a food pairing and sold a lot. Plus we have a chef who is passionate about Bordeaux. He’s in heaven with Bordeaux.
On paying attention to the plate
We had a lobster lasagna with truffles and I paired it with a pear cider until the truffle changed. Eric pointed it out. He said the pairing didn’t work now. Nothing is more inconsistent than a truffle. Every truffle is different. I didn’t know that. No matter how good you are, you can always learn more and you learn everyday.
If you were eating dinner at Le Bernardin tonight, what would you order, and what would you drink with it?
A classic is the pounded tuna, the one dish that never changes: thinly pounded tuna with a little foie gras on a toasted baguette, chives, olive oil, lemon juice, shallots…I like that with really, really old white wine. As soon as you have a little oxidation in the wine, foie gras is perfect. Not that the foie gras comes out here, it’s like the butter on the bread. I’d drink an old white Burgundy, old grüner veltliner, or a little-bit-aged, oxidative Champagne.