We asked, and top sommeliers around the country answered with the names of the most talented newcomers to the restaurant scene. They singled out six sommeliers who are making a strong impression after fewer than four years as lead wine buyers.
What does it take to get a vote from the toughest of critics? Enthusiasm, tenacity, grace and professionalism, to start. Couple that with juggling other projects, long hours on the floor, the inevitable grunt work and furthering their own knowledge and educating others. Let us introduce you to our Best New Sommeliers of 2017.
It was a visit to Ten Bells in NYC that sealed it. “Within twenty minutes, I knew I wanted to open Bridge Street,” Justin King recalls. “Not that I wanted to replicate Ten Bells, but the vibe—it was like an elixir. The place exudes joie de vivre. It’s lively, sexy; if you are taking a third date to Ten Bells, you’re probably in a good spot.”
When it comes to training, everyone on staff gets the chance to taste all the wines he pours by the glass; they also gain access to frequent blind tastings and seminars. If someone decides to go for their Master Sommelier credentials, when they pass an exam along the way, he’ll cover the fee. “I wanted to do something that was part of me, and something for Michigan,” he explains. “I want people to do things here. I live here. I want to die here. I want to raise my kids here.”
This sommelier was featured in W&S October 2017.
photo by Jena McShane