RPM Seafood, a bright and bustling riverfront seafood restaurant in Chicago, launched The Sommelier Experience in 2021. Executive Chef Michael Coté offers a new six-course menu each day, and the wine team has the run of the cellar to find pairings.
A server greets each party of guests with a glass of sparkling wine, then escorts them through the kitchen, where a chef offers an amuse bouche to pair with it. On one night, it was a Hama Hama oyster topped with crème fraîche and American caviar to match Jansz sparkling rosé from Tasmania.
For Wine Director Joseph Lapi, the biggest pairing challenge is the surf and turf. “It’s always difficult to find one wine that goes with meat and fish or shellfish.” He chose a nebbiolo from Gattinara, the Vallana 2007 Boca, to accompany butter-poached Maine lobster tail with truffled Béarnaise sauce and grilled American Wagyu sirloin steak. Age had tamed nebbiolo’s hefty tannins, and the light-bodied wine was bursting with ripe black cherries, fresh earth and dried thyme. It paired equally well with the mineral-forward Wagyu sirloin and the sweet, rich lobster.
A highlight of The Sommelier Experience is the diversity of the wine pairings, ranging from mainstream—Bollig-Lehnert 2019 Riesling Kabinett Trittenheimer Apotheke paired with silky salmon tartare topped with crispy potatoes—to bucket list—Château d’Yquem 2006 with a nutty, chocolatey gianduja dessert.
The Sommelier Experience is available Tuesday through Saturday, with two seatings per night (6 and 8:30 p.m.).
This story appears in the print issue of Summer 2023.
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