The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2013

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A LONE STAR LIFE Sommelier Ryan Tedder works out his chops behind the bar at Ships Lounge in Dallas. Ships Ahoy DROPPING ANCHOR IN DALLAS TO SEE THE OLD AND THE NEW by Anthony Head / photo by Kirk Weddle I 'd wanted to catch up with Ryan Tedder for a while. I first met him last August at the annual TexSom gathering near Dallas, where Ryan earned the title of Texas's Best Sommelier. It was time to hear how his one-year hitch was going, so we recently met at Ships Lounge. Most everyone calls Ships a "dive bar," although I have much more respect for places that stand the test of time with grace and composure. Ships is a neighborhood bar, and it has anchored Dallas's Lower Greenville neighborhood for about 50 years. Current owner Charlie Hunt (you can call him Charlie Red) says Ships dates back to around 1950 or so. "Back then," he told me, "a 16-year-old could drink beer in a Dallas bar as long he behaved himself." Although times have changed (no 16-year-old can behave himself anymore), Ships hasn't. Inside is dark but not somber. The jukebox plays Motown and other oldies. Christmas lights provide a cozy ambiance. There's bottled and draft beer and boxed wine. It's cash only. "This place is awesome," Ryan said as we sat down for a couple rounds of Pabst Blue Ribbon. "But I don't know if I could work here—I'd just want to drink here instead." So far, Ryan said, his TexSom tenure has been a pretty good ride. In addition to hosting the Dallas Sommelier Society a couple times, last October he helped open one of the city's most anticipated restaurants, FT33, as General Manager and Sommelier. However, after getting the restaurant up and running, including coordinating regular Master Sommelier dinners there, Ryan decided to set sail. "It was a great experience," he assured me. "I think I learned more in five months there than I did in my last few years, especially with the slow food movement. And TexSom gave me the confidence to recommend off-the-radar varietals and producers, and it also provided the legitimacy to guide wine-lovers to places that they might not think to go on their own." But Ryan has other plans. A Certified Sommelier, he'll travel to Palm Beach this August to sit for his Advanced exams. And he's contemplating other wine-centric concepts for the Dallas area, like hosting private tastings and dinners, while always helping to educate Texas's next generation of wine experts. "We also need a bad-ass wine bar around here," he said. "Something totally wine-centric with some pretty good food and a laid-back vibe." Well, the Ships galley only serves potato chips— but it's definitely got the laid-back vibe down pat. Anchors away! 58  /  the tasting panel  /  april 2013 TequilaR

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