The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2016

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52  /  the tasting panel  / may 2016 ERIN BROOKS Head Sommelier at Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, California What traits or skills do you believe are required to be a successful sommelier? I believe that successful sommeliers are great matchmakers. We help guests choose beverages they'll enjoy, within the ever-changing parameters of desired price, occasion and pairing with cuisine. This requires in-depth knowledge of the world's wine regions and products, but it also means you have to be a good listener. You oversee an extensive wine list at Bouchon. How often do you manage to touch base and re-taste your wines? I taste wine almost every day, whether it's a bottle currently offered on the list or I'm looking for a new selection. A great sommelier has to know his/her wine list backwards and forwards in order to successfully match wines for guests and be a great seller of wine. My job also involves educating the staff about the wines on our list, so I taste with them a few times a week. We've partnered with Chef's Roll & Somm's List, the global culinary and wine professional networks, to learn more about beverage experts from across the country. If you are a mixologist or wine professional interested in being featured here or want more information on Chef's Roll and Somm's List, please email PHOTO: MEG SMITH DANIEL TORAL Wine Director at 50 Eggs in Miami, Florida and Yardbird in Las Vegas, Nevada How would you describe the wine selection at 50 Eggs/ Yardbird? Miami has a small selec- tion that changes every other month, focusing on well- crafted wines that respect traditions and are food friendly. In Las Vegas, the list is almost three times as large and it doesn't change as often; we do small changes throughout the year and major changes only twice per year. The focus is the same, offering quality and value. What labels would you recommend for spring? I have been looking at lighter reds for the season, like the Dominio de Ventura "Pena do Lobo," a red-fruited Mencia from Ribeira Sacra in Northwestern Spain—I like it lightly chilled. I'm drinking the mineral, cold-climate Syrahs from Alain Graillot, specifically the Crozes- Hermitage with blue and black fruits with a peppery nose; it is vibrant and I can't stop drinking it. NATASHA BAHRAMI Owner of The Gin Room in St. Louis, Missouri Why do you think gin has been enjoying a renais- sance lately? Gin is a magical spirit. It is the spirit with the widest spectrum and depth of flavors available to manipu- late by both the distiller and the bartender. The emerging category of American dry gins for example, showcas- ing a milder juniper pres- ence and bountiful botanical bouquets are attracting audiences that previously dismissed the spirit. What is your perfect gin-based cocktail for summer? The moment the weather turns even remotely warm, we launch an extended Tom Collins and Gimlet list with a spectrum of gins. These classic cocktails allow so much room for interpretation; there is no end to the combinations of porch tippers you can whip up with your favorite gin. P HOTO: STARCHEFS PHOTO: NEELY BENN

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