The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2010

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Page 28 of 116

ON-PREMISE PATTER Attuned WHY ROB BiGeLOW IS THE IDEAL DIRECTOR OF WINE FOR ARIA RESORT & CASINO IN LAS VEGAS s someone who sampled a 1961 Château Margaux at age ten, created award- winning wine programs for numerous restaurants, served as wine director at Bellagio and was only the seventh American to pass the Master Sommelier examination on the fi rst try, Rob Bigelow, MS, is the ideal Director of Wine for Aria Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Overseeing a massive cellar and 16 sommeliers stationed at Aria’s nine fi ne-dining restaurants, he prides himself on better-than-average six-ounce pours and competitive bottle prices for customers. His philosophy on his profession is worth noting. “Yes, I’m a Master Sommelier and I have a good palate, but I’m also a business person,” he says. “I’m not just growing som- meliers at Aria; I’m growing wine business people and teaching them how to properly conduct the wine business. That’s why my number one rule, as far as buying wines is concerned, is that the price is never the price. There’s always a better price—all you have to do is ask.” to Market Demands A “And if there’s anything I did well in opening Aria,” he continues, “it was hiring other sommeliers. Everyone was excited about the opening, so I was able to choose very experienced, very polished, very professional sommeliers. But my job is also to identify diamonds in the rough, a few people with not a lot of experience but with great promise. In fact, I hired two people with zero sommelier experience, but they’re working under very experienced sommeliers in each of the rooms.” “We also had a relatively intense training session where I had the somms to myself for a couple of weeks; we strived to defl ate that perception of the uptight, snobby, inaccessible sommelier. I teach good professional wine ser- vice in a relaxed manner, so you’re profi cient technically in that you’re serving correctly, but you’re not so stiff that everybody’s nervous. Because at the end of the day, wine is fun; wine is meant to be enjoyed, and the sommelier is the intermediary to helping people enjoy wine. We’re the ambassadors.” story and photos by Richard Carleton Hacker Rob Bigelow, MS, Director of Wine, Aria Resort & Casino. At Aria’s sister property Vdara, in addition to sultry Bar Vdara with its curving designs and outdoor swings, Silk Road’s bar is perfect for a quick cocktail. 28 / the tasting panel / april 2010

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