Top Somms Speak Their Minds

Andrew Fortgang

Le Pigeon, Portland, OR
“Burgundy doesn’t have to break the bank. Grand cru and marquee names are great, but there’s no reason to avoid the region just because you can’t afford those.”



Lee Campbell 

Reynard, Brooklyn, NY
“It’s clear that just about everyone that likes to dine out has caught the wine bug and is open to trying new things. I feel as though there used to be a delineation between wine geeks and sane people; now, everyone is getting in on the action.”


Shannon Tucker

Foreign Cinema, San Francisco
“Not every bottle has to be life-changing, but it should be enjoyable. Sometimes the most surprisingly amazing bottles are an out-of-the-way region, a less-lauded vintage, but on that day and in that moment it sings.”



Daniel Johnnes

The Dinex Group, New York City
“When pairing wine and food, I believe if you want a tannic Cabernet with your poached filet of sole, go for it. Knock yourself out. It’s not my position to say you’re wrong.”



Jeff Kellogg

Maialino, New York City
“There is a reason that Barolo has always been the most famous region in Italy. Barolo—especially Barolo with age—may not seem cheap right now, but I believe that in 5–10 years we will be laughing about how cheap it was in 2015.”



Steven Grubbs

Five & Ten, Atlanta
“The natural wine movement may be heading toward a crossroads. It seems we need more skilled producers who have honed the natural craft, and fewer that are making wines that are just naturally unsound, and thereby indistinguishable from one another.”



Robin Puricelli 

Foremost Wine Co., San Luis Obispo, CA
“If you like to stay in your comfort zone, ask your somm what’s comparable in profile, but from another region. It usually leads to excellent recommendations of regions and varieties you may not have had or heard of.”

Deborah Hansen

Taberna de Haro, Brookline, MA
“We are selling more Sherry than ever, which thrills me—I love leading the uninitiated into this unique, magical category.”



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Published on July 1, 2015
Topics: SommeliersWine Directors