The perfect setting for bubbles


As the date approaches for our 2nd Annual Bubbles Bash: Champagne Masqueradewe wanted to take a moment to focus on our spectacular host for this year’s event. Somehow, the Westgate Hotel manages to fly mostly below the radar. In fact, it’s one of San Diego’s best-kept secrets. However, we’re talking about one of the most luxurious buildings in Southern California.

Grand Lobby

The Westgate was designed to be evocative of Europe’s grand palaces, and it’s without a doubt the perfect place to take part in our unique array of sparkling wines from around the world. Not to mention that they’ll be poured alongside an amazing menu of  Hors Devours from The Westgate’s Executive Chef Fabrice Hardel! Here’s a peek:

Grassy Bar Oyster, Horseradish Cream

Hackleback Caviar and Blinis

Spot Prawn, Preserved Lemon, Cilantro 

Kurobuta Pork, Salsify, Burgundy Truffle, Larate Potatoes

Yellow Tail Sashimi, Ponzu, Sprout and Mango

Vegetable Tian, Heirloom Tomato Viniagrette

Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse with Blood Orange Marmalade

Parisian Macarons

As you can see, you really don’t want to miss the festivities! Click here to purchase your tickets now – early bird pricing lasts until November 23.


New Le Metro artwork is coming soon!

Over the past twelve months it’s been an immense pleasure to introduce you to the artwork of Elaine Chukan Brown, and more fun than I can say to collaborate with her. Last week’s release of Volume XVII: Curator’s Reserve represents a full calendar year that we’ve been working together, and we’ve decided that it’s time to switch things up.

Elaine’s portfolio of work is simply astonishing. And as well as her own writing and illustration, she’s recently contributed to World of Fine WineWine & Spirits, and Men’s Health. It’s a been a ridiculous honor to have her as part of Le Metro.

Tina, GUY, and I are excited to continue building a community of artists as well as wine professionals. And although I’ll begin by introducing you to a local San Diego artist who I hold dear, I’m looking forward to expanding our roster of collaborators to folks around the world.

Please join me in thanking Elaine for her invaluable contributions to Le Metro. And at the same time, start getting excited for the next surprise!

Aaron Epstein, Curator

Save the Date(s)!

Tickets are now on sale for our final Aboveground dinner of the year! Join us on Saturday October 18 from 5:00 – 7:30 pm as Turquoise Cellars hosts Le Metro. Click here to purchase your seat at the table. 

This intimate, family-style meal meal will feature Aaron’s selections from (yet-to-be-released) Volume XVII: Curator’s Reserve alongside a menu of tasty treats by Turquoise’s Chef Taylor. 

We’re also already preparing for our Annual Holiday Bubbles Bash, to be held on Friday December 5 at the incomparable Westgate Hotel in downtown San Diego. Mark your calendar, (buy your plane tickets?) and get ready for a Champagne Masquerade!

More details coming soon.

L'Instant Tattinger

“Summer of Riesling” food pairings

It’s a true honor to share with you the food pairing recommendations for the Rieslings in Volume XV, as they come directly from famed German wine importer Rudi Wiest and his San Diego-based team. We’re incredibly fortunate to have Rudi as part of our own local wine community, and even more so given the theme of our current release. He’s one of the nation’s foremost experts on German Riesling, and I can’t thank him enough for dedicating his own time to Le Metro.

The true glory of Riesling such as these is best experienced with food, so be sure to check out Rudi and the gang’s tasting notes and suggestions below. And join us for our all-Riesling dinner on 8/28 at Counterpoint San Diego! We’ve saved the last bottles from this edition to open alongside Cam Fomby’s delicious food. I hope you can make it.

Aaron Epstein, Curator

1. 2012 Ettore Germano Hérzu Langhe Riesling: Nose of melon, lemon zest, butter, and chalky stone. Layered on the palate, juicy acidy, medium weight with kiwi, lime and white pepper spice with a refreshing citrus finish.

Suggested pairings:  Salads with vinaigrette, light chicken dishes, white fish, or with goat cheese.

2. 2011 Domaine Ostertag, Riesling D’Alsace: Bright rich nose including caramelized peaches.  On the palate there are darker fruits, peach pit, and papaya mixed with other exotic yellow fruits.  Spicy background and floral hints with a spicy cleansing finish.

Suggested pairings: Rich fish dishes such as salmon and butterfish. Pork schnitzel, vegetables or chicken with a light sauce such as a mango salsa.

3. 2012 Rebholz, Estate Riesling trocken (dry): Ripe mineral driven citrus laced with apricot & peach. Typical for a Riesling grown on colored sandstone; very lively, good tension and ripe acids.

Suggested pairings: Optimal with fish (simple preparations) and any number of light appetizer dishes. Also a great glass on a hot day! 

4. 2011 Tatomer Riesling ‘Kick-on Ranch:’ Bright giving nose, elegant white peach, and spicy white pepper. Nice volume on the palate, spicy and herbal with blueberry and citrus and a salty mineral finish.  Excellent alcohol integration, a very balanced wine.

Suggested pairings:  Seaweed salad, grilled vegetables, medium weight fish dishes and light sushi preparations.

5. 2012 Love and Squalor Riesling: Herbal nose, some citrus, dark peach and plumb.  A candied dark cheery finish.

Suggested parings:  Pork schnitzel and pastas with creamy sauces.

6. 2007 J.J. Prüm, Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Kabinett: The 2007 vintage, also known as the “hang time vintage” produced wines with amazing physiological ripeness with constituent tartaric acid in excess of 70%. These are wines with great ageing potential. As far as pairing this Riesling, probably at least 50g/l RS. First, because of the low alcohol level a wonderful aperitif and you can drink lots of it without getting “blitzed!”

Suggested pairings: Pairing the wine with food actually quite a few possibilities: dishes with mild Jaipur Curry, light Thai dishes, fruit driven light fish preparations as in the Caribbean Isles, and fresh cheeses such as Curd cheeses, double cream cheese, Robiola, Ricotta, Mozzarella, and Mascerpone etc.

Volume XIV Food Pairings

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago when I interviewed Chris Broomell from Vesper Vineyards – who provided this month’s food pairing suggestions – he really saved the day when I was assembling this collection of domestic wines. There were a lot of options on the table (literally) and some tough calls to be made, as well as my son crawling around underfoot. It was an overwhelming tasting, and I’m not sure how I would have handled it without Chris. I’m thrilled to share with you his culinary advice for the wines that I selected. Thanks, Chris!

From Sea to Shining Sea features a truly unique set of wines, and I couldn’t be more proud of this one. It was even more fun thanks to Chris’s involvement. Check out what Dave McIntyre from the Washington Post had to say about this edition on his blog, DM WineLine!

Aaron Epstein, Curator

1. La Garagista, 2013 Coup de Foudre Pétillant Naturel, Vermont: Light up some charcoal in the BBQ and once ready throw some halved peaches on to enjoy with these bubbles. A great way to kick off any summer BBQ.

2. Ravines Wine Cellars, 2012 Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, New York: Time to shuck some oysters to let the flavors play together on this one.

3. McPherson Cellars, 2013 Les Copains Rosé, Texas High Plains, Texas: Thinking about some prosciutto wrapped melon with this rosé is just making me thirsty.

4. Wollersheim Winery, 2013 Domaine du Sac, Lake Wisconsin Viticultural Area, Wisconsin: What comes to mind for a glass of this is sitting on my deck on a warm summer evening with BBQ Chipotle chicken and bell peppers.

5. Ankida Ridge, 2012 Pinot Noir, Virginia: Mmm… Lamb… Pan-seared lamb chops!

6. Creekside Cellars, 2011 Cabernet Franc “Franc:” Colorado Grand Valley, Colorado: Something about this wine just had me imagining a Santa Maria tri tip under some oaks withs a bunch of friends enjoying the day.

Chris Broomell, Winemaker, Vesper Vineyards


An interview with Vesper Vineyards’ Chris Broomell

When I was preparing to taste the samples for Volume XIV: From Sea to Shining Sea, I had a moment of panic. I wasn’t sure how I would even get from one end of the table to the other; it was literally covered with bottles, not to mention my eight-month old son crawling around beneath it. So I called my friend Chris Broomell, winemaker at Vesper Vineyards, and invited him to join me. As well as a fine palate and strong (yet humbly-expressed) opinions, Chris possesses a gentle demeanor that has a uniquely calming effect on both myself and the baby.

And thank God I did. This was easily one of the most dynamic collections of wines I have ever sat down to taste, full of surprises and overflowing with possibilities. Selecting six wines for this edition was not easy, although it was simplified somewhat by Chris’s company and conversation. When all was said and done, who else was I going to ask to suggest food pairings for these wines?

I’m excited to share Chris’s culinary recommendations with you later this week, but as usual I wanted to start by introducing Chris himself. I hope you enjoy the interview below – check back soon for the pairings!

Aaron Epstein, Curator

PS: Volume XIV is already sold out, but tickets for our Aboveground dinner at Cowboy Star on July 31 are available here.

AE: Tell me about that pivotal moment when you decided to dedicate your life to wine. (Come on, we’ve all got one…)

CB: Thinking back, it has to be the first day of de-stemming red at Jaffurs Wine Cellars for the 2006 harvest. I had a strong interest in wine before that, but that day sealed the deal. 

AE: What food(s) did you find most comforting as a child?

CB: Lamb, pasta and fresh squeezed orange juice.

AE: And what does “comfort food” mean to you today?

CB: Anything that makes me smile!

AE: Do you have a go-to “house wine” that you always have stocked at home?

CB: I tend to explore a lot of different wines, so we don’t really have one. We’re currently working our way through several back-issues of Le Metro. Does the rotating keg of Societe beer work for our house beverage?

AE: When you’re planning a meal, do you generally develop it around the food, or the wine?

CB: It usually starts with the food and then I’ll go through our cellar to find some fun wines to go along with it. 

AE: Is there a dish that you’re famous for among your friends?

CB: Not really, I haven’t cooked anything except pasta & tacos in a while.

AE: How do you decide where to eat when you’re traveling?

CB: I’ll ask people who live there for suggestions or wander around to find places I’ve not heard of.

AE: What is your favorite place to shop for food?

CB: [My wife] Alysha normally gets the food, but I like getting stuff from our garden and other farms. When the time allows I’ll go to some of the farmers markets in San Diego. I have a weird anxiety in stores.

AE: Imagine yourself as a culinary ingredient or grape variety.

CB: What would you be, and why? First variety in my mind is Grenache. I asked Alysha this question and she said, “Carignan.” Both have mutants (noir, gris & blanc) which I absolutely love! And someday I’ll get my hands on Carignan Gris and Blanc vines (figures crossed). I love how the vines act and grow with the right care and the wines can just be beautiful in there expression.

AE: Would you consider your approach to food & wine pairing to be more scientific or intuitive?

CB: Intuitive! I’m always trying to push the envelope and shatter preconceived notions.



Back to the beginning – an interview with Maurice DiMarino

This week feels like the calm before the storm here at Le Metro; we’re gearing up for our Aboveground dinner tomorrow night at Kitchen 4140 and also for the upcoming release of our patriotic July collection. As I take advantage of the rare lull and reflect on our first year, I thought it would be fun to also take a moment here on the blog to go back to the beginning.

When we sent out Le Metro Volume I in June 2013 it was immediately clear that something was missing from the content: food pairings! So we sought an outside-of-the-box way to approach this, and one that would also incorporate the sense of community that brought Tina, GUY, and I together in the first place.

We decided to recruit outside help from those wiser than ourselves, and to start locally with our friend Maurice DiMarino from the Cohn Restaurant Group. Maurice is a true gentleman, and he possesses one of the finest palates in Southern California. He’s also deeply dedicated to wine education; his blog Maurice’s Wine Cru is both informative and a hell of a lot of fun.

Thank you Maurice for all of your support, and for offering up culinary advice for Volume II: The Dark Side of Sancerre a year ago this July.

Aaron Epstein, Curator

AE: Tell me about that pivotal moment when you decided to dedicate your life to wine. (Come on, we’ve all got one…)

MD: Two things. One was related to food.  I was a vegetarian for 6 years and I was working as a server at Foreign Cinema in SF.  The Chef came out with duck l’Orange for the staff to try, I did and never went back to vegetarianism. I quickly learned that food and wine were one in the same. The second, was the first time I sold a bottle of Chateau Rayas Chateauneuf-du-pape to a 2 top and they gave me a taste.  Frickin delicious! And they left a $100 tip.

AE: What food(s) did you find most comforting as a child?

MD: Quesadillas, Beans and Rice.

AE: And what does “comfort food” mean to you today?

MD: Coming home to my wife cooking Brazilian Feijoada.

AE: Do you have a go-to “house wine” that you always have stocked at home?

MD: Several. Currently it is Sincero Ribera del Duero, Casa Lapostolle Cuvee Alexandra Merlot, and there is always a Riesling in the fridge.

AE: When you’re planning a meal, do you generally develop it around the food, or the wine? 

MD: I develop it around what I can find in the fridge and then go crazy.  I always have wine at home so I usually drink something while cooking and once the dish is done, I go back and pull something that works with the food.

AE: Is there a dish that you’re famous for among your friends? 

MD: I don’t like to do the same thing over again.  However if you were to ask my wife, she would say I use a lot of Balsamic vinegar and for some reason Achiote always sneaks into the dish.

AE: How do you decide where to eat when you’re traveling?

MD: Ask the local restaurant people.

AE: What is your favorite place to shop for food?

MD: Costco, I have to feed a family of five and I always find something unique.  However for cooking a special dinner I go to the nearby whole foods. 

AE: Imagine yourself as a culinary ingredient or grape variety. What would you be, and why?

MD:  Agave.  It is my Mexican roots.  Very versatile, can be used to sweeten, heal wounds and make Tequila.  I can get along with anybody, I care for people and I like to have a good time.

AE: Would you consider your approach to food & wine pairing to be more scientific or intuitive?

MD: Both, I follow the basic rules, but I also like to break them. It is the only way to see if something works or not.

Volume XIII Food Pairings

When dealing with grape varieties that are hard to pronounce, it’s helpful to sample them alongside the comfort of good food. Luckily, this month we had my friend Mike Tesarek of Blue Danube Wine Company and Sacred Thirst Selections on hand to help recommend proper culinary accompaniment for the Austro-Hungarian wines from Make Wine, Not War.

If you’d like to learn more about Mike make sure you check out my interview with him here. Buon appetito!

Aaron Epstein, Curator

Geyerhof, Gruner Veltliner Wild Wux: Richly textured with detailed acidity to compliment Scallops with fresh squeezed lemon. Have any left? Slice some Humboldt fog goat cheese from northern CA for a tangy yet rich marriage.

Erzsébet Pince, 2011 Király Dűlő: An extremely versatile wine with subtle salinity to match a plate of prosciutto and melon to start then bring it to the table for lightly seasoned roast pork.

Juris, 2011 Saint Laurent Selection: Pure and fruit driven with a gentle, easy to drink me mouthfeel.  I’d holster my usual favorite of Loire Cabernet Franc in favor of this wine for some grilled sausages.

Esterbauer, 2009 Tüke Bikavér: Full bodied energetic and personable blend that needs a sturdy traditional Hungarian goulash to do it justice.

Bock, 2011 Villányi Kékfrankos: A medium bodied balance of peppery and savory fruit make me look forward to a meatless Monday of grilled Portobello mushrooms or recork your Pinot Noir and grab a Kékfrankos to go with your Tuna grilled or sashimi.

Rosenhof, 2010 Welschriesling TBA: Opulence, texture, and refreshing acidity in this beautiful dessert wine would be an unexpected good match for poached pears in red wine.  Firm yet ripe Bosc pears would work best.

Mike Tesarek, Blue Danube Wine Company & Sacred Thirst Selections

Food Pairing Profile: Mike Tesarek (Volume XIII)

The food pairing recommendations for Volume XIII: Make Wine, Not War are coming from a gentleman who has been critical to my own recent wine education as well as to the creation of this collection of wines: Mike Tesarek. As the Southern California representative for the Blue Danube Wine Company, Mike is on a crusade to introduce the virtually unknown (yet undisputedly delicious) wines of Central Europe to the United States. And as if that weren’t enough, Mike is also a partner in Sacred Thirst Selections, from whom we have sourced some of Le Metro’s most fascinating French wines.

I’ll be sharing Mike’s culinary suggestions here on the blog next week, so stay tuned! In the meantime, I hope this interview helps you get to know him. (He’s a good man, and thorough.)

Aaron Epstein, Curator

AE: Tell me about that pivotal moment when you decided to dedicate your life to wine. (Come on, we’ve all got one…)

MT: When I was working as a server in the mid to late 90’s.  I wanted to explore more than just the same domestic wines I served every night.  I have always wanted a challenge in wine and food and I wasn’t being challenged. Yet.

AE: What food(s) did you find most comforting as a child? 

MT: A tough one. The same foods over and over bored me. Shake and bake chicken, spaghetti, hamburgers were only a means to an end.  I was trapped with a desire to explore and did once I left Montana.

AE: And what does “comfort food” mean to you today?

MT: Sushi, Mediterranean cuisine, and variety and nuance in food in its freshest form.

AE: Do you have a go-to “house wine” that you always have stocked at home?

MT: Not at all.  I could drink a different wine in every single glass.  Comfort in variety.

AE: When you’re planning a meal, do you generally develop it around the food, or the wine? 

MT: I go both ways depending on the setting.  For dinner parties food is usually developed around the wine.  For a simple weeknight dinner I choose the appropriate pairing based on what is open already, as there is always something open. 

AE: Is there a dish that you’re famous for among your friends? 

MT: I rarely cook the same thing twice and love surprises in the kitchen as much as from the cellar so always expect the unexpected when coming to my house.  You will have wine and food off the beaten path.

AE: How do you decide where to eat when you’re traveling?

MT: Asking the locals is always the best way to go.  If language challenged I would do diligent research and pick a smaller restaurant with personality.

AE: What is your favorite place to shop for food? 

MT: Farmers markets are the best for me. Having grown up on a farm I appreciate the hard work it takes to be a farmer.  Tasting, conversing, feeling the honesty.

AE: Imagine yourself as a culinary ingredient or grape variety. What would you be, and why? 

MT: If I could choose only one it would be tough but… Riesling.  So versatile at the table with food.  It can be electric and tongue tingling dry or can create the best dessert wine ever.  A very transparent grape and a characteristic I try to emulate. 

AE: Would you consider your approach to food & wine pairing to be more scientific or intuitive? 

MT: The most exciting part of pairing for me is experimentation.  Trying all the wines with each food is fun.  There can be a little bit of both for me and the basis being based on the body of the food and wine being similar.


VIDEO: “Make Wine, Not War” Release

We’re kicking off our newest edition with our first-ever release video!

Here, Curator Aaron sheds a bit of light on what’s inside Le Metro Volume XIII: Make Wine, Not War. This collection is shipping on Monday, and there are only a couple of boxes left. So let us know if you’d like one!

Volume XII Food Pairings


To be honest, in my own household it is unlikely that rosés this delicious will still be in the glass when dinner is served – especially during a San Diego heat wave. But I hope that you’ll do better than I at exercising the virtue of patience, as all six of these bottles will surely benefit from the companionship of food. Especially if you take the culinary advice of Jill and Steve Matthiasson, below, who provided the food pairing recommendations for this collection (as well as setting aside some of their own absolutely killer rosé for inclusion).

Here are the Matthiassons’ suggestions on what to pair with the rosés in Volume XII, and If you missed my interview with Jill and Steve last week, this link will take you there. Thanks so much to both of them for being part of this month’s Le Metro adventure! It’s been such a pleasure to have them on board.

Aaron Epstein, Curator

Matthiasson, 2013 Napa Valley Rosé: Delicate, savory, and slightly creamy, with herbs of provence and hard unripe fruits, this rosé is great with a vegetable fritatta, grilled veggies (even asparagus), sliced salami, lots of different cheeses, and classic light french food like dover sole almondine.

Arnot-Roberts, 2013 Rosé: With its musk-melon/honeydew character and intense salinity in the long finish, this rosé can stand up to summertime grilled foods, like veggies (spring onions, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes) with some char marks on them drizzled with olive oil, or roasted peppers on toast with burnt edges, or gilled fish or chicken. Heartier summer vegetarian dishes like bean salads, hummus, or nut spreads would be great with the Arnot-Roberts rosé, too.

Pasini San Giovanni, 2013 Chiaretto: Intense strawberry, a lot of concentration of sweet fruit in the palate, but a steely acid finish–this rosé can stand up to cured meats. It would be good with the classic prosciutto and melon, but almost any charcuterie would be great. Country ham with asparagus or simple sopressata with dried fruits, nuts, and cheese.

Domaine de Fontsainte, 2013 Gris de Gris Rosé: The interesting peachy character and softness of the wine makes me think about salads, especially salads with fruits and nuts. Its a fairly round rosé, with light body, and would be delicious with a spring salad, especially as local salad greens are getting a touch bitter as the weather warms up–the softness of the rosé would relax the bitterness of the salad, rather than accentuating it.

J.K. Carriere, 2013 Glass White Pinot Noir: A lovely delicate wine, like drinking a salad of barely ripe nectarines and citrus segments, and fresh oregano sprinkled on top, maybe a few rose petals. In fact that would be a great pairing. A really light and refreshing wine, nice on its own, or with simple pure food, goat cheese and baguette, fresh fruit, raw crudité, or al dente steamed vegetables with a little aioli.

J. Lasalle, NV Premier Cru Brut RoséThis rustic fruity champagne, full of raspberry, earth, and yeast, would be great with a quiche, or bruschetta, old school baked brie, or crudités.

Jill & Steve Matthiasson, Matthiasson Wines


Food Pairing Profile: Jill & Steve Matthiasson (Volume XII)

Now that we’re more than one year into Le Metro, I can officially say that one of the most gratifying parts about this whole project has been the opportunity to not only share the wines made by winemakers whom I admire, but to also collaborate with them creatively.

Volume XII: Stop and Smell the Rosé has provided me with the chance to work with one of the most respected wineries in California (and, of course, to drink their wine myself!) and it is with immense pleasure that I introduce you to Jill and Steve Matthiasson.

The 2013 Matthiasson Rosé was the first wine selected for this collection – in fact, my faith in the Matthiassons is such that I chose to include the wine before it had even been bottled. I hope that you enjoy the wine as much as I do, and that this interview helps you get to know the people behind it.

Check back here next week for Jill and Steve’s food pairing recommendations for the wines from Volume XII!

Aaron Epstein, Curator

Jill & Steve Matthiasson

AE: Tell me about that pivotal moment when you decided to dedicate your life to wine. (Come on, we’ve all got one…) 

SM: I became very interested in alcohol and food as a teenager—alcohol to get into an altered state, and food because I was into cycling and gardening, and that connection between nutrition, healthy produce, and European traditions gelled. By college in the 80s I was into wine, which was the natural progression given those interests (which grew to include reading the beatnik writers, who loved their wine), but I came to “dedicate my life to it” a few years later, after working in my first vineyard, which caused everything to come together. Standing in the vineyard, my path was clear.

AE: What food(s) did you find most comforting as a child?

SM: The top of the list would be tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches, macaroni and cheese baked with sausage and tomatoes, and the Icelandic dessert Panakukker, which are buckwheat crepes filled with jam and whipped cream.

AE: And what does “comfort food” mean to you today?

SM: The classic “comfort food” formula of familiarity combined with simple flavors and lots of fat and umami really works for me. I don’t think it’s cultural, it must be how we are wired. Nature, not nurture. I truly believe that wine “balance” is more physiological than cultural as well, which is why I think the current low acid/high alcohol trend is a fad, and that we will return to balanced wines. 

AE: Do you have a go-to “house wine” that you always have stocked at home? 

JM & SM: In our case we almost never have the same wine twice—the world of wine is so diverse that each wine moment is an opportunity to learn and explore. That said, we go through a heck of a lot of our own rose’ every summer. It’s low alcohol and refreshing, which is critical for  a house wine. 

AE: When you’re planning a meal, do you generally develop it around the food, or the wine?

JM & SM: We try to keep enough different wines on hand that we can plan the meal around the produce that happens to be fresh, seasonal, and available at that moment, and choose the wine accordingly. Tonight was grilled fava beans and lamb chops with a big salad, so we chose a Northern Rhone-style California Syrah. 

AE: Is there a dish that you’re famous for among your friends? 

JM & SM: We love to get people together over an entire animal. An asador lamb, or a pig in the Caja China, or a goat in a pit. Friends bring sides and wines, and we eat and drink our way into the night. 

AE: How do you decide where to eat when you’re traveling? 

JM & SM: Our situation is a little specific, since we like to experience restaurants that carry our wines. Within that group of options, however, we rely heavily on word of mouth from people in the restaurant business. We love places where people in the hospitality industry get excited to eat—the food is usually unpretentious but incredibly well-executed.

AE: What is your favorite place to shop for food? 

SM: In order: the garden, direct from farmers, the farmers market, ethnic shops, independent specialty markets, and finally high-end grocery stores like Whole Foods. When I go into a normal supermarket I get completely disoriented…where is all the food??

AE: Imagine yourself as a culinary ingredient or grape variety. What would you be, and why?

SM: This is a tough question. I posed it to our younger son Kai, and he said bread dough with lots of nuts. I had been thinking curry powder.

AE: Would you consider your approach to food & wine pairing to be more scientific or intuitive?

SM: All of my cooking, winemaking, and food and wine pairing is intuitive, but is based on a scientific understanding of what is happening. I’m a big believer in establishing a solid basis in the fundamentals of how things work, and then using that foundation in an intuitive manner. So for food and wine pairing I think about the nuts and bolts, like acidity or bitterness in the wine or the food, but then let my imagination guide which wine to reach for within the general “scientific” parameters I’ve considered.


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