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.

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.

 

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.

 

Food Pairing Profile: Tami Wong (Volume XI)

“This one time, at Pinot camp…” 

When I arrived in San Diego in 2012, the lovely Tami Wong was one of the first wine folks that I had the fortune to connect with. I was immediately struck by Tami’s deep passion for wine – and her incredible palate – and since getting to know her better my respect and affection have only grown. Now she has control of her own wine list over at brand-new and highly anticipated Juniper & Ivy Restaurant, and it is undoubtedly among the most dynamic in town.

It’s been clear to me since Tami and I first tasted together than one of her favorite regions is The Loire Valley; in fact, I’ve come to see her smiling face in my mind’s eye any time I catch a whiff of Chenin. So when I was due to select a sommelier to come up with food pairing suggestions for this month’s Le Metro edition, The Lure of the Loire, it was a pretty easy call to make. All that remained to be seen was if Tami herself would be able to make the time to collaborate with me given her (very) full-time job.

In the end, Tami not only offered culinary recommendations for our current release, she also opened up some space for Le Metro at the hottest new restaurant in town. So keep your eyes on this blog! Tickets will go on sale next week for our upcoming Aboveground dinner at Juniper & Ivy on Thursday, April 24, and Tami’s food pairing recommendations will soon be online.

Personally, I can’t even wait that long – I’m taking my family to Juniper & Ivy for dinner tonight.

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…)

TW: One night early in my tenure at 3rd Corner, my GM Alex gave me a crate of white Burgundies and told me to check them out with a book, a tasting grid and a spit bucket. They blew my mind because a)this is chardonnay? Wow! And b)they were all from the same tiny little area of France and were all so different. I haven’t been interested in much else since.

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

TW: My mom’s lasagna and my Grandma Wong’s bao, which are the steamed Chinese dumplings that have the sweet red filling with barbecued pork and other goodness. Grandma Wong also made Chinese sausage and rice that we put soy sauce on and put down in quantity. 

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

TW: I love any kind of pasta. When I really feel out of sorts, I need Chinese food. That always gets me back on track.

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

TW: I always have different wines, but they are usually light bodied, high acid whites or rosés. They tend to be Old World.

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

TW: I get a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) from Be Wise Ranch, so I start with the vegetable in the fridge, then go to protein, then wine.

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

TW: I found this recipe for a Watermelon Gazpacho on Epicurious that was a Cat Cora. It’s so fresh and summery. I’ve taken it to multiple gatherings and it is always a hit.

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

TW: My husband likes to research online, but when left to my own devices, I just go for a walk and let the place find me. When we went to Spain, our plane landed around 8am. We put our stuff in the hostel and went searching for breakfast. Mike asked me, “How will we know where to go?” I said “We will know.” Not ten minutes later, we came upon the Museo del Jamon. A museum of ham? Yes please!! It was magical.

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

TW: I like funky little neighborhood markets. We live right by Gala and Food Bowl, which has a great butcher. I like to make the journey to North Park Produce, which is a jalal market and super cheap. Ranch 99 of course for Asian goods. Nothing sets off a string of “What is this?” from a toddler like a Chinese market! Half the time I don’t have the answer but that is the fun.

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

TW: I would be syrah because it works well in both warm and cool climates. Aussie shiraz was my gateway wine. It is friendly, dark, and sweet. When I discovered Northern Rhone syrah, my world changed. That wine has so many non-fruit characteristics with all the flowers and stones. Syrah is full bodied, has great depth of character and complexity and ages so gracefully!

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

TW: I think of my approach to pairing as academic. I read a lot about pairing and make decisions based on tradition. This one time, at Pinot Camp, I took the Zing! Pairing seminar and that is a more scientific approach. At the end of the day, I would have to say that I pair intuitively.

Food Pairing Profile: Joanie Bonfiglio Karapetian (Volume X)

This month’s collection, California Soil, Italian Soul, comes straight from the heart. These six delicious, impossible-to-find wines are all from my home state of California, and produced from some of my favorite Italian varieties. So where else was I to turn for food pairings but to one of my most beloved Italian-American wine geeks?

Joanie Bonfiglio Karapetian is Southern California’s champion of Italian wine; she is herself equal parts Italian and Californian, and she lived and studied in Bologna, Italy as I did. She sells some of the most exciting imports in the state as a representative of AI Selections, and her blog – “Italian Wine Geek” – comforts me every time I find myself missing Italia. It was so much fun to share my interview questions with Joanie and to read her responses. Check back soon for her food pairings recommendations for our current selections!

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…)

JK: After I graduated from the University of Bologna I returned home to California without a clue as to what I would do next.  A degree in Comparative Literature and that year studying semiotics with Umberto Eco cemented my passion for language and literature, but convinced me that I was not cut out for a career in academics.  Luckily I found a local businessman in Southern California who was looking for a bilingual Italian-speaking-secretary of sorts, to help him with his budding Italian wine import company. At the time I knew nothing about wine, except for Lambrusco and Pignoleto, which we drank in the trattorie of Bologna, as “vino sfuso” on tap out of clunky glass carafes.

I spent 4 years working for this company, getting to know the producers and their wines, and I found a deep-rooted connection there.  It was a revelation- my passion for literature and art and language all had roots in the same place as these funky Italian wines.  Erbaluce from Caluso is a part of Piemonte’s history, just as much as Dante is part of Toscana’s antiquity.  These wines are a part of human history in Italy, just like Michelangelo’s sculptures and Botticelli’s paiting.  However, the fascinating part about wine is that this history is ALIVE today in the cultivation of these varietals.

I was totally convinced- this was where I needed to be!

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

JK: I didn’t realize that this was my ultimate childhood comfort food until I was in college and I would go home to visit my mom.  I always wanted her to make a “Mommy Sandwich”… Toasted English muffin with a fried egg and Canadian bacon.  Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, like a hug from Mom.

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

JK: Today I find food most comforting when somebody else is preparing it for me!

I love stopping by Terroni in Los Angeles around noon.  Max Stefanelli will almost always try to feed me something.  A pizza, a porchetta sandwich… what a beautiful thing in the middle of all that traffic and chaos and noise, to have somebody offer you a second to sit down and share a quick meal together.  Positively civilized.

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

JK: I like bubbles in general as “go-to” wines… sparkling wines make people happy, and they go with everything. Champagne is definitely my favorite region, but price points from that area have led me to explore other bubble-growing zones.  I love Franciacorta for example- I always have a cold bottle of Ca’ del Bosco in the fridge.  It’s the law of the land.

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

JK: This depends on what day of the week it is.  During the week when I come home from work with a bag of open bottles, I usually have something I want to drink with my dinner from that day’s sales calls.  In this case I am inspired by the wine and I end up cooking something to go with the wine. (By the way, the answer can always be the Mommy sandwich.  Eggs and pork- also go with everything)

Other times, if I have a great ingredient on hand, I like to think about which special bottle I will open to go with the food.  For example, if my friend Erik Sun has hunted down a wild boar, there will definitely be Sangiovese or Nebbiolo on hand!

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

JK: I don’t know if I’m famous for it, but my favorite dish to make is a simple roasted chicken.  It is a comforting dish I think everyone relates to (except for you vegetarians- you can have a salad.)  I like to throw a bunch of root vegetables and whole garlic heads under the chicken while it roasts. Season everything really well with salt and pepper, maybe a bit of thyme or rosemary. This makes the house smell amazing and cooks everything together in one dish. Simplicity is key.

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

JK: I do copious amounts of research before travelling- especially regarding where to eat!  I feel so lucky to be a part of the food & wine industry- hospitality among this business is unparalleled.  For people like me who really appreciate and value a great meal, being linked in to other people in the business is so rewarding.  I love supporting good people crafting excellent menus and wine lists!

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

JK: My mom’s family has been in the California farming business for two generations now. I love supporting local agriculture in southern California by shopping at farm stands and Farmer’s Markets… however I live in the suburbs near the beach so this isn’t really practical most of the time.  I do buy local from wherever I shop, and thankfully some of the smaller chains are starting to make that easier to do.  Support small farms!  It’s the only way we will be able to feed ourselves as a country in the future.

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

JK: This is tough.  Requires a special kind of reverse-anthropomorphic-thinking that I am not quite sure my brain is capable of.  What grape am I?  I suppose on some days I aspire to be Nebbiolo, but I only make it to Concord…

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

JK: I am definitely more intuitive than anything else.  Wine is emotional for me- when I have a special bottle I save it for a time when I can open it with food prepared by people I care about, and share it with friends.  In fact, I think I pair wines with specific people before anything else.  I have a bottle of 1985 Vernaccia di Oristano in my cellar waiting for my friend Geoff.  I find things at shops and think, “I should buy this for the next dinner with the Earlys or the Loudys..”  I have a bottle of 1976 Produttori Barbaresco on hand that I carried back from Italy, earmarked for my husband… and so on.

Food Pairing Profile: Steven Morgan (Volume IV)

There is no better pairing than to the person who you are dining with.” – Steve Morgan

Like any creator (or parent), I do my best to treat each edition of Le Metro equally, to infuse every one with my own love and energy. It’s important to me each individual collection be in balance, both internally and in regards to its siblings. But it’s inevitable that every once in a while one theme that I’m working on will carry me to new heights of excitement.

Such was the case last fall when I was developing Volume IV: Volcanic Vines. The volcanic soil of southern Italy – particularly that of Sicily’s Mount Etna – is some of the most alluring terrain on the planet for wine lovers. (Not to mention the romance of the local culture, which I’m certainly not the first person to enjoy writing about.) Once the wines were selected, I knew that I needed some serious help to properly showcase their distinctive minerality.

So I recruited one of the big guns of wine & food pairing: my old sommelier buddy Steve Morgan. After years working in some of New York’s greatest restaurants – including Del Posto and the Tribeca Grill - Steve is now part of the wine team at Alinea Restaurant in Chicago, where pairing is religion. When he received the samples that we sent him he was (at least) as excited as I was about them, and he provided  some captivating tasting notes along with the culinary advice for this collection. You can download the full PDF here for free! (And by the way, if you’re interested in purchasing a print of this edition or any other, please let us know.)

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…)

SM: I always wanted to be a writer and though I enjoyed restaurants I was constantly denying that wine or restaurants were going to be the path I would take.  But needless to say breaking into the comic book/children story writing world is not something easily done.  So my parents decided to have their 35th Anniversary in Italy and invited my brother and I to join for a part of it.  I had been enjoying my study of wine and food and figured that if I was going to go to Italy I might as well find a way to work somewhere and decide if this is something I might like to do.  I was fortunate enough to be connected to Elisabetta Foradori who invited me to work for her.  I think that in my mind I also thought that this would be a great opportunity to focus on writing away from all the noise of the city.  The first day I arrived completely clueless of what my job was going to be, but she asked that I come on a tour and tasting with her and two German guests who were visiting the vineyard.  Watching her walk the vineyards, touch the vines, and the earth and how eloquently she spoke of her wines, her history, her quest for Teroldego.  I was like, ‘Fuck! This is a real life superhero!’  And I got that introducing wines by people like her was storytelling, and that there were mythic people like her running vineyards all over the world, and that I might be able to tell their stories.  The wines were also awesome, but I knew they would be just by seeing her in her vineyards. 

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

SM: Amusingly it was a drink that was most comforting.  Apple Juice.  I used to refuse to drink anything else.  Food-wise, I would say my dad made a hell of a good fried salami sandwich.  Rye bread, yellow mustard, and fried salami.  

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

SM: Unfussy food.  Few ingredients prepared well.  Ethnic food. Especially when I was living in NYC comfort food was also whatever was prepared for a potluck dinner party.  It was whatever brought a great group of people together.  It can also be found in a restaurant that makes you feel like you could return once every week or two. 

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

SM: Dry or Off Dry Riesling, Petit Chablis/Bourgogne blanc, Friuli and Alto Adige whites.  Cheap, crisp, high-acid whites. 

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

SM: I used to build a meal around the wine, but I have been smarter about my purchasing lately.  Focusing on having a wide selection because if I’m opening a bottle, I am usually hosting.  And there is no better pairing than to the person who you are dining with. I also want to make sure it’s something that I enjoy as well.  So if they want red wine with the fish I am making, than I want them to be happy and not to force something on them that they may not enjoy.

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

SM: I am fortunate to have stolen many recipes from the chefs in my life.  Friends and family.  Some of them are chefs and some stole them from others themselves.  A personal favorite that I will use on a date when looking to impress is actually an old Blackbird recipe that in the pre-internet days my mom got Paul Kahan to write for her.  Halibut with roasted mushrooms, spinach, and basil puree.  It takes 20 minutes and at the same time knocks it out of the park.  Also is a good foil to some dry riesling. 

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

SM: Talk to food and wine friends first, and then if they can’t help I  find a place to grab a glass of wine and start chatting up the staff.

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

SM: Farmer’s markets.  The amount of color and flavor is overwhelming.    

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

SM: First and foremost it would be an Italian variety. What makes most Italian wines to me is a sense of harmony in conflict.  Aggressive acid and tannin.  Fruit that is dried or so fresh its explosive.  Wines that can be bitter, floral, herbal, but not always so subtle.  I would love to say nebbiolo, but something like freisa makes more sense.  I would lean towards the dry over juicy side, subtle notes of herbs and flowers, but still boasting the ripping acid and drying tannins.  I will never be king and don’t want to be.

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

SM: It was intuitive, but during my time thus far at Alinea it has become scientific and super focused.  Knowing every reason why something works or where that one pitfall is that takes a pairing from great to good or fine.

Food Pairing Profile: John Enfield Lockwood (Volume V)

John Enfield Lockwood is one name in California wine that you may not have heard yet (if you don’t read the San Francico Chronicle…) but surely soon will. I’ve been keeping my own eyes on John since we met down in Argentina in 2008 when he was working at Melipal and I at The Vines of Mendoza, and one of his wines is included in our current release, Le Metro Volume IX: Seduced by Syrah. If I’ve waited this long to introduce his wine to you, it was only as I sought proper context for it. His Enfield Wine Co. label is a rising star here in the Bear Republic, and he was recently named in the SF Chronicle as a Winemaker to Watch in 2014. (I’ve also just deposited 6 bottles of his 2011 Syrah in my own wine cellar.)

When I was selecting Argentine wines for Volume V: Argentina Express back in October, there was nobody better than John to turn to for help with the food pairing suggestions. You can download the full PDF of that edition for free here (and you should, as it also includes Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews‘ Elaine Chukan Brown’s first contribution to the Le Metro Wine Zine), and I put him to the test with my Food Pairing Interview, below. As usual I found the responses to be both fun and telling. Enjoy!

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…)

JL: I had just started working with David Mahaffey, it was October of 2004 and we had just finished a long hard day of harvest work and his wife Linda showed up with burritos and David popped a bottle of the same wine that we had been making that day and we ate and drank and watched the sunset over the mayacamas and yes . . . now I’m here.

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

JL: Chips and salsa!

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

JL: I think in a general sense all “good food” provides comfort, but these days as a super-busy self-employed dad who does ALL the cooking, comfort foods are the simple staples I can fall back on that are easy to prepare and still deliver, like whole chicken legs in the cast iron in the oven. Side-note, but wine has definitely been my #1 comfort food for a long time now.

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

JL: Not really, I enjoy constantly tasting different wines, new and old. That being said I always have some good Cru Beaujolais around (Regnie, Morgon in the house!) and I have a fair amount of Failla from working there for so long. The 2007 Sonoma Coast Pinot is drinking unbelievably right now!!

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

JL: I do both, it totally depends on the audience.

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

JL: Ooh, tough to say, I like to cook a lot. Maybe my Moroccan Chicken w/olives and lemon peels, super savory, or my dry-rub beef ribs w/ fenugreek (try it at home!!) which almost make beef ribs cool again.

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

JL: I obsess over it unnecessarily, then (hopefully before midnight) I usually end up just picking a place and more often than not it ends well.

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

JL: Farmers markets . . . period!

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

JL: Culinary ingredient I’d have to be a chile pepper, even though they DO NOT go with wine, I’m a massive addict and used delicately the flavors are sublime. Grape – jeez man, really putting me on the spot. I don’t know if I can do that. It would be a battle royale. No, I can’t make that call, sorry, but I love how different and expressive they each can be, and I love how at their heights they each are capable of capturing both the place where they were grown, and the story and the history and the art of the people that took care of them.

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

JL: I’d have to go intuitive with a dash of science ; )

Food Pairing Profile: Emily & Jody Towe (Volume IX)

Developing the food pairings for our new release, Volume IX: Seduced by Syrah, was very special. Not only does this collection represent the first time I was able to (finally!) sample the wines that Emily and Jody Towe produce right here in San Diego for their j. brix label, but I was fortunate enough to sit down with them myself to also enjoy rest of the wines that I selected for this edition.

Their minuscule production for j. brix sells out in a matter of days (hours?), yet Emily and Jody are quietly gaining a national reputation for true terroir-driven winemaking in California. As we discussed the wines from Volume IX, it was a real pleasure to learn more about their personal journey as well.

Check back here next week for the food and wine pairings, and let us know if you’d like to try the wines yourself! This collection ships next week and inventory is limited as usual, so act fast.

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…)

ET & JT: California dreamers, we are. In 2007, we happened to taste a Pinot Noir made with fruit from the Bien Nacido Vineyard, and while we didn’t know anything about the vineyard at the time, we instantly connected with the incredible sense of place that radiated from the wine. It set us on a quest to find out where on earth it had come from. We knew we had to go there, though we didn’t know why. By 2008, we had become friends with the winemakers; volunteered for long, sticky, exhausting days as often as possible during harvest; and fallen completely in love with the work of winemaking. That year at Thanksgiving, we hosted the winery’s harvest interns at our house, and, for the first time, spoke aloud the words that have shaped our lives since: “Let’s make wine.”

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

JT: Pork chops and sauerkraut. My grandmother always made that meal for me when I would visit her in Michigan. My mom cooked it regularly. My best friend’s mom seemed to be serving it every time I came over for dinner. She jokes now that it must have been the only thing I thought she knew how to cook, but I was happy to eat it anytime. Our 14-year-old daughter recently gifted Emily with a handmade fermentation crock (after all, something really needs to be fermenting at all times around here), and now our first batch of homemade sauerkraut is in the works.

ET: Well, this is embarrassing, but I’ve been an acidhound since I was a wee girl sneaking spoonfuls of Tang out of the container in the kitchen cabinet. Pixy Stix, SweeTarts, lemon drops … the higher the enamel-erosion level, the more I liked it. Wait, is this a Riesling portent?

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

ET: Simple meals, prepared with love. Most often, they’re home-cooked, but it’s so heartening when you have that experience in a restaurant. This happened for us most recently at La Ciccia in San Francisco, where we had our minds blown by course after course of beautiful Sardinian food. The flavors in each dish were incredible, but love was the unifying ingredient that lifted the entire meal from delicious to transcendent. In wine and in food, I truly believe you can taste it. On our label, we list it: Only Love.

JT: Also, it’s hard to beat a perfect everything bagel with cream cheese, capers, and cured wild salmon. 

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

ET & JT: We try to always have bubbles about! Right now, the 2009 Laetitia Brut Rosé from San Luis Obispo is one of our favorites. Laetitia’s been making delicious méthode champenoise in the Central Coast for more than 30 years. We pick up a case of bubbles whenever we’re in the area visiting vineyards. Bright, complex and lovely, it’s the most versatile wine we know. Brunch, lunch, dinner – it just works.

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

ET & JT: It usually goes 50-50. Sometimes we’ll have a bottle that we want to plan a menu to match, and other times we have particular flavors and ingredients we’d like to incorporate into a meal, so we’ll choose the wine once the menu’s set. We spent about a year preparing and blogging semi-monthly about what we called “Double-Double-Blind” pairings, where one of us would plan and cook a secret meal and the other one would choose a secret wine to open along with it. We found many unexpectedly wonderful pairings – and a few fairly spectacular duds. They were all fun to taste and write about!

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

ET & JT: Well, we have had middle-of-the-night requests from former houseguests for the recipe for our slow-braised pork shoulder. We always get the biggest one we can, and then it finds its way into a number of different meals. One of the favorites is an Asian-spiced pulled-pork-and-coleslaw sandwich served on Emily’s homemade brioche buns. The pork cures in a salt and sugar rub overnight; then slow-cooks all day; then gets pulled and seasoned the next day. The bun-baking is an all-day affair, as well, so it takes plenty of advance plotting to pull the meal together. It’s entirely worth it, though.

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

ET & JT:  Between friends’ suggestions and the places our wines have landed – which we always like to visit – we have no shortage of trusted recommendations. The trick is squeezing it all in! 

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

ET & JT:  The Saturday Santa Barbara Farmers’ Market is amazing. We’ve discovered house mainstays like La Nogalera walnut oil, made from local orchards – we’re never without a bottle in the fridge; one of the best ways to enjoy it is to pour it on burrata. We wait all year for summer to come so we can scoop up flats of heirloom Seascape strawberries (they have an absolutely perfect sweetness/acid balance). We’ve learned the ins and outs of the Rocoto pepper, a squat, orange, black-seeded South American variety that cleared out the entire house with airborne spiciness when we attempted to sauté it (now we pickle it). We found fresh flageolet beans in September, and the resulting cassoulet was the best we’ve ever made.

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

ET: I asked our 10-year-old son to answer this question for me. Here, verbatim and without hesitation, is what he said:

“Riesling. Because you kind of act like a riesling grape tastes.” I leave that without editorial comment.

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

ET & JT: Intuition is what led us to winemaking; it continues to guide us in the sensory realm. Cooking is something you can talk about with almost anyone, and it seems most are divided into two camps: those who find great satisfaction in the results that come from following recipes, and those who enjoy off-the-grid experimenting. As usual, we occupy the grey area. We like to look at recipes as a launching pad for experimentation. What will happen? This is the question we started with when we were moved to make wine. It is the question that continues to drive us. Everyone reading this (friends, all!) are invited, always, to taste the experiments and the results.

Food Pairing Profile: Ryan Zepaltas (Volume VI)

Volume VI: “Shades of Pinot Noir” was developed in part during my annual pilgrimage to Napa and Sonoma, and therefore represented the first time I was able to solicit food pairing advice from one of the winemakers whose wines was actually included in the collection.

As Ryan Zepaltas admits on his website for Zepaltas Wines, he “grew up in Wisconsin drinking beer, and can’t recall wine ever being part of [his] family culture.” He moved to Northern California in 1998 to fuel his passion for skateboarding – and in fact succeeded at becoming sponsored – but has since made up for lost time wine-wise; he assists Adam Lee with the winemaking at Siduri as well as making his own wines for Zepaltas.

Ryan is quietly becoming known in industry circles as a “Maestro of Pinot,” and he’s a hell of a lot of fun to taste with. He’s not afraid to be honest and to keep you on your toes, and needless to say his wines are delicious!

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…)

RZ: Back in 2000. I was working the night shift at Villa Maria in New Zealand. It was pouring rain on the crush pad, I was pressing load after load of Sauvignon Blanc. I was wet, cold, sick and tired yet I was feeling absolute joy. I was part of a small crew and we got lots of work done each night. I loved the environment, and I loved the work. My love for wine was built on the foundation of loving the work. 

AE: 2. What food(s) did you find most comforting as a child?

RZ: Spaghetti and meatballs.

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

RZ: My wife’s carnitas with homemade tortillas and all the fixins’. Cheap Chinese food, mashed potatoes & meatloaf, roasted chicken.

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

RZ: Muscadet – Cheap thrills and it often over-delivers on the price. It’s the poor man’s Chablis.

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

RZ: My wife writes the menu and I pull wines around what she’s cooking. She’s the Chef 95% of the time, and I am the sommelier.

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

RZ: God darn right. I make the best Baby Back Ribs this side of the Mississippi.:) I learned the craft from my Uncle Paul and developed my own style over the years. I usually put them in the smoker about 6am and let them go all day. Dry rub, vinegar mop. Rarely do I use any BBQ sauce.

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

RZ: Depends. If I am out promoting Zepaltas Wines, I like to dine at places that support Zepaltas Wines. If I am rolling incognito, I just try to find a place that locals love whether it’s a shithole diner, or the hot place in town. I don’t care. As long as its good. I hate wasting money on bad meals. I get so mad when I lay out good cash for bad dining.

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

RZ: The Santa Rosa Farmer’s Market in Santa Rosa,CA. We go there for breakfast, shopping and hanging out on Saturday mornings. I love buying stuff from the back of the truck straight from the person who grew it or made it. It’s pure, basic, and a great place to learn.

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

RZ: ER……Arugula? I like-a the spicy!!

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

RZ: From the gut. I consider acidity, fruit, tannin, texture and all that, but mostly it is all about what feels right at the moment when you pull the bottle. Think long, think wrong.

Food Pairing Profile: Elaine Chukan Brown (Volume VII)

The responses that I got from Tina Morey to my interview questions last week were so much fun that I decided to send the same ones around to the other folks who have helped develop food pairings our wine selections. Just as with the pairings themselves, it’s a blast to see the different directions that people go in – which is of course the point of the exercise.

For Volume VII: “Underground Bubbles” I was proud to work with Elaine Chukan Brown, who’s also been providing original illustrations for the Le Metro wine zine since coming aboard with Volume V. Elaine was just named by Imbibe Magazine as one of the #Imbibe75 “People to Watch in 2014″ and  is without a doubt one of the most brilliant and creative minds writing, speaking, and drawing about wine in this country today. If her site Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews isn’t at the top of your reading list, it should be.

Thanks so much to Elaine for taking the time to speak with me!

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…)

ECB: At the start of 2012 I’d purposefully left my career as an academic. I wanted my daughter to finish her school year so the idea was to stay till summer, then plan a move. In the meantime, I worked in a friend’s wine shop-wine bar. Jr goes to Alaska every summer to be with our family. When it came time to buy her ticket I realized it was time for me to make a decision about work too. I’d already started my website drawing and writing about wine and it was getting well received. I could jump in and see what I could make happen, or I could find some regular job.

Terrified, I decided I’d throw all in for a life in wine. I hit the road for three months to interview people in wine, while also investigating our short-list of other places to live. By the end of the summer I’d spent over-800 hours meeting and tasting with people in wine, in NYC, and up the whole U.S. West Coast. I had almost no money left but I was happy, and had found our new home in Sonoma. When we moved in I slept on the floor for months, unable to afford a bed. The house just had all of Jr’s stuff in it, and then my mass of interview notebooks, and bottles upon bottles of wine to sample.

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

ECB: I grew up in a Native household. My mother is Aleut, and my father Inupiat, so Native food was the real treat. There were other foods (like moose meat bolognese) we ate too, but things like dried fish in seal oil, and muktuk (which is whale blubber) were god sends to me. To be honest, whale blubber is such a strong smell and taste I don’t know if I could eat it so easily now but I have vivid memories of coming home from elementary school. After opening the front door, the smell of boiled whale meat would waft out the door over me. I’d be so excited I’d run up the stairs ready to sit down at the table.

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

ECB: Today what I crave most is clean, more delicate flavors. If you think about the layers and complexity that French broths carry… foods like that. Pure expressions that are subtle and complex both.

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

ECB: The wine I want right then is my house wine.

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

ECB: My approach is varied, and depends on if the experience is driven by work that I’m bringing friends into, or I just feel like cooking. If I just feel like cooking, then I make whatever food I’m in the mood for, and find the wine after. But I also do a lot of meals that are posed more as a study for wine pairing. Those begin with the wine but become a dance of flavors through both.

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

ECB: A few of my friends in California call me the “moose meat underground” but what they expect me to bring to a party is pie.

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

ECB: My favorite thing when traveling is actually for someone to choose foods for me. I’m allergic to shrimp and mussels — now go! What would you love to share with me?

AE: I’ll get back to you – it depends where you’re going. :) What is your favorite place to shop for food?

ECB: I love going to fresh produce pop-ups or stands, and I also love markets with a rush of flavoral tidbits — little food items from all over. It isn’t always that I will buy those things. I love imagining the world behind all those things.

Go-to grocery though has to have killer grass feed meats, and fresh produce.

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

ECB: Honestly? I have no idea. I’m kind of a ding-dong when it comes to understanding myself in the big picture, and it seems like your question is dependent on that. This is one of those things I’d have to ask friends to answer for me.

AE: I’ll start asking around. But in the meantime, tell me, would you consider your approach to food & wine pairing to be more scientific or intuitive? 

ECB: The only true answer for me is both. I follow my gut in choosing what to drink, but I love to know everything possible about a wine and to think of it within its context. I’m a philosopher and a poet by training but I grew up in a culture that values its food for survival and nourishment. What that means is I’ve got the mind of an academic, the heart of a writer, and a thirst to fill my senses.

Food Pairing Profile: Tina Morey (Volume VIII)

Now that this website is fully up-to-date, it’s time for me to catch up on my blogging.

Since Le Metro Volume II, back in July, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the most talented wine professionals in the country to develop food pairings for our monthly selections. While originally intended to help you make the most of these special wines, this has grown into a gratifying exercise in community-building and a really fun way to explore the many approaches one might take to pairing food and wine.

This week, starting with our current release – Vol VIII: Valleys of Valpolicella –  I’ll be working backwards and introducing you to these folks who I’m proud to call my friends.

For our January pairings, I decided to keep it close to home after all of the holiday craziness and capitalize on the deep expertise of my business partner Tina Morey, Le Metro’s Ops Maestro. Tina has a decade of experience under her belt as a professional pastry chef, and is one of the most thoughtful wine professionals I know. Working with her is immense fun, and every conversation leaves me with new food for thought. (Pun totally intended.)

Let us know if you’re interested in trying Volume VIII for yourself and checking out Tina’s complete food pairings!

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…)

TM: The Herbfarm in Woodinville, Washington. We sat at a communal table, spoke and laughed with folks from all over the country, listened to a classical guitarist and was completely in the moment. The 1910 Madeira at the end of the evening was mind-blowing but I can’t explain why. The highlight for me was the professionalism and ease that each and every staff member elicited.  I wanted that confidence, that knowledge, that sense of complete trust of each member’s ability at any given time during the evening.  The wine was part of the entire experience, but it fit so seamlessly it never stood out, but floated from course to course so that it was the entirety of the evening, that sense of totality that has remained with me for years.

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

TM: Toast. Honestly, my childhood is a blur, but what stands out is dark toast spread with salted butter. My bread choice has evolved since then, but most mornings I still enjoy dark toast with unsalted butter and my homemade berry jam.

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

TM: Unplanned, simple, seasonal meals.

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

TM: Anything sparkling, usually under $20.

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

TM: Since I have many types of bottles in the house, 9 out of 10 times I match the wine to the food–I like to cook seasonally.  However, being a Sommelier, it’s fun and many times required to develop a menu around the wine.

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

TM: Too many! I’m not boasting, it’s just that I trained as a pastry chef so I’ve been doing this awhile. A few standouts are Butternut Squash Lasagna, Citron Tart, Riesling Poached Pear Cake, Rosemary-Infused Chocolate Cake and Spicy Bucatini.

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

TM: I eat atrociously when I travel alone for work. When I’m traveling with my husband, he likes to choose so I let him.

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

TM: I’m a big believer in family-owned specialty markets—they are the pulse of any community and should be revered!  I think that comes from growing up in a large Italian family in New Jersey.

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

TMSaffron. Rarely seen, used sparingly. When applied correctly, will knock your socks off! Aglianico. I’ve always been fascinated with this grape—the name rolls off the tongue and it’s somewhat of a dichotomy. Furmint. I like that the grape can go either way: dry or sweet. There’s somewhat of a choice involved. Furmint vines bud early and ripen late, which allows the grape to develop such concentration and complexity.

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

TM: Intuitive, but since I’ve been trained in the wine industry, the scientific plays a huge role in how the intuitive is processed and interpreted.

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