When did you first get interested in wine?
Back in high school. A friend of mine’s family was from Chile, and they had wine on the dinner table every evening. I dined with them frequently and slowly began to take a sip, and then half a glass... It was a nice way to learn that wine and food go together.
What advice would you give an aspiring sommelier?
Start taking notes. Unfortunately, it took me a few years to get around to doing that myself. But once I started writing down my impressions of wines that I tasted and keeping track of what they were, it was amazing how quickly things began to fall into place.
Is there one bottle of wine that you particularly remember?
One time, Tony McClung at Sierra Grill opened a bottle of Richebourg for me. I’d always enjoyed wine, but it was amazing to see the atmospheric heights some wines are able to reach. After tasting it, Tony said, “Now just imagine if you weren’t a smoker, how much more you would have gotten out of it.” I was a chain-smoker at the time, two packs a day. I quit cold turkey.