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Sommeliers of the Year

Hristo Zisovski's Life Story in 5 Wines: From Homemade Garage Wine to Well-Aged Petrus

Hristo Zisovski's 5 Defining Wines

Sommelier Hristo Zisovski Photo © Evan Sung

Hristo Zisovski, from Costata in New York City, is one of Food & Wine's 2014 Sommeliers of the Year. Here, 5 bottles that have defined his wine life.

Garage Wine
"My dad makes wine in our garage. The first time I tasted the wine, it was fermenting juice that was sweet, but kind of bubble. My dad and uncles are immigrants from Macedonia. They make wine, but they don't really know what good wine is. They just know it is meant to be on the table."

1966 and 1982 Pétrus
"I was 20 years old at my first job, as a front waiter at a restaurant named March, where I learned how to read a table. One Sunday night, this couple walked in, and I could tell right away that the lady was so upset with her husband. He was there to give her the best of the best. I went to my captain and said, 'Bob, this table will drink the Pétrus.' They were the two most expensive bottles on the list. And I said, 'Go to the table, and when they ask, just mention it.' We had one bottle of each vintage, and they drank both that night."

1997 Cathiard Vosne-Romanée En Orveaux
"This is the wine that I loved selling when I worked at Jean-Georges. It was the one that made me want to start understanding Burgundy. I think it was a great starter Burgundy because Vosne-Romanée, first of all, is so regal and so perfumey, and it was just so smooth. That's my wine. I was like, 'I need to dissect and understand why Burgundy tastes different, and learn all the different vineyards and the hundreds of producers.'"

1976 Karthäuserhofberg Riesling Spätlese
"I bought almost a full case from auction because it was the birth year of the woman I was in love with. (She's now my wife.) She always says to me, 'Don't tell your collector friends that your birth year is '80, because it sucks. Tell them it's '76.' To which I say, 'Why don't we cut it in the middle and I'll tell them it's '78? The '78s are fantastic in Burgundy.'"

2007 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo
"When I left Jean-Georges, Bartolo was one of the only Italian wines I really knew well because it was one of the few Italian wines we served there. As difficult as it is for Barolo to be anyone's beginner wine, its style is a perfect balance of complexity and length with finesse and approachability."

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