Even the experts screw up sometimes. Here, some of F&W’s 2015 Sommeliers of the Year recount the most embarrassing moments in their professional lives.
Misdiagnosing a Corked Wine
“In 2004 or 2005, when I was first starting out, I remember buying a bottle of Côtes du Rhône and tasting it in the evening and being like, wow this wine is so interesting and so unique and has these flavors and smells that I’ve never tried before. I was so excited about it that I put the cork back into it and decided to hold it for the next day, when I would see my more experienced wine friends, so that they could try it. I thought I had found something so special and so unique. And so I poured it for my friends the next day and was like smell this, taste this, tell me what you think, and they were like, ‘Dude, this wine is totally corked. What are you doing?’ It was the first time I had tasted a corked wine.” —Thomas Pastuszak, The Nomad in New York City
“I poured a red wine on top of someone’s white wine once. That’s really embarrassing because you can’t take the wine out of the glass. It’s like making tableside rosé. Sorry!” —Dana Frank, Ava Gene’s in Portland, Oregon
Dress Code Confusion
After being a sommelier for just a year, I went to a Masters of Food & Wine event. It is a very hard event—you show up and you polish so many glasses, you constantly walk up and down the stairs. I showed up with an extremely tight pink satin skirt, pointy high heels and a very tight jacket. After that, everyone was waiting for the next event to see what I was going to wear.” —Vilma Mazaite, LaV in Austin
Spilling Wine on Gordon Ramsay
“I spilled wine on Gordon Ramsay’s head. He was eating at Spacco with his director of operations. I had a magnum of Barbaresco decanted for another table, and my shoulder hit a wall right near their table. The decanter sloshed in just the right way to send a glop of wine up and over, and it showered their whole table. They both stood up and rubbed their heads because they thought they were getting rained on. They were really nice about it, but I got a lot of shit for that. It was on the security cameras, and I think people watched it.” —Taylor Parsons, République in Los Angeles