"Four Master Sommeliers walk into a bar." The sentence sounds like the setup to a joke your wine-geek uncle would tell—but it did in fact happen on a chilly afternoon in January at New York's Lupulo. (Okay, so the four master sommeliers walked into an excellent Portuguese restaurant with a killer bar. Close enough.)
The somms—Dustin Wilson of Verve Wine, KyungMoon Kim of The Modern, Alex LaPratt of Beasts & Bottles, and Brahm Callahan of Grill 23—were gathered to expound upon the new era of wine culture we've recently entered: Whereas 30 years ago consumers may have felt intimidated or overwhelmed by sommeliers, these days they tend to have a much better understanding of wine and, consequently, of what these experts do. Simultaneously, sommeliers are more approachable and communicative than ever before, encouraging an unprecedented and collaborative dialogue with restaurant guests.
- F&W’s 2016 Sommeliers of the Year’s Best Wine Bargains
- F&W’s 2016 Sommeliers of the Year On the Best Wines They Drank This Year
- 17 Wine Resolutions for 2017 from Top Sommeliers
To lubricate discussion, I asked each of the four to bring their favorite affordable (under $30) bottle of wine of the moment. Together, over the course of 90 minutes—during which tasty Portuguese cuisine, accessible wine, and even (gasp!) refreshing beer was consumed—the five of us dissected what it means to be a Master Sommelier today.