Santa for Somms
Every year, thousands of friends, families, colleagues and neighbors look at their holiday shopping list and will inevitably come to the one person that they have no idea what to buy - their sommelier. Whether your daughter is a wine director or you are close with the Somm at your favorite restaurant, you never really know what to give them - until now! It’s Christmas Eve, but it’s not too late to send them something that they actually will love! How do we know they will - because we polled some of Chicago’s finest wine pros to see what they would be happy with for the holiday season!
Freddy Brown - Sales Representative & Chief Morale Officer for Robert Houde Wines
Freddy asked Santa for one of the most iconic books on wine ever printed, Champagne by Peter Liem. This book not only breaks down each cru, site, producer and bottling that you could ever imagine but also has several incredible maps that have been out of print until now. If anyone knew a thing or two about Champagne, it’s Freddy! He sells one of Chicago’s top Champagne portfolios with Robert Houde and you can always count on some bubbly in his bag! Champagne is available on Amazon with SAME DAY PRIME shipping and for how excitable sommeliers are about Maps, Books AND Champagne - this is bound to be the binding for the wine pro in your life!
Kyle Tarczynski - Sommelier at RPM Steak
There are few sommeliers in Chicago that can wield a bottle of big, bold wine like Kyle Tarczynski! Part of the incredible RPM wine team, Kyle works one of Chicago’s top programs. For Kyle, “everyone always thinks that because we’re wine guys, they always want to gift us wine. But in actuality, we get given so much wine because of what we do, and taste so much wine, that it’s not always the best play.” So instead, Kyle would love a Durand - a combination type corkscrew that utilizes an Ah-So type system and a classic screw all at the same time! “I open a fair amount of old bottles, and it’s such a great tool to have. The core support from the worm and the extraction from the prongs, it’s just amazing when dealing with old corks. I’ve been telling myself that I was going to purchase one for the house for years, we have one at work, but still haven’t pulled the trigger.” Our friends at Rare Wine Co. have a great demo video and you can purchase it from their website too - The Durand
Brian Wallace - Owner at Luxury Wine Partners
After managing some of the top brands for wine distributors here in Chicago, Brian has ventured out to create a collection of fantastic elite wine brands under his own firm, Luxury Wine Partners. For Brian, a very considerate guy to his gift-givers, something easy to find but rare for a wine pro to buy is best “From a wine perspective I would say a nice bottle of Taylor Fladgate 20 year tawny port. Easy enough for a non-wine person to find and pick out without worrying over vintages, regions or producers. A nice “safe” purchase that I all too often neglect to purchase for myself. It’s an easy pick-up here in Chicago too, available at Binny’s across the city!
If you must buy the wine guy or gal in your life a bottle of wine, there are some definite DO’s when picking out bottles. First, according to Amy Mundwiler, the fantastic wine director for the Gold Coast’s Maple & Ash, that there are certain regions and producers to focus on! Amy says “Cru Beaujolais is always a good bet. I also love getting Champagne! (who doesn’t!). For non-wine stuff, I’m not a fan of all that kitschy wine decor!” Possibly the best advice Amy could give “Also..make it a magnum! A magnum of Follaird (a Cru Beaujolais producer) would be sexy as hell!
Sandeep Ghaey, one of the best wine minds in Chicago, is the man behind Vinic Wine, a great shop in Evanston for some of the best wines you can find in the area! Sandeep has never really gotten much wine from his friends, most likely due to that fear of not knowing what to get him! For Sandeep, the effort is so much of the gift, saying “I have received exactly two bottles gifted to me ever from people outside of the industry, and ive always thought it would be an easy gift to just go find something unique and tasty from some small retailer. Id be pleased as punch to get almost any Northern Rhone Syrah, or Beaujolais.”