JASON WAGNER – UNION SQUARE CAFE, New York City

“It’s one of the most iconic restaurants in New York. You could count on two hands how many restaurants have this history. And it hasn’t had a lot of wine directors in its time. You stand on the shoulders of giants.” Jason Wagner describes his initial thoughts when he stepped into the role of Wine Director at the re-imagined, relocated union Square café. In 1985, union Square café was the very first restaurant opened by Danny Meyer with a focus on “contemporary American cuisine,” fresh ingredients (many sourced down the street from the green market in union Square), and warm hospitality. Thirty years later, bumped up the street with a fresh new look, union Square café somehow still manages to … Continue reading JASON WAGNER – UNION SQUARE CAFE, New York City

CHARLES PUGLIA – LE COUCOU, New York City

Le coucou, Daniel Rose’s first New York restaurant, is the new definition of classic French  cuisine in New York city. The restaurant has very quickly established itself as the best and most  sought-after ‘table’ in NY. In fact, the accolade of ‘Best New Restaurant in America’ was  bestowed upon Rose and restaurateur Stephen Starr’s new baby by the James Beard Foundation this past Spring. Enter sommelier charles Puglia, a New York area born and raised local who most recently spent nearly five years at the helm of one of the greatest American institutions of fine-dining, Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Puglia readily admits that he came into the  restaurant business a little ahead of the ‘new generation’ of … Continue reading CHARLES PUGLIA – LE COUCOU, New York City

HIDÉ ISHIZUKA – Le Petit Verdot, Paris

NON-SOMMELIER The Japanese chefs who come to make their name in France may now be too many to count, but  a visit to Hidé Ishizuka’s restaurant remains essential. chef and sommelier, he partnered with  Thierry Marx before taking over Le Petit Verdot 12 years ago. This tiny restaurant in Rue du  cherche-Midi is as unpretentious as its owner, respecting French gastronomy with a wine list filled with wonders. First opened as Le Châtaignier in 1935, the restaurant gained two Michelin stars in 1958 and, in  1964, was described by Henri Gault and christian Millau as “One of the finest temples of French cuisine”. But then things went downhill, with several changes of ownership before 2005, when Hidé took over. After … Continue reading HIDÉ ISHIZUKA – Le Petit Verdot, Paris

FRÉDÉRIC TURPAUD – DIVELLEC, Paris

THE 3RD DIMENSION SOMMELIER “A Pauillac with fish? Of course!” Devotees of fish and seafood couldn’t wait for this iconic restaurant in Paris’s Invalides quarter to reopen its doors. Founded in 1983 by chef Jacques le Divellec, then closed in 2013, it was brought back to life a year ago and in spectacular style, took just few months to win a star in the 2017 Michelin guide. The driving force behind the rebirth is chef Mathieu Pacaud, who in 2015 opened two restaurants under one Parisian roof, Hexagone and Histoires, boasting one and two stars respectively. Divellec also owes its rapid success to some thirty staff, among them head sommelier Frédéric Turpaud. “We’re proud of our star – it’s the … Continue reading FRÉDÉRIC TURPAUD – DIVELLEC, Paris

JESS KIEFER – CAFÉ STELLA, Los Angeles

Café Stella on West Sunset Boulevard in the burgeoning neighborhood of Silver lake is a Los Angeles mainstay of French cuisine. classic bistro / brasserie, one can leave Café Stella after a meal of escargots, moules frites, and côte de boeuf fully believing that the next stop for the evening will be the Butte Montmartre. Owner and chef Gareth Kantner, who has been at the helm of “Stella” for over two decades, may be seen as the protector of all things “classique”, but don’t let well-curated appearances fool you. The list of wines at Café Stella is constructed  around the great wine regions of France, the de rigueur favorites of its Francophile audience of  artists, actors and well-healed regulars – … Continue reading JESS KIEFER – CAFÉ STELLA, Los Angeles

JARED HOOPER – FAITH & FLOWER, Los Angeles

Jared Hooper would like you to share your wine… with other  tables. Faith and Flower’s opening sommelier is a gregarious, well-travelled, and wickedly fun character. Brooklynite by birth,  graduate of columbia university and the Hamptons, NY restaurant scene, Hooper has never been afraid to experiment. Out of school Jared was drawn to the beaches of the East End of long Island where he spent time as the gatekeeper for a private group of houses while working odd jobs on the side and working on the great American novel. A stint as a sculptor’s assistant for the owner of channing Daughters winery (Hooper holds a degree in writing and literature with some studies in sculpture for good measure) unexpectedly morphed into … Continue reading JARED HOOPER – FAITH & FLOWER, Los Angeles