Andrew Bell the American Sommelier – Five Questions
By the kind efforts of Melissa Braverman, Wild River Review’s- Wild Table column has been able to secure the Five Questions from Andrew Bell, the Co-Founder and President of American Sommelier.
Recognized as one of the top wine educators in the country, Andrew has nearly 25 years of industry experience that also includes winemaking in France, working alongside Michelin three-starred restaurant Guy Savoy as second sommelier and founding American Sommelier. Known for his accessible, “never order a bad bottle again” approach to understanding wine, he has been quoted in such outlets as Reuters, Wine Enthusiast and Bloomberg and leads American Sommelier’s 26-week Viticulture & Vinification course. Popular with wine enthusiasts and industry professionals alike, the course covers wine from A to Z (food pairings, varieties, geography, winemaking, etc.) and has sparked the creation of a six-day immersion version.
Editor’s Note: I am a fan of wine that speaks of the place- of the soil or rock if you will. Biodynamic, organic? A big plus in my book. That’s not to say that I only drink organic or Biodynamic, far from.
My focus is on passionate winemaking. I believe that these wines do not have to be expensive to be delicious! Please take for example my local store- 56 Degree Wines in Bernardsville, NJ. Chris Cree, the owner is a Master of Wine, one of 29 in the United States. He is, to my knowledge one of the only MW’s with his own shop! They sell wines and other spirits- made by passionate individuals!
Does your store do this for you? If not, point your browser to his page- I think you’ll be quite pleased with what you see and taste!
Without further delay, may I present- Andrew Bell, American Sommelier and the Five Questions. Cheers! wb
WRR: 1. Why wine? What led you to the wine world? Did you travel as a boy to Europe? I know you lived in France, where else have your travels taken you?
I grew up around wine, but not in any way that might lead me to this industry. I only first visited Europe when I was 24. After four and a half years of living in France, I moved back to New York to start my import and distribution company. I founded the New York chapter of American Sommelier in 1999 and took over as the organization’s U.S. president three years later.
Over the years, since returning to the U.S. from France, my travels have taken me to Chile, Bulgaria, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Greece and now South Africa.
WRR: 2. Do you cook? If so, who taught you?
I spent 15 years working in the restaurant business, and I made friends almost as much with the kitchen staff as I did with the front of the house team. I paid attention to how they prepared everything. So from the kitchen of Splendidos in San Francisco all the way to Guy Savoy’s two-starred restaurant in Paris, I learned from the best — and have tried to recreate many recipes from these amazingly talented people (albeit, in some case, with very limited success!).
WRR: 3. What is in your freezer right now?
Well, I have 3 children so…chicken nuggets, soy milk ice cream sandwiches and ice. And a pork roast for the grown-up paletes in our household!
WRR: 4. Is there any wine that brings a tear to your eye when you taste it? Why? What led you to found American Sommelier and what is the biggest misconception people have about wine education?
I think any well made wine can make you teary because the level of emotion comes from who you’re with and why you’re enjoying a bottle and not necessarily what’s in the bottle. My big a-ha moment was with a 1988 Woodward Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon. It had elements of bitter cocoa powder, dark cassis and light plums. In a word, wow! It was a great moment of discovery.
Anything is possible when a wine is well made, and you are open to experiencing it. That moment happened 20 years ago and opened up a new world for me. I had studied psychology in school and originally wanted to be a therapist and teach at a university, but wine became the subject — and American Sommelier my universe. American Sommelier was born out of the Sommelier Society of America in 1998, and I helped found it with the goal of increasing wine awareness through education – of helping people have their own a-ha moments with wine.
WRR: 5. Is there any place in the world that you would love to be right now? Why?
Where I am right now! I’m visiting South African vineyards, meeting incredible people with a dream for themselves and their country. It is quite humbling when you see and hear the story of a country weighed down by its own past yet always looking forward the future. The stories I hear will become part of my story which I share whenever I teach or speak to people interested in the wine and food business. The people I am meeting here are without pretense and a wonderful example of how the enjoyment of wine is a truly universal experience.
Thank you Andrew!
AMERICAN SOMMELIER AND CHARLIE PALMER GROUP
PARTNER TO HOST WINE SEMINARS
Program to Kick Off at Renowned New York City Restaurant Aureole on February 6, 2012
NEW YORK, NY (January 19, 2012) – American Sommelier, the nation’s preeminent wine education organization, and the Charlie Palmer Group, Master Chef and Hospitality Entrepreneur Charlie Palmer’s collection of award-winning restaurants and hotels, announce a partnership to host a monthly series of experiential wine events. The 12-session series is scheduled to take place one Monday of each month at Palmer’s flagship location Aureole in New York City from February 6 to December 17, 2012. Each two-hour seminar is designed to help participants make informed and intelligent wine choices while exploring unique topics including Lock, Stock & Barrel; Unusual Grapes and Why We Love Them; and History in the Tasting .
Each session is lead by American Sommelier President and CEO Andrew Bell. Bell is recognized as one of the foremost wine educators in the country. Over the past 25 years, he has worked in all sectors of the wine industry while honing his passion for teaching.
“We are delighted to be working with the Charlie Palmer Group on this innovative series,” said Andrew Bell. “These seminars are designed to help both beginner and more advanced wine lovers explore different grape varieties, styles and regions while gaining the confidence to make educated wine selections on their own. Covering a wide range of material, we have planned a curriculum that is both informative and entertaining—these seminars are going to be a really enjoyable way to spend a Monday night.”
Aureole Beverage Director Justin Lorenz will also be on hand to lend his expertise. Responsible for developing Aureole’s robust list of more than 1,500 wine selections from around the world, Lorenz has studied with American Sommelier and brings more than a decade of wine knowledge to his role at the restaurant.
“Aureole’s wine program complements the menu’s progressive American cuisine. Nearly 15,000 bottles of wine are stored on premise and diners can experience an extensive collection with great depth in Italy, Spain, Austria, Germany and the Rhône Valley,” added Lorenz. “With their dedication to raising the overall level of wine knowledge and awareness, American Sommelier is the ideal partner to assist our customers in their search for the perfect bottle.”
During each seminar, attendees will taste 10 wines carefully selected to illustrate the evening’s theme, paired with light hors d‘oeuvres from Aureole’s Executive Chef Marcus Ware. On May 10, a limited-seating Spring Pairing Dinner will feature a specially prepared seasonal menu and wines artfully paired with each of the four courses.
The monthly seminars will take place Monday evenings between 6:30 PM and 8:30 PM in Aureole’s private dining room, beginning February 6 with Sparkle & Shine featuring sparkling wines from around the world. The price for enrollment is $150 per event. Individuals wishing to attend any five events will receive a 5% discount, while those signing up for all 12 receive a
10% discount (not including the pairing dinner). The Spring Pairing Dinner is offered for $275 per guest.
For more information, please visit http://www.americansommelier.com/education/seminars/. To sign up, please contact Rachel Koblic, Director of Operations of American Sommelier, at 212.897.4129 or RachelKoblic@AmericanSommelier.com.
About American Sommelier
American Sommelier is revolutionizing the way the world thinks about wine. Committed to empowering both the consumer and professional to make informed and intelligent choices, the organization serves as a forum where all wine lovers may gather to speak as equals. American Sommelier offers a comprehensive curriculum of wine education and provides a wide range of additional benefits to its members. The organization hosts seminars, tastings, and networking opportunities to enhance knowledge and skills and to promote a vibrant wine community. Since 1998, American Sommelier has hosted the biennial “Best Sommelier in America” competition that recognizes excellence in the wine service industry. The organization creates custom experiential and advisory services for individuals, groups, and corporations both in and out of the hospitality industry. From cellar consultation and wine list development to job placement and insider wine journeys, American Sommelier’s mission remains the same: to cultivate awareness, understanding, and appreciation for wine.
Renowned Chef Charlie Palmer’s unabashed, energetic signature Progressive American cuisine first took root in the original townhouse location of Aureole, where the chef made an early commitment to farm over factory food. Today, Michelin-starred Aureole shines at the spectacular Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park, the most environmentally advanced skyscraper in the world. Overseen by wine director Justin Lorenz, Aureole’s wine program complements the menu’s progressive American cuisine. Wine lovers have always found an extensive collection of Burgundy, Bordeaux, and California Cabernet. But Aureole also offers more than 1,700 selections with over 15,000 bottles stored on premise from around the world with great depth in Italy, Spain, Austria, Germany, and the Rhône Valley, and two dozen by-the-glass pairings, matched to our seasonal tasting menus. www.CharliePalmer.com; 212-319-1660.
Thanks should also go to Melissa Braverman who has treated me so very kindly during our conversations via email.
Her contact information is just below.
Thank you Melissa for your editing skills and kindness! wb
Senior Media Specialist
evins communications, ltd. 635 madison avenue new york, ny 10022
ph: 212.688.8200 fax: 212.935.6730 www.evins.com
Warren Bobrow is a mixologist, chef, and writer known as the Cocktail Whisperer. In 2010, Bobrow founded “Wild Table” for Wild River Review and serves as the master mixologist for several brands of liquor, including the Busted Barrel rum produced by New Jersey’s first licensed distillery since Prohibition.
Bobrow has published three books on mixology and written articles for Saveur magazine, Voda magazine, Whole Foods-Dark Rye, Distiller, Beverage Media, DrinkupNY and other periodicals. He writes the “On Whiskey” column for Okra Magazine at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and has written restaurant reviews for New Jersey Monthly.
His first book Apothecary Cocktails, was published in September 2013; and immediately went into a second printing. In 2014, he published Whiskey Cocktails. He was born and raised in Morristown, NJ, on a Biodynamic farm.
Warren Bobrow in this Edition
COCKTAIL WHISPERER, Editor
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The Five Questions: Andrew Bell, American Sommelier
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The Five Questions: Randall Grahm
The Five Questions: Sustainable Sushi
A Glass of Bourbon, Branch, and History
Midnight in the Bronx: Visit to Hunt’s Point Wholesale Fish Exchange
A Modern Day Absinthe Alchemist
A Summer Cocktail Party for Artie Shaw
Tales of the Cocktail: New Orleans, Louisiana