The Somm Journal

Dec 2015-Jan 2016

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Page 24 of 124

DENISE MUELLER, Manager and Sommelier, The Dark Room, St. Louis, MO The SOMM Journal: The Dark Room is a photo gallery, live jazz venue and wine bar all in one. The wine list rotates along with the exhibitions. How do the wine and the art relate to one another? Denise Mueller : We consider ourselves not just another wine bar, but rather a holistic experience designed to enhance community engagement, encourage conversation and inspire ideas. We do this by hosting a progressive beverage program and cutting-edge pho - tography, paired with locally sourced, wine-savvy cuisine and nightly live musical acts. We create a new wine list and feature cocktails for each rotat- ing, bi-monthly photography exhibit curated by the International Photography Hall of Fame, also conveniently located in the Grand Center district in Saint Louis. These "turns" create a unique and ever-changing wine bar and gallery in the heart of Saint Louis— always something new to sip and see. What led you to help found the Mid-American School of Wine two years ago? Are you seeing an increase in demand for formal wine education in your area? I realized I wanted to share my knowledge: I reached out to my mentor and colleagues to create an educational platform for the Saint Louis area, and the Mid-American School of Wine was born. We offer a proprietary course called "PreSomm," which is an eight- week boot camp for wine theory and wine service. We also have accreditations and offer courses for Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) and Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET). We are now working toward securing a French Wine Scholar (FWS) accredited program for 2016. Saint Louis's food and beverage scene has seen a significant improve - ment in the last five years. We feel that our school is helping make large strides in the beverage service side, one class of new wine professionals at a time. If you could get your hands on any bottle of wine in the world, what would it be? Birth-year grower Champagnes: Bring on all of the 1982s! JOSHUA ORR, Sommelier, Marina Kitchen, Marriott Marquis, San Diego, CA The SOMM Journal: What is your wine philos- ophy and how does it guide the wine program at Marina Kitchen? Joshua Orr : There are three major themes that jump out when you look at the list at Marina Kitchen. The first is diversity, or diversity of classic wines to be more specific. I wanted the list to reflect the classic wine regions of the world. The second is compatibility with the menu. Our food is heavily reliant on our local resources, which includes a lot of fresh fish from our coast. So our menu has a larger selection of white wines than you will typi - cally find in San Diego area. The last part is value. I have setup the list to represent value for the guest as much as possible. The philosophy I utilize is, if I were to have dinner at Marina Kitchen, would I be excited about the wine selec - tion? I think the answer is yes, but I am slightly partial. What is the most challenging aspect of your job as Sommelier? One of the biggest challenges I face is getting past the predisposed notions that still exist about sommeliers. I try to read tables accurately and quickly in order to discern what type of experience they are looking for. I will always provide them with the best wine I can recom - mend given the circumstances, but the background story and related information about the wine doesn't always make it to the table. Which wine region is top on your list of places to visit? Certainly Piedmont, because my wife and I share a love of Nebbiolo. Washington and Oregon are right behind that as I love the wines from these states, and they are so close that it is a shame that I haven't visited them already. We've partnered with Somm's List, the global wine professional network, to learn more about wine experts from across the country. Q: Q: Q: Q: Q: Q: If you are a wine professional interested in being featured here or want more information on Somm's List, please email PHOTO: JONATHAN GAYMAN

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