Hello Reddit, I’m Jason Smith, Master Sommelier and Executive Director of Wine for Bellagio, ARIA, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, and more within MGM Resorts International in Las Vegas.

I oversee all wine operations ranging from restaurants and bars to conventions and in-room dining, and manage the inventory of more than 5,500 wine selections and almost 500,000 bottles from around the world.

I was the nation’s youngest Master Sommelier early on in my career and now I oversee wine education for over 50 Sommeliers and thousands of service employees within MGM Resorts in Las Vegas.

From my journey to becoming a Master Sommelier to stories from the restaurant floor, AMA!

Proof: https://twitter.com/JasonSmithLV/status/788069133870956544


EDIT 7pm EST 10/20: And that's a wrap...thanks for all of the awesome questions!


Comments: 453 • Responses: 75  • Date: 

TwisterII451 karma

How much has Profit Growth Plan effected the wine business? It's reported that shops at Excalibur dropped 30% in business since MGM Resorts introduced paid parking.

MGM is taking more of my wallet from the increase of fees for parking, resort fees, safe fees, and all around nickel and diming customers. With my money going towards fees, I can't afford a bottle of wine like I use to.

riotgirrl8984 karma

I like how he disregarded this question 😭

TwisterII31 karma

Hopefully, it will get to the top and maybe we'll hear back. Im truly interested in how their business and demand has changed with such drastic cuts in customer experiences over the past year.

It's nothing against Jason, but we very very rarely have a way to see into these massive operations and find out what's going on. I live in Nevada and these resorts are a large part of our economy - they're why I'm here!

ProfWiggles13 karma

Listen to their quarterly earnings call and you will hear everything this guy is allowed to say. PGP was a huge program, much bigger than just paid parking. And the other programs free up a lot of cash simply due to efficiencies.

It was about time too, MGM had acquired others...mirage group, mbh group, but never really merged with them. And every property was like a separate operation. PGP brought more standard operations across the board and leveraged some economies to scale. They are building a stronger centralized corporate to support properties which is way more cost effective than 16 properties supporting themselves.

And I still think paying for parking is kind of ridiculous...but that's what Uber is for.

mgmresortsintl7 karma

For those that are still interested in this topic, scroll down to see my reply.

mgmresortsintl21 karma

I wanted to hop back on and answer this question because of all of the interest. I’m going to focus my comments just on the wine side as that is my area of expertise. My current position (Exec Director of Wine for all of MGM Resorts, I was previously Director of Wine at Bellagio) actually came from the company’s desire to streamline our wine purchases and leverage our buying power. One of the results from the lower cost is the ability to pass along savings to our guests. The part of Profit Growth Plan that energizes me the most (besides having the awesome new job) is a focus on the culture of wine within our resorts. We now have quarterly meetings with our 50+ sommeliers in order to network, increase education and share ideas. This has cascaded into our restaurant outlets, so that when you dine with us, our servers will be able to provide an even more memorable experience.

PainusPentauffenfaus88 karma

Have you ever watched the "Somm" documentary on Netflix? If so, how do you feel about the depiction of the training process and the personalities that chose to pursue it? Accurate?

mgmresortsintl111 karma

I have watched Somm and it flooded me with memories of taking the exam. I thought is was an excellent representation of the difficulty of the test as well as the time needed to devote to it.

Wizard_of_Ozymandias73 karma

Hi Jason! I'll be in Vegas in two weeks. What do you say we get wine drunk and act like Niles and Frasier Crane?

mgmresortsintl64 karma

That depends...do I get to be Frasier?

TheTrueLordHumungous38 karma

I am a pretty decent cook and have a good sense of taste but I just cant differentiate on wine. Is this something I can learn or is a pallet for wine something you are either born with or born without?

mgmresortsintl54 karma

Learning about wine and educating your palette is certainly something that can be improved. The best part about it is the more you practice, the better it will get. I would suggest reading about certain grapes / regions at the same time you are tasting a bottle of wine. This will help solidify what you are tasting and reading. Keep drinking!

TheTrueLordHumungous23 karma

Thanks for the reply.

One more question if I may: what do you think of Trader Joe's 2 Buck Chuck?

mgmresortsintl24 karma

I certainly wouldn't drink it! But, anything that introduces people to wine is a good thing in my book

_Calistoga_9 karma

Great question! I've struggled with wines (reds especially) tasting like rubbing alcohol. Is wine an acquired taste?

mgmresortsintl22 karma

Wine, like most alcohols are an acquired taste. You receive a lot of joy once you require that taste though! In general, most people are used to drinking sweeter beverages so start with fruit-forward wines.

Sir_Auron33 karma

There was a throwaway joke on an episode of Reno 911! where someone smuggled a bottle into prison while all the officers were in jail and Dangle says "If you're gonna go for a Cab, get an even year."

Is this true? Why?

mgmresortsintl38 karma

I'm just curious how they were able to smuggle the wine in... Even year, odd year...that doesn't matter. It is based on that specific year and can be very unique based on the region it is from. For example, Napa Cabernet can be good vs. Sonoma cab could be average in the same vintage.

GaryLazereys31 karma

Hey Jason,

Is it true that when ordering an extremely expensive or rare bottle of wine, it is a common courtesy to leave a bit behind in the bottle for the Sommelier to sample?

Thanks for indulging my curiosity.

mgmresortsintl57 karma

It is very much appreciated, but certainly not expected. I think it may also depend on how much the sommelier assisted during the selection and service of the wine.

AbsolutZer0_v231 karma

  • What do you think about Beer Cicerones? Do you believe that its a bastardization of the Sommelier traditions, or a natural expansion into a similar field?

  • Do you think craft beer has the complexity to be compared to wines from a tasting experience perspective?

mgmresortsintl73 karma

I fully support anything that will educate the service staff of restaurants. Cicerones, mixology training etc are all excellent for restaurant world. Craft beer can be great although I'm not a fan of strongly bitter IPAs.

nyan_swanson27 karma

What kind of wine would you recommend drinking during a reddit AMA?

mgmresortsintl43 karma

Right now it's Corona. For wine I would go with Krug, Salon or Pierre Peters champagne. Anything that will keep me feeling refreshed for all of these questions.

DeapVally22 karma

Except that one with 10x the upvotes, you know, the top one, that you wont answer....

Edit. Nearly 20x now!

mgmresortsintl4 karma

I answered for you...come check it out.

uiseopak25 karma

Hey Jason! First congrats on the wine director of the year! My question is how much and what has changed in the wine world in Vegas from your days at Michael Mina to now?

mgmresortsintl21 karma

Thanks very much! I was very excited about the award. What I'm most excited about is the incredible increase in quality of food/restaurants in Las Vegas. It's not all about celebrity chefs (even though they're here), but there are amazing people like Roy Ellamar at Harvest at Bellagio making spectacular cuisine.

figjam2323 karma

Sommeliers being big fans of 'bad' frat house beer is kind of a thing. (High Life, Tecate, Corona, PBR) Why do you think that is?

mgmresortsintl48 karma

Good question. I fall into this category as well. After drinking wine all day the last thing you want is something else that is bitter. You are looking for light and refreshing and the beers you mention fit this perfectly. My personal choice right now is the Champagne of Beers.

zacharyan10018 karma

Which brand of wine should I buy if I want to drink it in 30 years?

mgmresortsintl54 karma

Go with classics that are made to age: Bordeaux, California Cabernet, Brunello di Montalcino. Make sure you select excellent producers from strong vintages. I would suggest getting a case of wine and drinking those bottles over the years...maybe a bottle every 1 or 2 years. This will show you how wine changes as it ages.

callsyouamoron27 karma

Make sure you select excellent producers from strong vintages.

I think the point would be that we average humans would not know that information...What would you recommend?

mgmresortsintl7 karma

Here are a few...lots of other options too. Bordeaux producers: Chateau Pichon Lalande, Chateau Clarisse, Chateau Troplong Mondot, Chateau Phelan Segur. Bordeaux vintages: 2000, 2005, 2009, 2010. California Cabernet: Favia, Grace Family, Shafer Hillside Select, Lewis Cellars Reserve. Cali vintages: 2007, 08, 09 12. Brunello producers: Valdicava, Soldera, Poggio Antico, Solaia (although not a Brunello). Brunello vintages: 2010, 2006, 2004.

figjam2317 karma

What wine pairs best when your listening to Lil Wayne, compared to say Phish?

mgmresortsintl39 karma

Lil Wayne calls for something like Ace of Spades or Cristal. Phish is anything that will make you want to dread your hair and make you wear patch work corduroy.

I_EAT_MANY_TACOS17 karma

I'm really into beer and want to get into wine. To find out how "good" a beer is, I can read untapp'd reviews or beeradvocate reviews before I purchase it. Is there an equivalent way of determining how good a wine is that isn't reviews from someone like you?

Also there's the beeradvocate top 250 list which is kind of a bucket list of beers to try, anything similar for wine?

mgmresortsintl20 karma

Good question. I'm able to taste enough wine so that I don't have to rely on reviewers, but there are some good ones out there. Through trial and error try to find one whose comments seem to fit one that you'd like. The closest thing I can think of to that list are various magazines top 100 of the year. Personally it doesn't make sense to compare a Cabernet from Napa to champagne to pinot grigio, but this should give you a couple fun ones to try.

Joopacabra16 karma

All wine to me tastes the same (Each type that is). I can't taste the difference. I was at a work dinner with a client in vegas, and they requested an expensiver (to me >$4-800, i had a buzz already) bottle, and the wine pouring dude lit a candle, then poured the wine over the candle. He mentioned something something about impurities and other words, but all I kept thinking was "I could do that to get laid and make a huge mess when the glass breaks". Then, everyone at the table was talking about all of the different notes and hints of whatever, then it got to my turn. Personally, it tasted like a grapey jet fuel.

So, how do I taste all of the hints and stuff and less of the jet fuel?

mgmresortsintl4 karma

Wine poured over a candle is decanting...essentially just removing the wine from the natural sediment in the bottle. If this were to help you with the ladies, than I'm all for it and best of luck. Not sure you need to break the bottle though. As far as no jet fuel...maybe just drink better wine?? Not sure what kind of stuff you have been consuming.

crys_lee15 karma

As a Master Somm and leading over 50 Somms, the most common question asked is probably, "what should I pair with this?". From all the restaurants within the brand along with the different food and wine combinations, what would you say is one of the most unexpected pairings?

mgmresortsintl43 karma

I really believe that people need to drink what they like with food they want to eat. Too often people are worried about a magical perfect pairing when they should be focused on having a great time with friends and family. An actual pairing would be Michael Mina's Tuna Tartare with a German Riesling Kabinett....effing killer!!

FootballCTE14 karma

How much ass do you get?

mgmresortsintl29 karma

Hey-oooooooo...

KenBone71612 karma

I've been having trouble understanding the difference between Syrah and Shiraz. Can you please elaborate on how to tell these wines apart? It has been on my noodle for some time!

mgmresortsintl22 karma

At its most basic, Shiraz is Australian and Syrah is from the rest of the world, but they are the exact same grape variety. As far as what's in the bottom, Shiraz will be more powerful and jammy, whereas Syrah will have more earthy characteristics.

_Calistoga_11 karma

When shopping for wine, how can you tell a high quality wine from not-so-good? What should we look for on labels? Or is it all trial and error?

mgmresortsintl15 karma

Labels, bottle size, etc. won't tell you anything. Try to establish a relationship with a trusted Sommelier or retailer and they will be able to guide you to great selections.

phelatiofyllis8 karma

Which regions and varietals have caught your attention in recent years that have not previously been on your radar? I've heard great things about Armenian wines and I love that I can get a great bottle of Lodi Zinfandel for less than $15, are there any regions that you believe will become renowned in the near future?

What are your favorite budget wines and wineries?

mgmresortsintl11 karma

I'm a big fan of the following: Washington state: Columbia Valley, Walla Walla Spain still has areas that we will see growth from Lodi offers value, but it is already a very warm region. If you like jammy and fruity wines it is an area you will continue to like.

kayluhhjay8 karma

On an average day how much wine do you drink? How does it feel to be in your early 30s and oversee the entire wine program for such a large international company?

mgmresortsintl16 karma

Thanks for saying early 30s...you are now my favorite commentor. I am super lucky to work with an amazing team of wine professionals at MGM Resorts...I say thanks every day. On average I probably taste 10 wines...with some days being much much more and some none.

randomchic1237 karma

hi! very random question if you don't mind.

I never really enjoyed wine nor appreciated the "pairing" of wine with food methodology. except once. years ago, I remember distinctly having a Pinot noir with garlicky seafood pasta. and a few sips in paired with the food, the combined flavor - more so the after taste than the actual flavor of what I was consuming - was incredible. it is hard to explain, but I thought I understood what people meant by properly pairing your wine with food.

I was never able to experience that again and have yet to enjoy a wine that much a second time. there are some wines I kind of like, but nothing like that.

any recommendations on how I can formulate that condition again?

mgmresortsintl14 karma

First drink what you like, eat what you like and do it with great friends. This is a method that will always result in a fun time. Here are some very classic food and wine pairings that will hopefully give you that same result: roquefort blue cheese and Sauternes (bordeaux sweet wine) oysters on the half shell and Muscadet or Chablis Roasted Squab breast and red burgundy or Nebbiolo

logicalnoise7 karma

Hey we were at Picasso last winter and I'll be honest we got the cheapest Moscato available. Even so the wine was delicious and that meal was the highlight of the trip. SO my question is how do you plan for people like me who will favor the food over the drinks?

mgmresortsintl7 karma

Great to hear about Picasso. Love that place! Our goal is to provide an amazing experience for everyone whether wine expert or novice.

aaronthe7god7 karma

Never know what type of wine to buy when going to a friend's place for dinner. Any safe go-to wines? #turnt #2016

mgmresortsintl18 karma

Champagne! Not only is it delicious, but it goes with everything, especially big bottles.

Digging_For_Ostrich6 karma

I've found as I get older, the acidity in champagne and white wine really makes my stomach play up, reflux and all that. Are there any options which might affect me less, because I don't want to stop drinking either?

mgmresortsintl12 karma

A couple of thoughts: try not drinking on an empty stomach...wait until as least lunch to start. Experiment with whites that have a lower acidity level: viognier, gewurztraminer, marsanne / rousanne.

Digging_For_Ostrich6 karma

Thanks Jason, this is an interesting AMA!

When choosing wines for in-room versus conferences versus restaurants, what are the things that you think about, price, quality etc... or are there different things you need to consider because maybe one wine sells more in-room than in a restaurant, or one wine is cheaper and still good, so give it to conferences (just examples, trying to wrap my head around this one!!!)?

Likewise, do you choose different wines for similar class restaurants in different Casinos, for example, if one restaurant is more creative and one is more traditional?

mgmresortsintl7 karma

Choosing wines for the places you mentioned are essentially the same as selecting for different restaurants. In room I think about something soft and easy to drink. Usually 1 PN, 1 chard and 1 champagne. Lots of the choices in catering are made based on price because of budget restraints of our guests. We try to offer the best value we can to these choices and usually more new world items. One of our main goals is to keep each of the wine programs unique in the restaurants. You are having a different food experience, so the wine should follow suit.

sushidisco5 karma

I'm fairly new to wine, and a Vegas local. Do you recommend a place in Vegas where I can start learning about wine tasting?

mgmresortsintl8 karma

Olives at Bellagio is a great choice. Lots of wines by the glass, two excellent sommeliers to answer your questions. Libertine Social in Mandalay Bay would also be another options. Remember to never take it too serious and have fun with your learning!

SnarkyMcFartBlast5 karma

Is Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay really that good? Any good years you can recommend?

mgmresortsintl8 karma

Pretty tasty stuff and good value.

goofball_jones5 karma

Not to put you on the spot, but what do you think of something like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PeKcWCC-tw

The relevant part: "Wine is wonderful. Of course wine tastes different, it's just totally subjective. like all foods. We don't need "sandwich experts" because we know what we like. There's no objective truth to what "tastes best". What you may like isn't what everyone likes.

mgmresortsintl3 karma

Number 1, it's a pretty funny video! As humans I think it is easy to be influenced by outside sources: other peoples opinions, what we expect the wine to be etc. That is way blind tasting is so important for an evaluation setting...you are totally focusing on just the wine. Regardless if some "wine experts" can be tricked during a tasting, a sommelier can still make a dinner more special and memorable. They will be the most knowledgeable about the wine list and should guide people towards wines that will give the guest the best experience. The good ones will provide what the diner is looking for, not what the sommelier wants to sell. The biggest take away from this video is the last minute or so. Absolutely drink what you like, don't take wine too seriously and have fun with it! It is just a beverage on the table that should be shared and enjoyed with friends.

cobaltcollapse5 karma

Do you have a favorite cheap (>$20) wine?

mgmresortsintl25 karma

I always had trouble with < and > in school, so I will give you both: Less than $20: Erioca Riesling, Washington State. A touch off dry and awesome with lots of food. More than $20: Lioco Pinot Noir from Sonoma.

fatback_grosero5 karma

I also work in the wine business and am blown away by the prices of some of our wines. What's the most expensive wine you've poured or drank? What do you think is the best wine in Napa?

mgmresortsintl9 karma

Most expensive wine would be 1945 Mouton Rothschild magnum or 1990 Domaine de la Romanee Conti "Romanee Conti". Too many napa wines to narrow it to just one: Shafer Hillside Select, Grace Family,

AdOpsDude4 karma

1945 Mouton Rothschild magnum

How much was that?

mgmresortsintl13 karma

This was quite a few years ago and it was directly from the owners cellar. I would estimate that they paid $20k+

MorsOmniaAequat5 karma

Local Las Vegan here.

Best restaurant (for food or wine) off-strip?

Best MGM property restaurant (food or wine)?

Also, what is you opinion on wine bars with the automated pouring and card systems?

mgmresortsintl2 karma

Off strip restaurant: Chada Street or Lotus of Siam Best MGM Resorts restaurant: Prime for steak, Harvest for farm to table, Sage, and Carbone for Italian. I have never been a huge fan of the wine bars with automated systems.

InfernalWedgie4 karma

When did you decide you wanted to be a somm? What is your favorite style, region, and varietal? Do you have a special "pet peeve" wine that draws your most ire for being overpriced and overrated?

mgmresortsintl9 karma

I always wanted to be a professional alcoholic from a very young age. I went to CIA in Hyde Park NY and after i took the wine class I knew I wanted to be a sommelier. My favorite wines are white and red burgundy and Champagne. I'm not a fan of "orange wine" and some of those can be very expensive. Unfortunately it seems that some of the sommelier world is pushing that towards their guests.

NoSleepTilBrooklyn934 karma

I am currently eating craft Mac and cheese with grilled oscar Meyers hot dogs. What wine would go well with this?

mgmresortsintl2 karma

I would say skip the wine and drink beer! If you wanted to stick with a wine for sure, go with lighter bodied red: California Pinot Noir or Italian Barbera.

lolnottelling4 karma

What's the best wine for Chinese food? Particularly Beijing and Hong Kong dishes.

Any wines with a cat pee palate you could recommend? Morbid curiosity in my part.

mgmresortsintl6 karma

Cat pee! Whoah! You dirty. That's interesting. As far as Chinese cuisine, nothing beats German Riesling ... especially wines that have a touch of sweetness.

lolnottelling-24 karma

Ok, how about narrowing that down a bit? There's got to be a hundred German Rieslings. Why not something from Ontario? Aren't there Gold Coast Rieslings as well?

Also I legit want to try a wine that has a cat pee flavor. Not because I like cat pee, in fact I do not, but I need this in my repertoire as I have no reference currently.

Care to take a stab at actually answering any of my questions? I know you're good at impressing tourists but do you actually know anything about wine?

mgmresortsintl8 karma

ouch! I actually don't know shhhht, they just put me in front of a computer and told me to type! My fave German riesling producers: Franz Kunstler, Donnhoff, Josef Leitz. New Zealand SB is the best place to go for that green, vegetal, cat pee thing. Kim Crawford, Whitehaven etc

strongman_majik4 karma

As a Canadian, Calfornia wines are normally insanely priced here... well Napa and Sonoma ones. I once had the luxury of my work paying for a brilliant Napa valley red on a business trip and am wondering, what would be a good cost effective red that compares? Cabernets and Syrahs are my usual go to reds. Also if you recommend anything from Niagara.... I am be upset and visit the winery itself.

mgmresortsintl22 karma

Canadian wine taxes are expensive AF. Unfortunately, all American wines will be overpriced in Canada. I was recently in Okanagan and found some excellent Merlot, Cab and Pinot noir from there.

manwhothe5 karma

Burrowing owl and mission hill?

mgmresortsintl17 karma

I was very impressed with Mission Hill and their sister wineries. I had an excellent Syrah from Burrowing Owl as well.

KenBone7164 karma

This is a two parter..

Can you recommend a wine that is good for spectator events? Suchas presidential debates.. or nascar?

Second, Am I able to make wine out of the grapes I currently buy from my local grocery store in order to save a little money?

mgmresortsintl20 karma

Presidential debate = high alcohol wine aka Vodka. For Nascar I would go with beer, but essentially any wine you enjoy should work for a lot of those occasions. Any fruit with sugar in it technically can be fermented to make alcohol, although I think you would be better off buying a bottle from the store. You can get some for as inexpensive as $5.

FanOfGoodMovies3 karma

I've heard Burgundy is versatile. What pairs with it?

mgmresortsintl8 karma

White burgundy is 100% chardonnay, but made in a lighter, refreshing style. Everything from shellfish to halibut to tuna can pair well. Red burgundy is 100% Pinot Noir which is the most versatile red grape. Heavier seafood dishes, chicken, game birds, mushroom dishes, etc etc. The possibilities are huge!!

kayluhhjay3 karma

Also, I'm new to this whole alcohol business. What would you recommended I try out for my first drink of wine? Does "favorite commentor" mean you are open for a 1-on-1 wine tutorial meeting when I come to Vegas? I would love to hear more about your extensive knowledge of wine.

mgmresortsintl5 karma

For your very, very first taste of wine? That's a lot of pressure. German Riesling Kabinett from Dr. Loosen or Monchhoff. These will have a touch of sweetness and be refreshing to drink. They are also excellent food wines.

reaper9873 karma

Hi Jason, have you tried wines from Czech republic?

mgmresortsintl4 karma

I have not had the pleasure.

B52Bombsell3 karma

Hi Jason. Two weeks ago I went to Las Vegas for the first time at a convention. I got a little tipsy and walked everywhere. I found myself in the Bellagio and I got lost. I ended up in the employee area and around the back dock. Two security guards and a chef helped me find my way back. I just wanted to let you know how courteous, kind and helpful they all were and I appreciate that they were so gentlemanly. Anyway, can you recommend an Ice Wine?

mgmresortsintl1 karma

Awesome...thanks for the kind words. To me the best ice wines come from Germany. Some of my favorites are from: Gunderloch, Dr Loosen and Donnhoff.

JLBmasseto3 karma

Hi Jason, I won't be mean and play stump the M.S. In your opinion, who is the best blind taster? Does not have to be an M.S. Or M.W.

mgmresortsintl5 karma

Rajat Parr, Larry Stone and Richard Betts are all epic blind tasters. Maybe some day I will grow up and be as good as them.

Brian_isnt_working2 karma

Have you ever tried to provide tasting notes on truly awful wines like Thunderbird or MadDog? I have a moderately sensitive palate but I could never taste anything in them other than "sweet" and "gross"

mgmresortsintl9 karma

Sweet and gross would be the first three words of my tasting note. I would recommend staying away from it in general.

LowlifeGorilla2 karma

Hi, thanks for doing this AMA! I'm attending the WSET Level 2 course in my area next month to start my sommelier career. After that I plan on attending a CMS course as well. Do you think this is a good plan of action? Any suggestions to further myself besides those two programs?

mgmresortsintl3 karma

That sounds like an excellent plan. Also, keep tasting, reading and studying. Try to find a mentor to work with to improve your service skills and to learn how to actually run a wine program. Good luck!

LowlifeGorilla2 karma

Thank you! Another question; what do you look for when hiring people for your wine program?

mgmresortsintl2 karma

The most important thing is a great attitude. This is something that cannot be taught. Others are a passion for food and wine, a desire to learn and a willingness to help others on the team.

rowenstraker2 karma

What do you think about the stuff coming out of caduceus cellars (I.e. the frontman of TOOL's foray into winemaking) do you think it is legit, or just some rich rockstar's way to pass time? Thanks in advance

mgmresortsintl4 karma

I'm familiar with the winery, but I have never tried the wines. I look forward to in the future...looks like a great project.

MeatHead0072 karma

Why are there so many people that debunk Sommeliers? Can you a prove that its not a garbage science? There have been many videos of blind tastings where Master Sommeliers are given cheap wine and told that it's expensive and they don't know the difference.

mgmresortsintl3 karma

To quote the movie The Interview: "they hate us, cause they ain't us." It can certainly happen that knowledgeable sommeliers are tricked, but I'm not aware of "many videos" where Master Sommeliers mistook cheap wines for expensive ones. I would be interested to see so I can give that person a hard time.

jaf4882 karma

Good afternoon, MS Smith,. I am applying to take the advanced course in a few days, any advice?

mgmresortsintl2 karma

Congratulations on even taking that step and best of luck. Focus a ton of energy on your theory. Your blind tasting and service skills will greatly increase as your general knowledge does. Work with a mentor in your area and ideally a master sommelier or someone who has taken the masters exam. The vast majority of us are willing to help, but you have to ask!

JLBmasseto2 karma

Did you ever want to make wine? And if so, what varietal and if you could choose any region, where?

mgmresortsintl5 karma

Never had a strong desire to make wine. I can't imagine making a decision today that you wouldn't be able to experience for years and you need to this countless times making wine. If I had my choice, I would make Chard/Pinot on the Sonoma Coast in California.

AdOpsDude2 karma

Thanks for doing an AMA. They're different programs, but from what you know about it, do you think the Master of Wine designation is worth the effort that goes into achieving it? I'm thinking of pursuing it but from some reviews and interviews that I've read from people who have achieved the MW designation, they've said that it's been great for personal growth but hasn't helped them achieve much more than that (besides knowing more about wine than most people).

What is your favorite new world Riesling?

Also, can you make a suggestion for a new world Pinot Noir that is amazing but isn't well known?

mgmresortsintl4 karma

Achieving the MS was incredibly rewarding for me and it also helped open a lot of doors in my career. I do not know as much about the MW which is more about wine making or writing. Favorite NW Riesling: Eroica from WA or Tantalus from Okanagan. NW Pinot Noir: Lioco, Hirsch Vineyards, Domaine de la Cote, Sandhi

figjam232 karma

Have you ever tried a Pinot Grigio that you actually liked, Be Honest?

mgmresortsintl4 karma

Absolutely! Although I agree that in most cases it tastes like watery alcohol with no flavor there are some excellent producers: Livio Felluga Schiopetto

JLBmasseto2 karma

And what was the best wine you ever drank? Cannot be 47 cheval, 99 la tache, any 61 Bordeaux, etc. something more accessible.

mgmresortsintl6 karma

It's always too easy to say wines like 45 Mouton, but some of the best wines have been great experiences with wines that were made by friends. For example, Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir with Jasmine Hirsch, some of Richard Bett's wines and Lewis Cellars with one of the greats, Randy Lewis.

darsonpb2 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA. I have two questions: 1) I am partial to dry red wines and have been averse getting into whites. How do I get started into white wine? 2) Is there any type of wine for the calorie conscious? Hope I don't get hate for this question :)

mgmresortsintl2 karma

Here are a few white wines that are fuller and more powerful. They might ease you into enjoying whites: Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc Crozes-Hermitage blanc Viognier

Most of the calories in wine will come from the alcohol and/or sugar. Therefore look for dry (meaning no sugar), low alcohol ones.

winelover11342 karma

Any plans to write a book?

mgmresortsintl2 karma

I have done the tastings notes for two of Charlie Trotter's cookbooks: "Raw" and "Workin: More Kitchen Sessions with Charlie Trotter". Those were such learning experiences, but no plans for now.

Nipherders2 karma

Thanks for taking the time and doing this. A few questions:

  • I'm a big fan of Cab francs.. what's your opinion on them? any recommendations on a particular one?

  • Ever try 3 penis wine? Thoughts?

mgmresortsintl1 karma

Cab Francs: Baudry Chinon (very earthy, light bodied) Charles Joguet Chinon Lieu Dit Pride No clue about that last one, though.

Bannonpants2 karma

What do you think of Trader Joe's wines?, more so than just the Charles Shaw.....they have a lot of wine from all over the world

mgmresortsintl6 karma

I have done some food shopping there, but never spent much time looking at the wine selection.

toomuchkalesalad1 karma

Hi Jason! Thanks for doing this AMA.

I would really like to enjoy wine more but usually after a glass I get insane headaches, sometimes migraines. Are there wine varietals that are lower in sulfites for me to enjoy? (I'm assuming it's the sulfites because that's what google tells me)

mgmresortsintl2 karma

It is highly unlikely that these headaches are occurring from sulfites. Have you ever had a bag of pre-sliced apples that are magically not brown? Those and many other fruits, both fresh and dried, are heavily dosed with sulfites. They are also a naturally occurring by-product of the fermentation process. I would recommend to speak with an doctor that specializes in allergies...they could probably more define the issue.

gotwaffles1 karma

What's the best bang for your buck wine?

mgmresortsintl2 karma

That's a really broad question...white or red? Full bodied or lighter? Sparkling or still?

zerochaos1 karma

Do you think Alan K drinks boxed wine?

mgmresortsintl2 karma

Naaahhhh...that guy has all sorts of class.

Machallan121 karma

I work in fine dining, and just recently got promoted to serving. Any advice on learning more about wine when I don't drink? The more I read about it, the more I realize I have so much to learn lol

mgmresortsintl1 karma

If you don't drink, continue reading and studying. Also, consider just smelling the wine if that is okay for you. That will give you a fairly strong indication of what it will be like.

misticglass1 karma

since im assuming you drink wine everyday would you consider yourself an alchoholic? how often do you have enough to get drunk?

mgmresortsintl1 karma

I drink / taste wine almost everyday. I don't think I'm an alcoholic because I never need to drink. It is easy for me to go several days without having any. On days that I know I will be tasting 30+ wines, I make sure that I have something to eat prior so I'm not on an empty stomach and also spit every wine.

dominaustin1 karma

A wine in Vegas turned me into a regular wine drinker. I finally understood. I love high acid reds but struggle to find them with that tingly high acid quality that happens during and after swallowing. Sometimes I find it in a Cab or Australian Syrah, or maybe whatever random Malbec the restaurants are serving. But I had an Italian red of unknown variety when I was in Vegas that turned me into a wine drinker and it had that quality where it almost tingles/burns. I used to describe it like pop rocks, as I have little wine vocabulary.

I have been searching for that same kick in a type of high acid red ever since then.

Are there any suggestions for full bodied red's that have hints of cherry/berry/chocolate (not sweet or overly dry) but have a very very strong acid kick/bite/tingles at the end?

Is there a wine term for the acidic tingly/bite/kick at the end?

Thank you so much for the AMA.

mgmresortsintl1 karma

Italian Barbera would be a great option. It is fruity without being overly so and also high acid. Nebbiolo (like Barolo or Barbaresco) may work as well, but these will be tannic. Good luck in your search!

Drinksandbird1 karma

What is your opinion on watching the cocktail and craft spirits movement taking steps into the restaurant, as well as the bartenders role outside of wine when it comes to flavor pairings and food matching over wine? Do you drink many spirits or mixed drinks yourself?

I'd also love to hear your opinion of wine in cocktails outside of vermouths.

mgmresortsintl1 karma

I'm a big fan of well made cocktails and often drink them before, during and after dinner. My usual drink is a negroni, but I also like Manhattans, Boulvardiers, Bourbon, Rye etc. Anything that makes a guest's experience in a restaurant more special is a positive to me and the craft cocktail movement certainly fits. One thing that I dislike are cocktails that take an eternity to be served or ones that have 15 different ingredients in them and aren't balanced. I haven't had a lot of wine in cocktails, but I know that is starting to become more common.

Phonda1 karma

How do you feel about those "blind taste tests" where they put wine experts against cheap and expensive wines and have them compare?

mgmresortsintl1 karma

If anyone is truly confident about their skills and knowledge about wine, they should feel comfortable about doing this. That being said, blind tasting is very humbling! I have missed many, many wines, and no one should be expected to get 100% correct. However, you can put a $5/btl and a $25+/btl in front of me blind and I will happily take that challenge.

OriginalBad1 karma

My wife works in the wine industry as a tasting room manager for a popular winery. Her employer is offering to pay half of her somm class costs.

Is it something she should do? She's interested in branching out, but is it worth the investment?

mgmresortsintl1 karma

I think that any form of wine education is a good thing. It will just help her if she wants to continue in the wine world. Best of luck to her!

daitoshi1 karma

Do you know any Sommeliers who prefer to drink the "fruity" wines in their free time?

Like, not "with fruity notes" but wines that actually taste strongly of fruit juices, that are sweet and refreshing.

mgmresortsintl2 karma

One of the favorite wines of sommeliers are Rieslings from Germany. These tend to be fruit forward, super refreshing and can have sweetness. Plus they are absolutely delicious! Not sure if that falls in the same category you are referring to, but they are yummy.

thestooshie1 karma

Why do I dislike most off-the-shelf white wine? What is it that makes affordable white offerings so unpalatable?

I guess the same goes for red to a certain extent.

Essentially, what makes a cheap wine cheap?

mgmresortsintl1 karma

The ingredients that go into making the wine. They will be the lowest quality grapes, made in an industrial fashion and most likely in a place that looks more like an oil refinery than winery.

apollopa1 karma

I am currently practicing using the Wset format, I've been doing it for about 6 months and believe I have covered the basics. Do you have any advice? Just top of the head stuff? Maybe something a lot of people don't think about?

mgmresortsintl2 karma

Remember to keep wine fun and interesting, make sure it doesn't turn into a chore for you. Read a lot and get a mentor that can help guide you.