It may seem like sommeliers only drink exceptional vino sourced from family-owned plots in enchanted valleys and noble hillsides. Turns out, that’s only partially true. Even the most esteemed wine professionals have guilty pleasures.
We asked 10 sommeliers to share their off-the-clock indulgences, from Boilermakers to Robitussin Highballs.
“I’ll be honest. I drink a lot of gin Boilermakers. Pour half a shot of gin — preferably Tanqueray or Boodles — in a big American IPA and it will not only enhance all the hops and botanicals of the IPA style, but also give off tons of citrus, juniper, and floral notes. I like it so much, I’ll even slug ’em back when everyone’s watching!” — Evan Danielson, Lead Sommelier and Beverage Director, City Winery, Nashville
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“If it’s not Budweiser and shots of Jameson, it’s probably a shot of Campari dropped into a bottle of Miller High Life. It’s basically a lowbrow Champagne cocktail, right?” — Gregory Stokes, Manager and Sommelier, Veritas, Columbus, Ohio
“VinePair, are you really asking me to reveal this deep dark secret? O.K., here’s the tea… I have jumped on the premixed cocktail bandwagon! Don’t judge me, there are a few good ones on the market! One of my go-tos (when no one’s watching) is the Lolea Sangria Red. Made from natural ingredients, this pre-mixed sangria is fresh, lively, and takes me back to Alcalá Street in Madrid, Spain! I like to get fancy and add a few fresh frozen berries to this lightly sparkling cocktail, a wedge of lemon as garnish, and serve. ¡Vamos á tepear! This pre-mixed sangria is nothing to be ashamed of. Oh, let them watch!” — Regine Rousseau, Author and CEO, Shall We Wine?
“Trimbach Riesling from Alsace, France. About $17. This wine is so delicious, I don’t care if anyone is watching! In my job, I constantly taste a large number of wines, and it can get pretty fatiguing on my palate. This Riesling is bone dry with crisp notes of green apples, lemon, and tropical fruits. And because it has incredible, crackling acidity, it quenches and refreshes my sometimes-overstimulated palate. The Trimbach Riesling is always well stocked on my wine rack!” — Claire Coppi, Mirabelle Wine Bar, Los Angeles
“After a long day or on the weekends, I drink chilled cru Beaujolais at home from a Picardie tumbler. I love serving fancy wine but for myself, I want no-fuss and simple. French bistro glassware is also my guilty pleasure.” — Victoria James, Beverage Director, Cote, NYC
“I’ve been known to keep small-format white and red wines in the cupboard and fridge for cooking. If I’m being honest, I will often take a quick pull before deglazing or simmering. With some of the new canned wines available these days, I might open one for the chicken and pasta, and a second one just for me!” — Mat Snapp, Beverage Director, North Italia, Nationwide
“There is no shame in drinking rosé.” — Angel Cayllahua, Assistant General Manager, Roka Akor, San Francisco
“The single most polarizing bottle in my cabinet is Cynar, and for good reason… Its primary ingredient is artichokes. Yes, artichokes. It’s a rich deep molasses color, with a bittersweet flavor that screams of artichoke with a sweet herbaceous backbone. I honestly adore it on the rocks with a twist of orange after dinner. Though I’ve had more than a few colleagues turn up their nose at the stuff, it doesn’t phase me in the slightest.” — Jules Elkovich, Sommelier, Michael Jordan’s Steak House, Uncasville, Conn.
“I drink the same wines regardless of if anyone’s watching or not: boutique, high-quality wines that are delicious and at a great price. A current favorite is Domaine Gerovassiliou Malagousia 2016 — a super-aromatic, complex, dry white wine from the northern part of Greece. It pairs equally well with a three-course meal or hanging out at home watching Netflix.” — Ronald Buyukliev, Lead Sommelier, Estiatorio Milos, Las Vegas
“The list of liquids I am inexplicably and regrettably consuming for energy/survival/to make it through the day are like a high school vending machine: Starbucks Bottled Mocha Frappuccinos, Robitussin Highballs, and green or purple Gatorades. On the less teenage side, when I consume things for flavor and enjoyment, it’s Golden Road Mango Cart Wheat Beer, Soto Super Premium Sake, and Tia Maria (honestly, do you know how good this stuff tastes? If you haven’t tried it this century, do yourself a favor and have one. It’s like melted ice cream).” — Jeremy Allen, General Manager and Lead Bartender, MiniBar Hollywood, Los Angeles