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One wine professional's epiphany: Go your own way

A rewrite of one of my Bottom Line columns originally published in The SOMM Journal:
Everyone probably has a seminal moment – an epiphany, or sudden clarity of vision.
As a sommelier, mine came in early 1989; after over 10 years of managing wine programs in classic French restaurants and tableside service steakhouses.I’d done the wine lists steeped in French crus and gobs of California wine – and man, I was bored.I had also just begun to work for a chef named Roy Yamaguchi, who infused Asian ingredients – and hot, sour, salty, sweet, bitter and umami laced sensations – in every dish, even with classic French sauces or Latin vinaigrettes.
I was being challenged, and needed inspiration.So I went to Provence and Italy, ostensibly to immerse myself in more mature culinary cultures.My first stops were Bandol and Cassis; because I'd always loved the wines there, and longed to smell the air and absorb the traditions.This was a followed by a harrowing drive to Tuscany (crazy drivers who don&…

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"I fought against the bottle," as Leonard Cohen wrote, "but I had to do it drunk"... specializing in wine as a restaurateur, retailer, wine judge, journalist, frequent flyer and mental traveler. But to me, wine is a food like a rose is a rose. So why all the fuss? Currently: Editor-at-Large/Bottom Line Columnist, The SOMM Journal; Contributing Editor, The Tasting Panel. Awards: Sante's Wine & Food Professional of the Year (1998); Restaurant Wine's Wine Marketer of the Year (1992 & 1999); Academy of Wine Communications (commendation) for Excellence in Wine Writing and Encouragement of Higher Industry Standards; Electoral College Member, Vintners Hall of Fame at the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone.