Best of the Best
The Mr. Miyagi of Wine Sommeliers
Passing the Advanced Sommelier Exam isn’t easy, so many candidates trek to Aspen Mountain to train their palates with the best man in the business.
The man with the best palate in the world lives on Aspen Mountain, in a tucked-away cabin at the top of a walking path that disappears into the slope. His home doubles as a workshop where Master Sommelier candidates aiming to pass their blind tasting exams make pilgrimages in order to learn how to correctly identify flights of six wines.
“Let me tell you something,” he said when I arrived for my first appointment a couple of years ago. I had flown in from New York and driven four hours from Denver to learn from him. He’d agreed to taste with me after we met in Aspen, when I’d failed Blind Tasting on my Advanced Exam. “This is a game of logic. This is not a guessing game. The first thing you need to do, before anything else, is get over your fear.”
He annunciated “fear” with rising inflection, in a way that made it clear that was the point of our tasting—the point of any blind tasting, in an exam or otherwise. Those six wines represent the unknown.