Going 10 Rounds With Top Sommelier Julien Moreno
The head sommelier at Alain Ducasse’s restaurant Benoit New York tackles our speed round of questions.
What do you like to drink after a shift? “When I am in the mood for a cocktail after a shift, I will go for an Old-Fashioned or a version of it, such as the Bananas Foster from the bar Angel’s Share. I like exploring local bars and other ventures, because in addition to it being a time to relax, it is a good source of inspiration.”
What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? “The Rolling Stones “Paint It, Black.” It is my motivation song–the sound of a good time!”
Name the first good drink you ever drank and where you had it. “One of the first ‘good wines’ I tasted was the Chambertin Grand Cru-Domaine Armand Rousseau 1990.”
What book on wine is your go-to resource? “The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson. If I need some information, this is the book I often go back to. I also read Wine Spectator, which is my go-to resource to stay aware of what is happening in the wine industry and all the technical content.”
Name the wine region that took you the longest to truly understand. “The most challenging wine region for me to understand and learn was Germany. As a non-German speaker, the appellations are quite complicated to learn and to remember.”
What’s your favorite wine and food pairing? “I had the opportunity to pair Kaluga caviar, king crab from Alaska and sauce vin jaune with a Savagnin Ouillé from Jura. The lightness and fruitiness of the wine married with the delicateness of the seafood.”
What’s the most common wine myth you have to debunk? “The most common myth I have to debunk is that good wine comes with a hefty price tag. Do not hesitate to ask the sommelier to give you a selection of wine in your price range. In most cases, people seem to be afraid or nervous to talk to sommeliers because they have the idea we’ll push expensive bottles. But do not hesitate to ask us, and the sommelier will give you a selection of wine in your price range.”
What’s your favorite bottle of wine under $20? “Côtes-du-Rhône Petit Ours Brun Matthieu Barret 2017. These wines are in to the true expression of terroir and fruit and elegance, without being overpowering like some other wines of this appellation.”
What’s your favorite bottle of wine over $1,000? “Chambertin Grand Cru-Domaine Armand Rousseau 1990.”
What tool do you use to open a bottle? “I use a waiter’s corkscrew to open most of the bottles and an Ah-so wine opener for older vintages to avoid old corks breaking and dropping into the bottle.”
Julien Moreno is the head sommelier at Alain Ducasse’s restaurant, Benoit New York.
Interview has been condensed and edited.