Going 10 Rounds with Sommelier Ryan Bailey
The wine director at the newly opened NoMad Los Angeles tackles our speed round of questions.
What do you like to drink after a shift? “Beer! Evil Twin NOMADer WEISSE to be specific—it is a Berliner Weisse style beer and our team collaborated with Jeppe, the founder of Evil Twin, to make it. The taste reminds me of potato chips. It is everything I crave at the end of the night.”
What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? “‘A Boy Named Sue’ by Johnny Cash. That song always seems to put a smile on peoples’ faces at a dive bar.”
Name the first good wine you ever drank and where you had it. “When I was in high school and college, I used to work at a restaurant in Sonoma called the General’s Daughter. I tasted all sorts of wines during my time there but most were from the surrounding area. It wasn’t until my first trip down to San Francisco’s RN74 that I experienced my first great Burgundy. I remember it was shortly after my 21st birthday. I literally had a white envelope full of tips from the night before and ended up investing in a bottle of ’05 Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Nuits St. Georges 1er Cru Clos de la Maréchale. To this day, it’s still one of my favorites. Now that I think of it: that was my first bottle of wine I bought without a fake ID.”
What book on wine, cocktails, spirits or food is your go-to resource? “Peter Liem’s new Champagne book is really great. For cocktails, lately, I’ve been digging into Jane Danger’s Cuban Cocktails: 100 Classic and Modern Drinks.”
Name the wine region that took you the longest to truly understand. “Italy for sure, and it is still an active work in progress! There’s so much diversity and history behind Italian winemaking, so gaining familiarity with it all is definitely a rewarding challenge.”
What’s your favorite wine and food pairing? “Fried chicken and really old, off dry German Riesling.”
Ever appropriate to sip white wine at room temperature? “It’s kind of like a steak: Sure, you can let it ‘rest’—but I prefer not to let a bottle of white fully get to room temperature. But to each their own...”
What’s your favorite bottle of wine under $20? “Samuel Billaud, Petite Chablis Sur Les Clos 2015.”
What’s your favorite bottle of wine over $1,000? “Vintage Champagne, ’71 Salon or ’79 Krug Clos du Mesnil.”
What tool do you use to open a bottle? “My black NoMad pull tab! I prefer a pull tab-style wine key for its simplicity but I will have a Durand close by if I’m opening an older bottle.”
Ryan Bailey is the wine director of the new NoMad Los Angeles.
Interview has been condensed and edited.