What do you like to drink after a shift? “After a busy shift, there aren’t many things more refreshing or rewarding than a Gin & Tonic.”
What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? “Led Zeppelin, ‘Over the Hills and Far Away.’”
Name the first good wine you ever drank and where you had it. “The first wine that shook me to the core was Jean-Louis Chave Hermitage 1989. I was a cellar hand at Tribeca Grill at the time, and working an Acker Merrall auction that was hosted in the restaurant’s private events space. The wine’s depth, intensity, nuance, and overall complexity convinced me that this was a career worth pursuing. I will never forget that bottle, and the world of wine it opened me up to.”
What book on wine, cocktails, spirits or food is your go-to resource? “In 2018, it is hard to say with so many great resources out there. Initially, it was certainly The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson. Nowadays, I would say Inside Burgundy by Jasper Morris and The Complete Bordeaux by Stephen Brook are the most important to me.”
Name the wine region that took you the longest to truly understand. “I found Châteauneuf-du-Pape took the longest to truly understand. With thirteen grapes permitted (fifteen if you count the white mutations of Grenache and Picpoul), 134 different vineyards, and many different soil types present, there are endless combinations and possibilities. While it is easy to have a general idea of what the wines are like, it is nearly impossible to grasp the incredible diversity of the region.”
What’s your favorite wine and food pairing? “Chablis and anything involving shellfish.”
What’s the most common wine myth you have to debunk? “That fruitiness in wine is not the same as sweetness.”
What’s your favorite bottle of wine under $20? “Austrian Grüner Veltliner is my favorite. The number of quality labels you can find in a wine store for under $20 is incredible these days. Not to mention the grapes versatility with food that few others can match.”
What’s your favorite bottle of wine over $1,000? “While these wines are enjoyed only on rare occasion, one of the most moving Burgundies that I have had was the Domaine Joseph Roty Charmes Chambertin Grand Cru–Très Vieilles Vignes 1993. I don’t know what the perfect bottle of wine is, but this one certainly contends.”
What tool do you use to open a bottle? “A straight-forward pulltap double-hinged corkscrew is my go-to most of the time. It is a simple and inexpensive design that suits my needs. I utilize the Durand to extract delicate or compromised corks.”
Josh MacGregor is the head sommelier at New York’s acclaimed db Bistro Moderne.
Interview has been condensed and edited.