EP 943 Tasting with Sommelier Rajat Parr Part 2

Gary Vaynerchuk and Rajat Parr conclude their tasting with some grower’s Champagne and talk more about the wine business.

Wines tasted in this episode:

Chartogne Taillet Cuvee St AnneFrench Brut Nonvintage

Links mentioned in todays episode.

Latest Comment:

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luca bercelli


Really good guest – humble, knowledgeable and able to hold his own with GV – (not many can)

Tags: Champagne, review, sparkling, Video, white, wine, wines

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  • Anonymous

    QOTD: This is my… area of expertise. As a fellow Sommelier and restaurant server of many years, I am extremely interested in what the WLTV comments peeps will post here. For me, it is extremely important that the person serving customers wine at any given restaurant should be well educated in the world of wine, should listen and tap into the specific needs of the customer (including style, price, and pairing of the wine with food ordered), and do so in a welcoming, informative, efficient, and UNPRETENTIOUS manner. I try to deliver this to all of my clientΓ¨le on a daily basis, and this is the benchmark for me when I go out to eat as well.

  • Anonymous

    You mean THE Timothy? You scared him away. πŸ™‚

  • Anonymous

    But where’s castello’s review of the 2004 Marion Valpolicella?

  • Anonymous

    QOTD: I have had very few experiences with a Sommelier. The best was at the Charleston Restaurant in Baltimore. I asked for a red that had bright fruit, cherry flavor. Can’t remember the wine (I think it was a Grand Cru, $110), but he was spot on with the selection. Wonderful evening!

  • Jag

    QOTD: Wine service in America? Generally poor. High end places with good Sommeliers are exceptions, but where the real effort belongs in the majority of restaurants is a) assembling a good list, and b) training the waitstaff. The general ability of servers to communicate information about the wines, let alone make reasonable suggestions is poor.

    My first real experience with wine (and a Sommelier) was on a trans atlantic ship quite a number of years ago. The Sommelier was extraordinary, interested and engaged. I would say he was key to my introduction to, and interest in wine today.

    Too many Sommeliers barely know their wines, let alone take the time to know their customers. Thankfully, there are exceptions.

    There is too much business and not enough passion in too many restaurants today.

  • Bobcaller

    What a Wanker. People like him scare people away from wine.

  • MB

    Hi Gary – great show. Rajat is an interesting guy and has much to say that is worth listening to.

    Given his and your comments on the huge quality and value of 2009 Beaujolais could you please do a show soon where you taste a range of different 09s and comment on them? Would be good to focus on superb wines that are available in Wine Library to buy. Just a thought but I think it would a great show and in line with many themes you have been highlighting – try new things, huge quality at good prices, spectacular 2009 vintage, Gamay is an under appreciated and under valued grape, huge opportunity to buy and taste fabulous affordable wine…

    QOTD : The quality of wine service in the US is improving. A good sommelier should do a number of things in my opinion (i) have an interesting wine list with a range of wines and styles at a range of price points from affordable to expensive for special occasions, (ii) know their wine list thoroughly and be able to talk knowledgeably and passionately about every wine on their list, (iii) have some suggestions for wine pairings with the items on the menu – some traditional but also some more unusual, (iv) have some unusal interesting wines on the list that they promote to help educate customers, (v) should return to a table as a wine is being drunk to ask what the party thinks of the wine chosen and get their feedback, (vi) should have an interesting and quality selection of wines that are available by the glass and/or in half bottles – too often buying a wine by the glass is the kiss of death – poor wine, badly kept, badly served and disappointing and finally – be FRIENDLY and WELCOMING. A sommelier’s job is to encourage, excite and educate customers. They know their wine list and should be able to ensure spectacular wine for every customer irrespective of price point and their level of knowledge. The best sommeliers do all of this – clearly Rajat is in this group

  • Travis Chase

    What happened to the ability to save this wine to SpringPad?

  • Anonymous

    QOTD: I think that a lot of restaurants in America take wine for granted because they don’t know enough about it to care about it. Fortunately, I’ve been noticing a steady rise in interest for wines in restaurants and this is promising. Obviously the bigger cities have a jump start because of a more diverse population. People like Raj, make me hopeful for the future of wine, of which I want a part as well.

  • Anchor Wines

    Love Raj’s enthusiasm. Great guest. As for wine service in restaurants. Most of the time I rely on myself, unless there is a great ommelier, like Raj. They I always put my trust in their hands and am never disappointed.

  • Oakmon’s BF

    Gary said if Mott had a cell phone he?d (Gary) call him (Mott) every day. I wonder if Gary realizes that Mott may have already considered that fact.

  • K2G

    Awesome show. Raj seems like a great guy – very down to earth, knows what he likes/true to his tastes, knowledgeable, good personality. I like that he also chose newer wines which he absolutely loves yet they aren’t too crazy pricey (not that $50 bones a bottle is cheap per se) but they weren’t $80 or $100+ bottles. Informative show as well, nice job GV.
    My last experience with a sommelier was a very good one. It was at Il Buco in NYC and the sommelier spent a lot of time with us at our table offering in depth info on his suggestions and the wine list was an off-the-beaten-track sort of menu so that made it that much more interesting and enjoyable.

  • Phenomenal explanation…like seriously *clap* *clap*. If you are going to Trolly McTroll it up, at least throw down some facts. Here’s an example to get your creative juices out and away from that road block: “His head makes him look like Darth Vader and because I don’t have all but one hand, he scares the shit outa me…aka he’s a wanker.” Yeah? Well it’s a start

  • Mmlevy

    Gary, Why the bubbles last??

  • QOTD. In the average restaurant wine service is dismal. The average waiter doesn’t know or care about wine. But luckily that’s changing. But I probably don’t go to enough Michelin starred restaurants either since I can’t afford them.

    My pet peeve is restaurant markup when you get that kind of bad service. If a restaurant just has a list they get from a big distributor with all current release why do they have to charge 4 times wholesale? It just artificially makes wine expensive and foreign to the average American consumer. Don’t mistreat it like that!

  • Anonymous

    Couldn’t agree more on the Beaujolais point! SUCH a great region and incredible wines.

    And grower champagne is definitely the way to go.

  • Anonymous

    Rajat is a cool dude! I really enjoyed this show. And Gary did not interrupt him too much either. ;-)QOTD: First of all, great question. Boy, I could probably write a dissertation on this one. There are so many “fine dining” restaurants that just don’t have a clue about wine service. They don’t train their servers very well on the wine. I’ve asked questions and had servers give me the dumbest answers. If I can actually get their Somm to come to the table, then I have been always treated well. But if I ask the server, I usually am disappointed. They either assume that I am a wine idiot or I have to explain the wine to them. That’s not good when you are paying $50-100 for the meal and another $100 on a bottle of wine. Every once in awhile, I ask a server for a wine suggestion and they actually come up with a good answer or say, “Let me get our Sommelier for you” – that’s fine. But all too often, I am disappointed. Of course, when I do get to speak with a Sommelier, my wife gets annoyed because we usually have a 10 minute discussion about wines and she thinks I’m monolpolizing his or her time – which I guess I am, but that’s what I am paying top dollar to do, IMO.

  • Anonymous

    @MB – Beautifully said. I couldn’t agree with you more! I do think that things are improving in the U.S., but I am still disappointed more often than not with the wine service. Of course, like you, I expect a lot in a quality restaurant. I’ve had some great experiences, too. We had a fantastic time at Aureole in Las Vegas for example. But I think ANY restaurant that is of the fine dining type of establishments should be able to have reasonably good wine service.

  • Anonymous

    @Jag – I certainly agree that to have a decent wine program at a restaurant, they need to put together a good wine list and train the wait staff – one or the other is often missing at some pretty decent restaurants which always surprises me.

  • Anonymous

    @YoungDave – I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m not sure about pretentious, but please don’t be condescending (that was to all servers or sommeliers, not you since you obviously are not part of the problem). Some of us diners actually know something about wine!

  • Anonymous


  • Rajat’s accent is the same as a German lady-friend of mine. Intriguing to listen to. Great episode!

  • yeah but even with air conditioning it is still really hot. It is difficult to explain but trust me. You can tell the difference even inside with AC between an area being intensely hot and humid and an area that is in the low seventies and not so humid. Especially if you’re in a restaurant by the beach that has a lot of windows so you can see the view.

  • I meant my wife and I, may not be world class. You were excepted…when are we coming over for dinner? πŸ˜‰

    In Chile, almost every place we have gone, the wine costs exactly what it would at retail…it’s awesome.

    Interesting…Disqus didn’t inform me about the reply.


    Please do a show on Beaujolais 2009

  • Good show.

    QOTD: Wine service in general is a negative issue in general as most places either are great with wine knowledge and outragously priced or they tend to have a very limited selection of “Big” wineries that are way overrated. I wouldn’t mind paying the tarrif for aged wine, but a lot of the wines at top resturants are only a year or so off of the regular market and I find it ridiculous to pay 3 times market value for something that I can easily find elsewhere. If you have a good list with aged wine then I find it worth while, but most don’t cut it.

  • Anonymous

    Where do you all live? And to answer your last comment, I can only say,
    “Well, it’s disqus isn’t it?” πŸ™‚

  • Mrpres1776

    Great Show – – fantastic guest.
    Show 1000 will be here before we know it! πŸ™‚

    QOTD – I get pretty disappointed with lousy wait staff who are not knowledgeable about wine. Just last night at a reasonably nice restaurant in downtown DC, we were talking wine with the server who asked if I had ever had a Cabernet Franc – – but he called it ‘Cab FRANK’… Then he proceeded to butcher the foil and cork of the bottle I brought in to the restaurant from home… After he opened it, he poured a taste in my glass – – only to expect me to taste it – – I reassured him that I don’t need to taste it – – what would I do, send it back? It was my own bottle!

  • Anonymous

    I totally agree. If any of you are in SF, after hitting up Rajat’s place, go down the street and around the corner to Orson. Elizabeth Faulkner’s staff are really nice and Carl, their sommelier is excellent. Perfect pairings, jovial, fun and informative.

  • Larry

    Great guest. He and I are exactly on the same page wine wise and I ordered a copy of his book. Would love to try his wines as well. Wine service in restaurants is way under-utilized. I live in a major restaurant town and wine service is absent only the most expensive restaurants. There are only two trained sommeliers in Santa Fe.

  • jaredlevy

    That is actually proper wine service, regardless of whether or not you brought it from home. The purpose of the taste is not only to make sure the wine is sound for you, but as the host, it is your job to make sure the wine is fit for your other guests at the table to drink as well. The waiter did nothing wrong.

  • Anonymous

    Great show, and a wonderful guest! I myself am getting more and more in to champagne and sparklers from around the world. I wish you would do more episodes on the bubblies.

    QOTD: As someone who is in the food industry and an avid foodie, I must say the quality of wine service is declining! It’s not so much the case for the high end restaurants however for an average restaurant, wine service is becoming a joke. This is also one of the reasons why I personally started to become more interested in wine because I couldn’t trust the recommendations of the men and women who were serving me wine. Part of the poor wine service comes from the fact that there are sooooooo many options of different varietals, and regions to choose from. And most servers do not take the time to learn and understand their wine menu. To have proper wine service you really need a sommelier which most restaurants do not offer.
    I myself usually spend just as much on wine as I do on the food when I go out, probably more on the wine. However, I usually do not order wine by the bottle at restaurants if they only have a run of the mill wine list. Again being in the food industry I understand the 2x retail price, or 3x cost mark up but I can’t justify spending $58 on a Kim Crawford SB which I can get around the corner for $14-$15. Now I will spend $58 on a bottle of wine I may have never heard of, never tried or something I can’t find locally. With so many options out there I also feel there is a huge disappointment in a lot of these wine lists, they only carry brand name wines its almost generic and on top of that the wait staff is not too knowledgeable about those wines too!!. Much like the disappointment Gary felt on his trips to high end restaurants in Las Vegas.

    I totally appreciate what Rajat and other sommeliers are trying to do. I just wish sommeliers were almost mandatory in the restaurant business. It’s proven that they add value in overall liquor sales however not one notable chain restaurant that I can think of use sommeliers. Granted chain restaurants are not high end but places like Bonefish Grill and Stonewood wouldn’t be out of line in having a sommelier.

  • Anonymous

    If there was someone in the wine world I’d like to have a glass with, other than GV :), would now be Raj. Such a cool, unpretentious, regular guy.

    QOTD: I expect the sommelier to ask questions of the diners, (if they have not already made up their mind on what they want). Ask if they have decided on their food choice, from appetizer to entree. Suggest a pairing for the appetizer and entree AND explain why the pairing will work.

    I expect the sommelier to have integrity and be able to read the person ordering. The sommelier should sense if the person ordering has no clue and just trying to impress the others by ordering the expensive wine. He or she should then tactfully offer other possible suggestions. Raj seems like one who has that instinct. A great sommelier has that ability to suggest without insulting the person ordering. On last thing, don’t ever,ever present me with the cork like it is some ceremony. Open the bottle, put the cork on the table, if i need to check it for signs of seepage, I will. I certainly do not want to smell it.

  • laurensNL

    Great guest and great show!

  • norcalking

    I was SOO bummed when Rubicon closed. I had the privilege of speaking to you there a few times. Excellent wine list. Once a month or so I would come in and sit at the bar, get a glass of red followed by one of the desert-desert wine/port pairings. That was my supper. You had that wonderful desert chef, what was her name? She drizzled thunder all over the top of everything!
    One evening I walked up (mouth watering) and the places was closed. I must of stood there for a long while, like a kid, with my nose pressed up against the glass, slack jawed.

    But Zuni Cafe! The ricotta gnocchi. Anyone? Must go and try the chicken. Their house Pinot is actually pretty good.

    QOTD; It needs work. Decades ago waiting was more or a respected profession, especially in Europe and G.B.. Thus their wine knowledge was usually avant guard. Now, mostly college types, except in the finer places. NYC might have higher standards for servers, I got that impression. But yea, when we’re giving up our hard earned dough for a nice night out, we don’t expect ignorance or snobbery.

    Excellent show. Mott, there’s an I-phone in your future, just kill your landline.

  • Slushpuppy

    Here’s a dining suggestion: First, ask your server if they love to drink wine, and what is their favorites. If they are stumped, then ask if there is someone present who is knowlegable about the wine list.
    Smell it first.TR

  • QOTD: I find it “adequate”, I’ve had bad experiences and good ones like most people who dine out regularly.

  • …whether you like it OR not.
    I like it:) Really, it was a show full of sharing great wine knowledge from both sides.
    Felt jealous when you’ve tasted this rare champagne. I truly love small producers, cause they bring the THUNDER.
    Thank you.
    Respecting your way,

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  • KB

    Nice to see the Chartogne Taillet getting some love on the show. Several years ago I experienced this wine at Les Nomades and it immediately became a favorite.
    QOTD: I’ve found that wine conversations in restaurants have become less intimidating over the past few years. It’s nice to find restaurants who attend to Beverage at the same level as Cuisine.

  • thnx pal πŸ™‚

  • Dcaragher

    GV – Another great guest and another great two-parter!

    QOTD: On average, I don’t think the wine service is that great, unless you are dealing with the higher-end. I find most time, there isn’t enough attention to detail!

  • Love the 2-part series with Rajat. Great guest and great dynamic. Didn’t know he was making his Burgundy-style wines in Central Coast. High-acid / high-mineral + Cali fruit. Could be very interesting!

  • An awesome two-parter. It’s neat that GV has a kindred spirit of room temperature wine out there. Rajat: I’m sure you’d enjoy having wine with a bunch of Vayniacs on this list! πŸ˜€

    QOTD: My experience with sommeliers and wine direction have mostly been favorable, though mostly in higher-tier restaurants. (Rajat: for the record my experience at Michael Mina in SF was great.) The worst experiences I’ve had is when wine staff pushes wine that either 1) is too plentiful in stock, 2) is made by a friend, 3) just to gain higher margin on my bill. The best experiences have been when the staff listens to my thoughts on pairing or tasting preferences, and then engages in proper dialogue…they don’t just look down on my palette just because they’re a “wine professional”. Sincerity is great.

  • Missatiejacket

    Not sure if this is Mr. Parr, but it makes me wonder:
    It sounds pretty questionable, whoever it is.

  • Missatiejacket

    By the way, I enjoyed the episodes. Your qotd is way too involved for me to attempt to answer here.

  • Jrod6400

    In answer to the question of the day…I find that in most of the restaurants I’ve been to the wines are not well espoused by the service personnel. You are pretty much on your own, which is fine. However once in a while it would be nice, in absence of a familiar wine or varietal on the list, to have the steward be alittle more promotional about the selection. I believe that there isn’t much of a standardized knowledge base amongst the staff to actually offer substantive reccomendations or information. I’m not looking for a wine class when ordering, but at least match the level of expertise in describing the dinner specials.

  • Anonymous

    Good episodes, good guest. You continue to encourage Champagne and I will try some this season for certain.

    QOTD – My experience with higher end restraunts is limited and my view is insufficient to add meaning.

  • Anonymous

    One of my favorite guests/episodes ever. Felt like I learned a lot in a very casual setting, you guys work great together. Loved watching Gary’s face when Rajat started on Beaujolais.

    QOTD: I’m with “pawncop”, experience with sommelier’s is just too limited to offer much here. Although I will share a disappointing story with you….
    …I was recently in NY and dined at a particular restaurant, at a particular hotel (Ahem, Bowery Hotel) and I ordered a bottle of Barbaresco that the Sommelier had steered me toward (at the same time as steering me away from another bottle I was into).
    Long story short – He told me he’d keep it for himself if I didn’t like it. I tasted it, it was completely off balance with the acidity through the roof. He saw my reaction and after he was done pouring for the table he was gone and never heard from or seen again. Decanting only helped mildly.


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