Corkbuzz "Somms we Love"
April 2011

Michael is the new face of the Sommelier. The smiley face. He's one of the best in the business and someone we think you need to know.

On any given night, you can find Michael slinging jeroboams or double magnums of his favorite wines while he smiles and glides around Bar Boulud or Boulud Sud's dining rooms like he's on rollerskates. He also energetically tweets about the loot he's serving by the glass, which is usually some rare, fabulous wine he marks down to make affordable.

Michael is always approachable and humble despite running one of the best wine programs in New York City. Oh, and in addition to the wine list, he also makes the track list for Bar Boulud, so as you savor your smooth terrine grandmère and back-vintage Burgundy and notice MJ's P.Y.T. riffing through the speakers, feel free to nod along to the beat with him and the rest of the servers.

How'd you get started in the biz? What was your first job?
My first job was at the Burgundy Wine Company at their original location on West 11th Street. I was 23 years old and knew nothing about Burgundy. I was drawn to that shop for the way the employees passionately spoke about wine. It was an amazing place to have one's first wine job.

Favorite vacation spot?
I'm not going to say something exotic like the Greek Islands or Gstaad. I'm going to bring it all back home to my family's beach house in North Wildwood, NJ. Nothing like being with your extended family and eating and drinking in the house you've known all your life.

Wine recommendation under $20 a bottle?
Any vintage of St. Joseph VV from Philippe Faury. It has the complexity and breed of Côte-Rôtie but is priced like it's a simple quaffer. Buy it.

Guilty pleasure at 2am after a long, hectic shift?
Chicken fingers and BBQ sauce with a cold beer in frosty mug. Preferably in a place that has Bob Seger on its jukebox.

Advice for guests looking at your wine list?
Don't be afraid. I want to get you the best wine for what you'd like to spend. Allow the conversation to happen so we can interact. I'm not trying to pick your pocket.

Best part of your job?
Getting to know wines intimately. Tasting 100 bottles of the same wine in the span of one year. Knowing its ins and outs like it's the back of your hand. And then seeing it evolve, i.e. drop a bit of its fruit, firm up a little and turn its youthful exuberance into adolescent confidence.

Album you'd most like to hear while working on the floor?
Purple Rain