(first published in “Eater”)
The era of wine arrogance is over. It was dismantled by a chorus of young voices from the ether. Unlike the recent past when an ex-attorney could anoint himself the palate of America, a new generation of wine professionals seized control by embracing the Old World discipline of the sommelier. They even have a cool, shortened moniker. They call themselves Somms. The good ones have finely tuned BS meters and take their craft seriously. But instead of a singular voice, they talk amongst each other in online public forums, wine seminars, culinary events and gatherings. They challenge preconceived notions, kill sacred cows, encourage, question, prod… but the difference between the new communal voice of wine and the wine critic of past is that these professionals rose through the ranks of cuisine and service. Their loyalty is to their patron’s palate and, hopefully, not their own ego.