Introducing Riedel Sommelier of the Month- Jon McDaniel, Corporate Beverage Director, The Gage/ Acanto/ The Dawson/ Beacon Tavern/ Coda Di Volpe.
Recognized as one of the top wine professionals in America, Jon McDaniel has worked in many facets of the business – from creating high profile wine programs at several nationally acclaimed restaurants, to developing revenue-generating brand recognition for numerous wineries.
Food and Wine – Favorite combos do you prefer? What do you find to be the hardest/easiest to match up?
Here are my favorite combinations:
- Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir and Steak Sandwiches
- Franciacorta and White Pizza
- Spanish Mencia and Thai Curry
- 1982 (my birth vintage) Barolo out of a Riedel Paloma Decanter and anything in my life!
Pairing with and food is pretty easy if you think of how you can add to a dish. Whenever I’m pairing wine, I think of what the flavors of the wine are and imagine throwing those flavors on the dish itself – does it work? Would this halibut benefit from having a bit of grassy/grapefruit on it like this Sancerre? If yes, then pair it.
The hardest dishes to pair are ones that already have 75 ingredients in them. If the dish has too much going on already, no one can save it. Luckily I have a great chef team at my restaurants that they love to highlight the simplicity of the main ingredient.
Your restaurant - What is your must eat dish on the menu and which wine do you recommend with it?
At our newly opened Beacon Tavern, our Chef Bob Broskey has a Grilled Bacon Sandwich that he braises in Root Beer with pickled peppers – it is absolutely mouth-watering. I pair this behemoth of a sandwich with a ½ bottle of Vietti Barolo ‘Castiglione’. The wine brings out another layer of juiciness in the sandwich and this vintage actually has some hints of sarsaparilla, which is perfect with this sandwich.
Any tips that you have for decanter newbies?
If you are unsure of whether or not to use a decanter on a wine, taste it first. If you think that it is a bit flat, too tannic and needs to wake up – then go ahead and decant. Too many people get wrapped up in how long to decant it for, whether it be 10 minutes or 2 hours, you will be surprised how much just the action of decanting will help your wine out. Decanting is also a personal preference. If you like your wines to be a bit more dry, tight and broad shouldered then pour from the bottle. If you want to highlight the aromatics, the fruit, elegance of a wine – try decanting it.
Can you recommend one red and one white that you find to be crowd pleasers. Suggestions?
My favorite white of the moment that everyone needs to try is Masseria LiVeli Verdeca from Puglia, Italy. It combines this amazing minerality of the Adriatic Sea, tropical and citrus notes and flavors of ginger/pickled ginger that go great with crudo and watching people go by on the patio at Acanto.
For a red that both my guests and my staff at The Gage are crazy about is “Rubeo” by Penner-Ash in the Willamette Valley. It is a unique blend of Pinot Noir and Syrah that brings these really lush flavors of raspberry and blackberry together with a touch of jam and Santa Claus spices. I can’t keep it in stock because it goes great with BBQ, burgers and grilled fish.
In your opinion, how do Riedel glasses enhance the wine drinking experience?
A Riedel glass truly offers the guest the complete drinking experience. From picking up the glass, you notice the balance, the lightness of the glass without feeling fragile. When you take advantage of using the correct Riedel stem, your nose fits in the right place for enhanced aromatics and the taste – somehow hits the very perfect part of the palate. A Riedel glass offers my guests the ability to taste a wine the way that the winemaker truly intended it to be.
Are there any big trends that you have been noticing in the wine industry?
As more young professionals join the ranks of sommeliers, I find many of them ignore the classics because it’s not “cool” or “the next big thing”. So many lists that I see ignore Napa Cabernet, classic Italian Pinot Grigio and some of the other old-school wines. These are wines that are experiencing a resurgence of their own and they are shunned because they aren’t “somm” enough.