A native of New York, Christina began her career in hospitality working summers at The Four Seasons Hotel in New York during college. Christina found herself drawn to the wine profession and relocated to the Bay Area to study at the International Culinary Center. After earning the Certified Sommelier Diploma from the Court of Master Sommeliers, she landed at Bird Dog in Palo Alto, where she was part of the opening service team. Christina's journey continues while guiding guests towards their next bottle of wine on the dining room floor at Protégé under the direction of Master Sommelier, Dennis Kelly.
About the Restaurant:
Protégé is an upscale casual restaurant featuring New American cuisine and a comprehensive wine & spirits program. The vision of Master Sommelier, Dennis Kelly and Chef Anthony Secviar, Protégé brings the attention to detail found in the finest restaurants to a casual setting in Palo Alto, California.
What are your favorite food and wine combos? What do you find to be the hardest/easiest to match up?
Chablis with shellfish is a great combination, the flinty minerality and citrus notes goes beautifully with crab or scallops.
Spicy foods can be the most challenging to pair, as well as soups.
Tell us about your restaurant. What is your must-eat dish on the menu and which wine do you recommend with it?
Protégé serves new American cuisine with influence from Spain and France. The food at Protégé is simply composed but with layers of flavor. Our chef showcases seasonal ingredients and currently we are highlighting white truffles from Alba in a lasagna. With the richness and decadence of this dish, I would recommend a Barolo with age. It has that earthy, mushroomy element, fragrant and savory, that can stand up to the intensity of truffles – as well as the tannins and acidity to cut through the richness.
Any tips for decanter newbies?
Have a steady hand and focus, and try different ways of holding the decanter to get a comfortable fit.
Can you recommend one red and one white that you find to be crowd pleasers?
Grenache is a wine that guests love with medium body, cherry fruit, and smoky herbal notes.
Albariño has a sunny character, nice acidity and is light and crisp.
In your opinion, how do Riedel glasses enhance the wine drinking experience? Which is your favorite glass/product?
Riedel glasses are very light in the hand, giving an elegance to drinking wine.
I appreciate the hand crafted look of the Veritas line, it is delicate but study enough for everyday use. The aromas of the wine translate really well in the glass.
Any big trends that you have been noticing in the wine industry?
There is a shift toward more balanced, high acidity in red wines, moving away from big concentrated styles. This is the case increasingly in Napa, along with Beaujolais in Burgundy and Etna DOC in Sicily as regions being recognized for their lighter style.