If you are like me, you are adventurous in your beverage selections. However, from time to time you find yourself somewhat intimidated by the larger wine lists. When flipping through page after page of an enormous menu filled with high end wines all just waiting to be tried, it can to be a bit hard to find “the one” you are looking for. You might find yourself wishing that something would just jump out and speak to you. Well if that’s the case, next time you are in The Ocean Room stop after the first page of our 1,000+ wine list at the Sommelier Selection.
The Sommelier Selection menu is a portion of the menu where Sommelier Garth Herr walks you through his favorites and of course, what’s hot that month! I got the opportunity to sit down with Garth and we discussed his selections, this is what I learned.
Nicole: Garth, in your own words, what is the Sommelier Selection menu?
Garth: Just a way for us to have fun and emphasize some of the wines/spirits that we love that may get lost in the larger list. I have had wineries beg to be listed on the page but, it’s not for sale. It comes from the heart. That way, it stays fun!
Nicole: Out of 1,000+ wines on your menu, what makes you pick these wines that go on this list?
Garth: The “Sparkling” section is there because I have always been amazed at how little sparkling wine we sell compared to what you would expect. Bubbles are one of my favorite things. Not just for celebrations but for food pairings as well.
The “What we are drinking” section emphasizes some of the wines that we have really enjoyed lately. They are amongst our favorites and are selected with no rules. Purely and simply, wines that I like.
“Freak Show wines” is a section specifically designed to highlight unique wines. Maybe they are produced in a different manner or made from rule bending varietals, or these are the wines that have something different and fun to share.
The other sections vary based on moods or something that struck me as special. Next up, I will be featuring a flight of high end Tequila’s from master distiller German González because they are some of my favorites and new to the Charleston market. I occasionally highlight a specific winemaker or region, etc.
It is probably the easiest page to develop because it legitimately consists of things I am excited about. I rarely have to put much thought into it because these are the products that are running through my mind all the time.
Nicole: Are the selections based on seasonality?
Garth: Some are based on season, some on menu items but mostly, its what comes from my head. Writing them down and talking about them for a month gives me an outlet to share my thoughts and then move on to new ones.
Nicole: The lingo in this section of the menu is so casual, as if I were talking to a friend. We can tell there is a big piece of your flare in the menu when reading it. Why did you choose to go in this direction when making the menu?
Garth: Because the wine list is huge! It can be intimidating or overwhelming to some. Wine is supposed to be fun and relaxing, not something to stress about. I want people to feel comfortable and relaxed when they talk to me, whether it be on paper or in person.
Nicole: How long have you been offering the Sommelier’s Selection menu in The Ocean Room?
Garth: I guess about two years now. It came about when I was trying to figure out how to put emphasis on some of my favorite wines that just didn’t stand out on the overall list.
Nicole: Out of all the wines you have had on your Sommelier’s Selection menu since the start, what is your favorite and why?
Garth: That is a tough question. The wines I list each month ARE my favorite wines at that time! I just continue to get excited about new things. That is why selling wine is so much fun. It is constantly changing and I am never bored. I actually fell in love with an old Australian Shiraz this month, it had been sitting in the cellar for almost 10 years and when I finally re-tasted it, I immediately added it to the Sommelier Selection page. Trouble was, I sold it all before I had a chance to click print.. Just typing it out helps me to think about why I like the wine.
That being said, my personal favorite producers are Chateau Musar, Chateau Rayas, Domaine Fourrier and Dunn Vineyards. It doesn’t mean they are always my favorite individual wine however, over many vintages, they consistently finish near the top.
My current favorite white wine was only a production of 180 bottles. Better hurry if you want to try some! It’s on the page this month and will disappear fast.