Time to put the sommeliers in the spotlight: Doug Frost MW
Doug Frost is a Kansas City author who is one of the few people in the world to have achieved to obtain both the remarkable distinctions of Master Sommelier and Master of Wine. So I guess he knows a thing or two about wine :-)
Not only can you read read many articles written by Doug in several national (USA) magazines, he has also written several books on wine and even guides on how to buy wines. Although having travelled the world, visiting many vineyards and liking wines from around the globe , he does have a soft spot for wines originating from Northern America (A wine region that is expanding enormously . Making that he proudly promotes them as much as he can as a true Ambassador. He is also one of a founding partner of Beverage Alcohol Resource, that is considered by most industry professionals to be THE education and examining body for the spirits and cocktail industry. He continues to teach and examine for BAR and within the Master Sommelier and Master of Wine programs of which is currently president for the US.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, he still finds time to be the director of the Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition, the Mid-American Wine Competition, the Washington Cup Spirits Competition, the host of the Emmy Award nominated PBS-TV show …. Talking about a busy bee.
Please enjoy getting to know Doug Forst better. In case you still can't get enough, you can read his full biography on this website
What is your favorite wine region to work with?
I tend to focus most upon regions that are less known in the U.S. market: Spain, Portugal, South Africa and even within the U.S., Washington, Oregon and then regional wines from far lesser known states (Michigan, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Virginia and New York
What does it take to be a good sommelier according to you?
Sommelier skills are critical, of course, but I judge all sommeliers on their ability to provide hospitality, not merely to accomplish the tasks we associate with hospitality but to genuinely connect with the customers, to put them at ease and to make them feel as though someone cares about their comfort and happiness.
Is the job of a sommelier underestimated/valued?
No, I think in the USA that the sommelier industry is highly regarded, maybe sometimes too much so. But in other countries, especially in Latin America, sommeliers are still fighting for the respect they deserve. Many of those are incredibly dedicated, skilled professionals.
When and how did you get the passion for wine?
I had my first glass of wine at 15 years old and I remember it still; it was a California Pinot Noir and it launched a lifelong passion for that grape. And then I discovered Riesling and that is a grape obsession that my daughters share as well. Truth be told, there's hardly a grape that doesn't fascinate me, at least in some iterations. I started working in a serious restaurant at the age of 22 and I was taken to some wine tastings and I really fell in love with the remarkable diversity of wine.
Who is your big example in the wine/sommelier world?
I will always believe that Gerard Basset has embodied the principles, skills and demeanor of a great sommelier as well as anyone in the world.
What is your approach for pairing wines(or other beverages) with dishes?
First, like the physician, do no harm. Find a wine that improves the chef's cuisine; that is the sommelier's chief purpose. And find a wine too that fascinates the customer. If you can accomplish those, you'll be fine.
Which wine region would you recommend everybody to visit and why?
South Africa. It is a life-changing place for me.
For which wine would you make a big sacrifice to be able to taste?
I haven't had 1962 La Tache in years. I wish I could have that again.
What is your most wonderful memory of hotel management school or viticulture studies?
There have been many great teachers over the years, but when I think back, one of those visits was with Jim Clendenen of Au Bon Climat. He taught me so much, and helped me connect wine to grapevines.
A culinary or wine experience everybody should have had besides have a meal at your restaurant, shop, winery, etc..?
On New Year's Eve, we invite friends and family over to our house for Champagne and tamales from a small family owned bodega in the Latin area of my city. I make salsas to keep things hot and intense. It's a crazy combination that promotes the idea that food and wine matching is first supposed to be fun.