Sandy Block MW — who currently serves as the VP of Beverage Operations for Legal Seafoods — became in 1992 the first Master of Wine on the East Coast of the United States, and one of the first Americans to hold the certification. As he explains in the podcast, earning the title is a grueling process that is somewhat — but not entirely — similar to what it takes to earn status as a Master Sommelier (MS). While Sandy is not familiar with the Master Sommelier exam, in the podcast we discuss what he experienced going through the Master of Wine program versus what we all have seen about preparing for the MS in the movie Somm. Granted, what was portrayed in the movie may not be entirely congruent with how a sommelier prepares for the exam in reality, but we used the movie as a baseline of comparison to get an idea of what goes into gaining the MW cert.
More importantly, Sandy talks about how he has used his experience in the MW program throughout his career in the wine business over the past 25+ years. Some of what he learned in that journey was applied in his process of building wine lists for the Legal Seafoods restaurant chain — a fairly democractic process that he explains fully in this episode.
Additionally, Sandy tells us about wine trends he’s seeing at Legal Sea Foods — in terms of service and of wines in general. You may be surprised to hear his take on millennials; it counters much of what’s been broadcasted in the press. He also shares his opinion on what truly constitutes wine quality, and one of the biggest missed opportunities in restaurant merchandising: the after-dinner experience.
You can listen to the episode via the player above this post. Be sure to subscribe to the show for free through your smartphone podcast app so that you will get future episodes immediately after they’re published — and click here if you’re not sure how to subscribe.