Mark Eberwein lands Top Sommeliers award |

Mark Eberwein lands Top Sommeliers award

Megan Yeiter, Of The Record staff

Wine has a mystique that can be intimidating to many people. But not Mark Eberwein, who was recently recognized as one of the country’s top sommeliers of 2011 by Food and Wine Magazine. He is one of only seven sommeliers in the U.S. to receive this year’s award.

Eberwein has over 20 years of experience in the food and beverage industry and currently serves as the Director of Food and Beverage for the St. Regis Deer Valley.

To qualify for the award the sommelier must recreate a wine list for a restaurant that opened within the previous year. And the list must be fantastic, of course. The list is judged on variety and point of view. Food and Wine Magazine considers thousands of sommeliers nationwide each year.

In addition to receiving this award, Eberwein is an insightful businessman. In an interview at the Chef’s table, a private room in the J&G Grill with floor to ceiling windows overlooking Deer Valley’s ski slopes, Eberwein reflected on his career.

It began at age 26 as Sommelier of the Rancho Bernardo Inn, where he assumed the responsibility of selecting over 2,000 wines featured on the restaurant’s menu, "wine is about enjoying the experience," Eberwein said.

One of his greatest memories is of sharing a $15 bottle of wine with friends. Eberwein said price doesn’t necessarily matter- but, of course, ultra expensive bottles do have their place.

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Is it true that wine is better with age? Eberwein explained that wines with fruity flavors are meant to be consumed within a year, while wines containing higher alcohol and acidic levels age more gracefully.

After joining the St. Regis team as Director of Food and Beverage last year, Eberwein rewrote the wine list for J&G Grill, "originally (the wine list was) built for those who had made it and not the people walking through the doors," Eberwein said.

He believes creating an enjoyable and extensive wine list designed with the guests in mind is important. Eberwein is passionate about food and wine, which is the best part of his job, "I’m not an accountant," Eberwein jokes, "I love talking about wine and working with Chef (Matthew Harris) on pairings."

Sidebar: Tasty wine pairings for spring:

One of Eberwein’s favorites- Red zinfandel and BBQ.

Try a bottle of 2007 Ravenswood ‘Zen of Zin’ from Sonoma County California — $48.

Easy effort — Dry rose and pizza.

One of Eberwien’s favorite labels — 2008 Tavel, Chateau de Trinquevedel from Rhone Valley — $56.

In the mood for seafood? Try Arneis, a white Italian wine, also known as "the little rascal" because of its stubborn temperament.

2007 Ceretto ‘Blange’, Piedmont — $59.