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How This Sommelier Pairs Rare Wines from Saga’s Cellar

A graphic designer-turned-sommelier who is taking #winetok by storm, Eun Hee Kwon readily heads to this New York City restaurant’s cellar—63 floors down—to find back-vintage Burgundy and rebellious Txakoli for her guests

A headshot of Eun Hee Kwon against a white background. She sits with her arm resting on a surface with a glass of white wine next to her.
Eun Hee Kwon, pictured above, didn’t expect to change careers from graphic design to working the floor as a sommelier. Photo courtesy of Eun Hee Kwon.

When Eun Hee Kwon graduated from the intensive sommelier course at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, she didn’t anticipate that wine would quickly become her career. “I had always been enamored with food and beverages in the context of dining in general,” says Kwon, “and was curious to learn more about wines.” After passing her certified sommelier exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers, she received a job offer. Kwon “decided to take the leap,” leaving behind seven years of graphic design to become a full-time sommelier at the age of 30.

Kwon later became sommelier at Le Coucou, a position she held until recently. She has also accumulated over 74,000 followers on TikTok, where she shares her wine knowledge and documents her life as a NYC sommelier. Her graphic design talents come in handy in her TikTok content as well; Kwon creates illustrative, educational #winetok videos covering wine history, different categories of wine, individual producers to know, and more.

Though Kwon’s social media content helps to make wine accessible to a wider audience, her day job involves working with some of the world’s hardest-to-find wines. Earlier this year, she  became a sommelier at Saga, a fine dining restaurant on the 63rd floor of 70 Pine St. 

“Saga is truly a New York restaurant,” Kwon says. “Through a tasting menu, Saga presents a modern New York cuisine, showcasing various influences from different cuisines with a nontraditional fine dining style of service.” Guests must choose from two experiential tasting menus: the Seasonal Tasting Menu, priced at $298 per person, which includes both plated and shared courses, or the Short Story, an abridged Saga dinner offered from Monday to Wednesday for $198 per person.

As a two Michelin-starred restaurant, Saga has become a popular attraction for guests from all over the world, many of whom have saved up for the experience and might be celebrating a special occasion. “We serve guests with an immense range of palates,” says Kwon. “I love the challenge of figuring out what the guests want, and seeing them genuinely enjoy the experience we work so hard for everyday.”

Kwon’s experience working with an extensive French wine list at Le Coucou helped her get up to speed at Saga because she knows how to quickly taste and understand classic wines, “as well as in working with a vast array of older fine wines while working under pressure in a fast-paced environment—all of which I continue doing, albeit with even higher stakes,” she says. 

Some of the challenges, though, are unique to Saga. “Honestly, the elevator is the first [challenge] that comes to mind!” Kwon says. Making the trip 63 floors down to the building’s wine cellar and back can take 10 minutes, which “really throws off the rhythm and pace of not only the table, but the entire section” at times—but it can also mean bringing something unforgettable to the table.

But curating unforgettable wine is Kwon’s specialty. SevenFifty Daily sat down with Kwon to discuss five of the most recent—and most memorable—bottles she has sold. (Listed are bottle prices at Saga.)

Domaine Fourrier Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru ‘Les Gruenchers’ Vieilles Vignes 2007
Domaine Fourrier Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru ‘Les Gruenchers’ Vieilles Vignes 2007. Photo courtesy of Thatcher’s Wine.

Domaine Fourrier Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru ‘Les Gruenchers’ Vieilles Vignes 2007, Burgundy, France; $810

Saga has an extensive list of Burgundies, but when a table of Burgundy fans asked for a recommendation for their second bottle of the night, Kwon looked to Domaine Fourrier. “I can always count on Fourrier to impress with their captivating aromatic complexity,” says Kwon. “Even from the first whiff, they loved it.” The silky, rich Pinot Noir paired well with their duck entrée.

Pascal Agrapart ‘Minéral’ Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut 2017, Champagne, France; $315

Agrapart is the producer Kwon always jumps to when it comes to grower Champagnes, and it was perfect for a table of two celebrating an anniversary. “It’s one of those precise, mineral-driven, doesn’t-get-old Champagnes that never fails to woo anyone who drinks it,” she says. The fourth-generation producer makes some compelling blends but specializes in blanc de blancs cuvées such as the Minéral, aptly named for its racy, mineral-driven character. 

Alfredo Egia ‘Rebel Rebel’ 2020, Bizkaiko Txakolina.
Alfredo Egia ‘Rebel Rebel’ 2020. Photo by Ted Vance.

Alfredo Egia ‘Rebel Rebel’ 2020, Bizkaiko Txakolina, Spain; $140

While Txakoli is known to be light and bright, Rebel Rebel is “bigger and more intense—but in the best way possible,” says Kwon, who recommended this wine for guests who wanted to try something different. Alfredo Egia practices biodynamic farming with low intervention, which is atypical in the Txakolina region, and uses techniques like lees aging and intentional oxidation to create unique wines. “I was a little nervous pouring it,” Kwon recalls about this particular sale, “but I love Alfredo Egia’s wine and trusted that the adventurous palate would come around to it.”

Mugneret-Gibourg Echezeaux Grand Cru 1990, Burgundy, France; $2,250

One of Kwon’s favorite Burgundy producers was the answer to a guest’s request for “a wine with some age, not too bold, and complex yet elegant.” This heralded Côte de Nuits estate is run by three generations of women and has become known for its generous yet classic Vosne-Romanée wines. During a relatively slow service, this rare wine left Kwon’s guests visibly impressed—and their genuine enthusiasm for the Mugneret-Gibourg made her night. “The adrenaline rush from that last table!” she recalls. “It’s nights like these that remind us you truly never know what the night will hold.”

Emmerich Knoll 'Pfaffenberg Selection' Riesling 2000
Emmerich Knoll ‘Pfaffenberg Selection’ Riesling 2000. Photo by Ted Vance.

Emmerich Knoll ‘Pfaffenberg Selection’ Riesling 2000, Wachau, Austria; $295

This Austrian wine was a special pick selected for a table that wanted a progression of bottles rather than a typical pairing. Served to a larger group with a foie gras that featured rhubarb, raspberries, and pistachios, Kwon chose this Riesling for its “honeyed and denser, ripe fruit notes” to complement the meal. Despite coming from one of Austria’s most famous wineries, the Emmerich Knoll overdelivers for its price—something Kwon was excited to share. “The price-to-value ratio for this is outstanding, with the complexity from age as well as its versatility for pairing,” she says.


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Vivian Beltran is the digital production manager for SevenFifty Daily. Based in New Orleans, Vivian’s love for the beverage industry is born from her personal experience working as a server and bartender for more than 10 years. She also freelances as a photographer and enjoys writing horror movie essays in her spare time. Follow her on Instagram @vivi_bel_.

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