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SevenFifty Daily’s Top Ten Articles of 2017

A look back on the stories and discussions that got people in the industry talking this year

SevenFifty Daily’s Top Articles of 2017.

SevenFifty Daily has covered a lot of ground since our July launch, from exploring the mysteries of black Chardonnay to navigating the booze business while sober. Here, we’ve rounded up our most-read articles of the year, showcasing the people, ideas, and concerns that got the industry buzzing.

1. Meet Black Chardonnay

Cycle of Black Chard, from grapes to fermentation and final product
Photo courtesy of 00 Wines.

A nearly forgotten technique for exceptional wines has some producers going back to black

The search for the soul of Chardonnay has been labyrinthine. There have been so many wrong turns. So many dead ends. So many retreats and reorientations. (Remember the 180-degree swing from heavily toasted oak to “inox” steel tanks?) Those on the cutting edge of Chardonnay production today are looking fearlessly forward while holding tight to the traditions of the past.

And those traditions include a bit of black magic: juice that comes pouring from the press as dark as pitch but is a shimmering green-tinted gold by the time it’s bottled. Some call this mysterious liquid Black Chardonnay. [Read more]

2. Thriving While Sober in the Booze Industry

sommeliers pouring shots for customers and himself
Illustration by María Hergueta.

Drinks professionals weigh in on their recovery from alcoholism and how they’re charting a new course

Recently, a handful of high-profile bartenders, chefs, general managers, and others in the industry have been speaking out about their struggles with alcohol abuse—and their newfound sobriety. Though not all recovering alcoholics have stayed in the industry, many have—and they say their careers are more successful than ever. The stigma of being a drinks professional with alcoholism is seemingly starting to disappear. [Read more]

3. Three New Masters of Wine on How They Did It

Billo Naravane MW, Nova Cadamatre MW, and Ashley Hausman Vaughters MW
(From left to right) Billo Naravane MW, Nova Cadamatre MW, and Ashley Hausman Vaughters MW.

Or how to succeed in wine by really, really trying

On Labor Day, the Institute of Masters of Wine announced 14 new Masters of Wine from five countries, bringing the total number of MW’s to 369 in 29 countries. SevenFifty Daily caught up with three of the new inductees—Nova Cadamatre, Ashley Hausman Vaughters, and Billo Naravane—to talk about how they studied, what they wish they had known, and how they celebrated. [Read more]

4. How Six New Master Sommeliers Made the Cut

October 2017 new master sommeliers
Photo courtesy of the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Fresh from the exam, several MS’s share their stories and advice

Last week the Court of Master Sommeliers welcomed eight new members to its Master Sommelier ranks, bringing the total to 157 in the Americas and 247 worldwide. SevenFifty Daily caught up with six of the new MS’s to hear their stories and get their best advice for the next crop of candidates. [Read more]

5. The Bobby Stuckey Effect

Bobby Stuckey
Photo courtesy of Frasca Food and Wine.

In the past 13 years, Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder, Colorado, has become an epicenter of great wine service. Here, a look at how one person has helped shape America’s professional wine culture

Ask anyone who’s worked with Bobby Stuckey about what it is that makes him such an icon, and the conversation will unquestionably begin with a sentence or story that has to do with the way in which Stuckey represents the pinnacle of hospitality. Hospitality and Stuckey are inextricably linked. Yes, he’s a Master Sommelier (and has been since 2004). Yes, he owns a number of successful restaurants. Yes, he’s a marathon runner. Yes, he’s tireless and uncontested when it comes to positivity. He’s even exceptionally well dressed, but he will always credit his wife, Danette, for that. Stuckey espouses a distinct form of service, one that many would argue has fallen by the wayside. In fact, he’ll argue that himself. [Read more]

6. Six Degrees of Rajat Parr

photo of Rajat Parr
Photo courtesy of Sandhi Wines.

How the wine director turned winemaker became one of the industry’s most influential figures, as told by the people whose careers he helped launch

After helming four Wine Spectator Grand Award wine lists, coauthoring the acclaimed book Secrets of the Sommeliers (Ten Speed), and partnering in three of the country’s most exciting wineries, Parr has attained a level of influence and respect enjoyed by few wine professionals. He has won three James Beard Awards, including recognition as an author and as an outstanding service professional in the drinks space, among other accolades. Yet you could just as easily measure Parr’s success by the number of sommeliers whose careers he helped launch and who have in turn become some of the industry’s most prominent voices. [Read more]

7. What We Talk About When We Talk About Sulfites

contains sulfites
Illustration by Jeff Quinn.

How somms and salespeople deal with the dreaded “S” word—and try to dispel the myths about sulfites in wine

If ever there were a word guaranteed to make the beverage industry shudder, it would most likely be “sulfites.” Somehow, like clowns in the forest or alligators in the New York City sewers, sulfites in wine became the stuff of urban legend, the catalyst for every headache, migraine, and Andy Capp–style hangover. And yet there’s no scientific evidence to support such claims. [Read more]

8. The New Business of Big Ice

ice cubes in different shapes and sizes
Photo courtesy of Mixology Ice.

A new age for ice providers is taking cubes to the next level at bars and retail outlets

Extra-large crystal-clear two-inch-square ice cubes don’t just pop out of a machine: At least for now, the big cubes and Collins spears preferred by top bars across the U.S. are cut down from sculpture-sized blocks using a variety of power and hand tools. While some bars take control of the entire process, from block making to cube cutting, in-house, a new wave of outside big-ice providers are reinventing the game. [Read more]

9. Do We Still Need Sommeliers in Restaurants?

Sommeliers standing in line
Illustration by Jeannie Phan.

Restaurant operators and wine directors weigh in with wine service models they’ve found successful, and discuss the evolving roles of wine professionals on the floor

The actual work of being a sommelier in the traditional sense of the word—working in a restaurant, choosing and selling wine—is more complicated today. It can be rewarding to be served at the table by a knowledgeable, talented wine professional. And wine service in the United States is more finessed than ever. But the old model of having a full-time person dedicated to wine doesn’t necessarily suit all restaurants. The economics are more mixed: It works great for some places, not as well for others. And the role itself has become more complex; for several years now, the profession has debated the rise of the “somm-manager” and other hybrid roles. Americans are dining ever more casually, in ways that don’t require formal service. We’re drinking more cocktails, beer, and sake with our meals. So to what extent do restaurants need sommeliers, and what should their jobs entail? [Read more]

10. How Millennials Are Changing the Wine-Selling Game

Millenials outside Bottlerocket storefront
Photo courtesy of Bottlerocket.

Focusing on authenticity and adventure to make the sale

With wine sales in the United States approaching $62 billion annually, and millennials consuming an estimated 42 percent of the product, there is clearly a lot of money to be made and lost on what has too often been dismissively portrayed as the shifting whims of a large group of youngsters. Throughout the supply chain, wine professionals are starting to pay attention. [Read more]

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