What do you like to drink after a shift? “I usually go for a beer at the dive bar around the corner because they have a great craft selection and a lot of sours. If I’m going somewhere with cocktails, I tend to order an añejo rum Daiquiri or a Sazerac.”
What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? “Queen–‘Don’t Stop Me Now.’”
Name the first good wine you ever drank and where you had it. “Domaine du Cros, Fer Servadou, Marcillac. It was the first wine that I’d tasted that had funk to it and I remember it so vividly. We poured it by the glass at a restaurant I worked at right after college. It was also the first wine that I bought a full case of myself and didn’t share.”
What book on wine, cocktails, spirits or food is your go-to resource? “Jancis Robinson’s Oxford Companion to Wine for general reference for wine. I have the e-book version and always have it up on my Kindle app on my phone for quick reference questions. I do love Dave Arnold’s Liquid Intelligence; it’s a great way to dig into the science behind beverages, down to the molecular level, and understand the chemistry and apply it to everyday use.”
Name the wine region that took you the longest to truly understand. “Italy for sure. I feel like they’re more likely to break their own rules and you really have to keep up on producers and what’s going on in the regions to be able to talk about it.”
What’s your favorite wine and food pairing? “Champagne and pizza. Preferably Pizza Taglio in Pittsburgh (sorry NYC).”
What’s the most common wine myth you have to debunk? “Separating the idea of fruit and sweetness, or the misconceptions guests have about Chardonnay.”
What’s your favorite bottle of wine under $20? “Jean-Marc Brocard Saint-Bris Sauvignon Blanc (probably around $15).”
What’s your favorite bottle of wine over $500? “1995 Salon Le Mesnil. It is one of my absolute favorite bottles I have ever gotten to enjoy.”
What tool do you use to open a bottle? “A Pulltap’s double-hinged screwpull. I usually carry an Ah-So as well.”
Vanessa Cominsky is the sommelier at DBGB Kitchen & Bar in Washington, D.C.
Interview has been condensed and edited.