The sommelier title hasn't always been a glamorous one. In fact, according to Rajat Parr and Jordan Mackay's new book, Secrets of the Sommeliers, it was once a title relegated to restaurant workers who proved themselves unworthy of the kitchen, a lowly crew banished to the wine cellar for life.
Those days are long gone. The book goes on to outline the history of the rise of the sommelier in the United States, now a professional path fraught with academic rigor and subject discipline.
Rajat Parr had a hand in getting the field to where it is now, and he co-authored this book to explain what goes on behind the scenes.
This isn't a scandalous tell-all, though. Parr, who came to the Culinary Institute of America via Indian hospitality school and eventually went on to direct the wine program for the Michael Mina empire, is interested in educating interested consumers on what it takes to taste, shop and talk like a sommelier.
So the book is a rundown of helpful tips for amassing a sizable body of wine knowledge -- and a sizable cellar. There's something for everyone, from the novice to the industry pro; unlike many other wine textbooks, this how-to guide is easy to search and digest. Taste characteristics of Burgundy? Listed. Food-pairing primer? It's there. Tips for buying at an auction? Well, as I said, there's something for everyone.
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My favorite part of the book, though, might be the anecdotes littered throughout, capturing the essence of the world of wine that goes beyond pulling corks and wearing well-pressed suits. It's an intimate, voyeuristic look at an echelon of restaurant professionals that we don't all get to see.
But this week, you'll be able to see Parr: He'll be acting as guest sommelier at Frasca Food & Wine, 1738 Pearl Street in Boulder, on Wednesday, January 5. A copy of his book is included in the $100 four-course prix fixe dinner.
Don't have time for a meal? The wine guru will be signing books at the Boulder Wine Merchant, 2690 Broadway in Boulder, from 3 to 5 p.m. on the same day.