Best Sommelier (2003)
Todd Lincicome (Al Biernat's)
Sooner or later, things become too complicated. This is true no matter the arena or walk of life. When our knowledge of the human body extended no further than the four humors, any barber could apply medicinal leeches or perform annual bleedings. Now we need specialists to assist the specialists referring us to other specialists who deny our medical insurance. Such is the case in the world of viniculture as well. In the old days, there was good wine (meaning French) or Thunderbird. Today, more than a million drinkable wines from vineyards in New Zealand and Argentina and South Africa and so on gather dust on shelves around the world. Todd Lincicome can discourse for hours on everything from soil types and rainfall amounts in wine-producing regions to storage conditions of individual vintages. Yet he lacks the snootiness we seem to expect from wine experts. Ask him for a decent, inexpensive wine (he doesn't even mind if you use the word "cheap") and he'll launch into a discussion of bargain bottles. Even tricky orders--"I'm having beef and like a dry red; she's having fish and enjoys a sweet white"--never throw him.