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Dispelling Myths About Wine And Sommeliers in Las Vegas

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Christopher Smith

Kirk Peterson talks wine for the holidays.

Bringing a bottle of wine to a holiday party or pairing the right wine with Christmas dinner sounds easy enough, until you walk into a wine shop and realize you have no idea what you’re looking for.

For the most part, we all want the same thing – A wine that not only tastes good, but is price right.

So should you go for a Burgundy, Bordeaux or Pinot Noir? Or, maybe a bottle of Port is more appropriate for the holidays.

To get some advice on buying wine, we outed to Kirk Peterson. He is beverage director and certified sommelier with Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group in Las Vegas.

"A great bottle of wine is like finding your new favorite band and I think you want to share it with people," Peterson said.

However, Peterson believes a lot of people have the joy of wine clouded over by worry. He said misinformation combined with the sheer volume of information make people think wine is more complicated than it really is. 

He said sommeliers don't have any special tricks, they've just drunk a lot more wine. 

"We're not wizards," he explained, "We're just drinking a lot more than you have and we're paying a little bit more attention."

He said there is a "cultural weight" given to wine in American that is not there in Europe. He said it is better to keep it simple. 

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"It's still food," Peterson said, "It's meant to be consumed and consumed with pleasure not pretense."

He also believes there is not always a connection between the price of wine and how it will complement what you're eating, meaning a $10 bottle could be the perfect choice for the meal while a $200 bottle would not the right choice at all. 

"Fundamentally, what a sommelier is there to do is complement the meal," he explained. "You're a saucier as much as you are a sommelier."

However, most people who have bought a bottle of wine at a grocery store, wine shop or liquor warehouse most likely have been overwhelmed by the number of options from varietals to vintages to regions to reserves.

Peterson advises choosing a wine like you choose anything else. 

"First and foremost, rely on the expertise of somebody else," he said. "Look for someone you can trust, whether they be a friend that you can text, the proprietor of a wine shop, a sommelier at a restaurant."

He also suggested reading wine magazines and blogs, which abound with just about every kind of emphasis. He also suggests finding a vintner you like and sticking with them. 

"Find a producer of wine that you really enjoy and follow them just like you would in a band," he said. 

As for finding the perfect bottle to take to Christmas dinner this Friday, Peterson suggests champagne. 

"You can never go wrong," he said. "It is an impeccable food wine." 

He also said it is not as expensive as many people believe and goes with everything from turkey to latkes. 

Peterson also contributes an occasional wine column for Vegas Seven.

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Guests

Kirk Peterson, beverage director and certified sommelier, Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group

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