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Food & Drink

Top Sommeliers In Philadelphia

October 24, 2012 7:00 AM

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(Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Sommeliers do more than open your wine; they are responsible for ordering wines for their restaurant, creating and educating the staff on the wine list, managing the wine cellar, and suggesting food and wine pairings to diners. Philly has an especially large number of excellent sommeliers. Here’s the scoop on just a few.
Henry Greenly
Wine and Beverage Director
Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse
1426 Chestnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 246-0533
www.delfriscos.com

Henry Greenly has been with the Philadelphia Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse since it opened in 2008. After he graduated from Drexel, a couple of years in Europe whetted his appetite for learning about wines. Greenly handles the colossal wine list, many of which are housed in its imposing 40-foot wine tower. His previous experience at Southern Wines and Spirits informs the pricing and inventory strategies he brings to the entire wine and beverage program, and his presence in the dining room among the guests harkens back to his days with Georges Perrier. “When I successfully pick out that perfect bottle of wine for our guests that they’ve never tasted before, basically out of their comfort zone,” is the best part of the job, Greenly said.

Marco Avigo
General Manager/Master Sommelier
Penne Restaurant and Wine Bar
3611 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 823-6236
www.pennerestaurant.com

At the age of 26, Marco Avigo became the youngest master sommelier in Italy, after spending years at his father’s side at their home on the Lake of Garda, visiting wineries and meeting winemakers in Europe. More than five years ago, Avigo became general manager and master sommelier at Penne Restaurant and Wine Bar, in the Hilton Inn at Penn. Avigo said he is amazed that he continues to discover new wines and new winemakers and the learning never ends. Some wines he said he finds especially interesting are also budget-friendly: Barone Fini’s pinot grigio (Trentino Region, $12); Zaccagnini’s bianco di cicco (Abruzzi region, $14.99); Bertani’s Valpolicella (Veneto region, $16.99) and for those who like sweet wines, Pio Cesare’s moscato d’asti (Piedmont region, $18.99.) Because he believes in sharing his love of wines with everyone, Avigo will host a private wine class at Penne or in your own home. Call for prices.

Keith Wallace
President and Founder
The Wine School
127 S. 22nd St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 965-1514
www.vinology.com

Keith Wallace founded the Wine School of Philadelphia in 2001, is the wine columnist for The Daily Beast and is author of “Corked and Forked: Four Seasons of Eats & Drinks.” Wallace is the Alton Brown of wines, a loveable nerd who is passionate about sharing what he knows and making the subject of fine wines accessible to all. At press time, he is gearing up for the Wine School’s first-ever graduation ceremony for its two-year professional certification program. He recently traveled with his class to France, where he prepared a simply sublime feast: He grilled an enormous steak and served it with Pegau 2006 chateauneuf du pape. He swore it was one of the best meals he had ever eaten. If you’re not quite ready to commit to wine education, treat yourself and some friends to one of Wallace’s Corked & Forked events, where he personally crafts a menu and cooks for you, pairing the perfect wines with each course.

Related: Top Cookbooks Relating to Philadelphia

Melissa Monosoff
Master Sommelier
Savona
100 Old Gulph Road
Gulph Mills, PA 19428
(610) 520-1200
www.savonarestaurant.com

Savona Restaurant in Gulph Mills employs one of the very few female master sommeliers in the country, Melissa Monosoff. Monosoff has carefully procured all of the restaurant’s bottles of wine (more than 1,000) to bring the wine maker and the customer together for a perfect union. Her path to the wine cellar hasn’t been quite linear; she was pre-med at UNC Chapel Hill, supplementing her income with restaurant work. Realizing she was more fond of the dining room than the operating room, she enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America, afterward working in the kitchens of some of Philly’s top restaurants. While at Striped Bass, famed sommelier Marnie Old asked Monosoff to be her assistant, which eventually led to Monosoff heading up her own wine collection at Savona in 2008 and being named consulting sommelier to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, promising Pennsylvania residents have access to quality wines, in or out of her restaurant.

Jeff Benjamin
Partner and Sommelier
Vetri family of restaurants
1312 Spruce St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 732-3478
www.vetrifamily.com

Jeff Benjamin is partner and sommelier of the Vetri family of restaurants, including Amis, Vetri, Osteria and Alla Spina. When he joined the Vetri family in 1998, the wine cellar in Vetri held just 60 bottles. Today, it boasts more than 5,000 bottles with 500 labels. Benjamin travels to Italy several times a year, always coming back more and more inspired. He swears the sparkling wines in Northern Italy’s Lombardy region are as superb as Champagne. He said he is committed to making sure his customers receive the very best restaurant experience, including pairing the perfect wine with their meal. In fact, check out Osteria’s new tablet wine app, Wireless WineList, which lets diners order wine right from their iPads, sorting by region, type and price range. “This system allows our guests greater insight to what makes these wines unique,” he said.

Related: Top Chefs Heating Up the Culinary Scene in Philadelphia

Trish Deitemyer is a freelance writer living in Philly. She covers Food & Drink and has been writing since 1986. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.
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