We got the chance to catch up with one of our DOPE judges, Michael Smith who helped award several wines during our 2020 Wine Competition. Michael shared a little about himself and his wine preferences as a millennial working in the wine industry. Here’s what he said!

MC: Hey Michael! Tell us about yourself…

Michael: Hi there! My name is Michael Smith, originally from Templeton, California. I dropped out of college after being offered an internship at a winery in Paso Robles in 2011. After that first internship I was hooked. I ended up doing another one with a local vineyard management company being able to see both sides of winemaking and vineyard management definitely helped in my early career as most sommeliers rarely come from a production background. After the vineyard management internship I moved paths to a wine shop and bar in Templeton that really got things going regarding my studying and sharing wine with consumers.

I moved to Los Angeles in 2016 to pursue a career as a sommelier. I’ve been fortunate while being in LA being able to work with very well known Chefs as well as Wine/Beverage directors. Most recently I was at 1 Michelin Star restaurant, Osteria Mozza with Nancy Silverton before COVID put restaurants to a halt!

MC: Working as a floor sommelier you hear a ton of myths, faux-paus, and misunderstandings about wine and wine consumption that have been fed to people time and time again. Which one bugs you the most?

Michael: This one is a tough one since I have so many….LOL! I think the myth that the older the wine is, the better. I just have to shake my head and kindly redirect that idea in their head.

MC: What is your biggest advice to a consumer when they’re picking the perfect wine?

Michael: The best advice for a consumer that is looking for wine is to find something they like regardless of what I or any other sommelier think about it. At the end of the day you have to drink whatever makes you happy even though I may not drink it. I also think it’s important to have an open mind about trying something new because that’s obviously the only way you’ll find new wines you love.

 “It’s important to have an open mind about trying something new because that’s obviously the only way you’ll find new wines you love.”

MC: If you could drink wine from only ONE region in the whole world, which region would it be and why?

Michael: If price wasn’t an issue, it would be Burgundy. It’s just the purest form of some of the most classic varietals. But if we are being realistic it would probably be Friuli in North Eastern Italy. There are so many different styles and so different grapes grown there. And the best part is that it won’t break the bank like some of the other well known regions. 

Thanks for chatting with us Michael! We can’t wait to see your picks for next year’s competition.