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Which sommeliers have secret stashes?

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  1. Don't they all?

    1 Reply
    1. re: J.L.

      We know a lot of somms. That was my thought exactly.

      And they don't have something you want, for the $ (and depending on special incentives and commission cycles) they'll get it for you!

    2. if you have the $$$$$$$$,
      any decent sommelier will have the stash.

      9 Replies
      1. re: westsidegal

        wsg, don't you think, for symmetry's and poetic's sake, you should have typed "cash" instead of dollar signs?

        just sayin.

        1. re: linus

          sure.
          i was trying to get the point across that just asking about the presence or absence of a stash without mention of a specific high amount of money that you truly intend to spend on the stashed item, will not likely work as well.

          pulling out off-menu items for looky-loos is not a very satisfying experience for a sommelier.
          this is especially true if the restaurant is packed with people that really will utilize his/her services (i.e. spend real money on wine).

          1. re: westsidegal

            Agree that given the right amount of cash, any sommelier can probably source whatever you want.

            What I meant by "secret stash" was more about their own private "off-menu" list of wines that they have on hand that they particularly love - in a sort of personal idiosyncratic fashion - and keep for those certain clientele. I'm thinking in particular of "off menu" lists like the one at Rouge Tomate in NYC -- reasonably priced and personal "faves" of the somm.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Sotto has a separate "captain's list".

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Rouge Tomate is a great restaurant and Pascaline a great, thoughtful somm.

                1. re: revets2

                  In many ways, I wish the sous chef was as passionate and stellar as the sommelier.

                2. re: ipsedixit

                  that's what i meant too.
                  if you are not already identified in the restaurant as the sort of customer that wants and will pay for "secret stash" types of wines, the best way to BECOME identified as such is to offer to buy that type of wine and to actually buy it.

                  typically "secret stash" sorts of wines are more costly than the stuff that gets normally stocked and normally gets printed on the wine list or blackboard.

                  1. re: westsidegal

                    That hasn't been my experience. It's usually more about interest and an inquisitive mind about vinification than a willingness to spend large amounts of cash. And being a repeat customer doesn't really advance the ball much unless the aforementioned isn't demonstrated.

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      i used to date a man who normally liked to get wine from the "private stash."
                      when we went to a new restaurant, he would engage the sommeler in a wine discussion and would say something like:
                      "i am looking for an "ABC" -type of wine costing about "XYZ."
                      do you have anything not listed on the wine list that comes close?

                      the XYZ price level he specified was always well in excess of the "sweet spot" on the wine list.

                      his question would start the discussion that led to the "private stash" being made available.
                      can't think of once when he ended up ordering off of the wine list.
                      can, however, clearly remember the taste of the last Barolo i had with him in 1989. . . . .

          2. Hakkasan Miami had an off the menu rare/old cellar. Maybe the BH one has one also?

            The Patina list has enough goodies to satisfy.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Porthos

              Patina does have an off-menu list.

            2. Seeing as virtually every restaurant in LA has a BYOB policy, I'd avoid buying any high end wine when dining out...unless, of course, it's an expense account meal :)

              1 Reply
              1. re: manku

                I completely agree except certain restaurants have high end aged bottles that are on the list for less than what you could find at current retail prices. Very very rare of course, but Patina has one of those lists.

              2. Ipse...I hear what you're saying. Those coveted high QPR bottles can be a somm's emotional gems. Most good somms have them, it's just a matter of cultivating relationships.

                We love being introduced to a new winemaker like Broc or Dirty & Rowdy by a wine manager/somm/merchant.