Wine Geek and Spirit Savant Steve Olson: On What We're Drinking Now and What We'll Be Drinking in the Future

Steve Olson on panel.jpg
Courtesy of
Steve Olson moderating a panel on building a wine team
Steve Olson

Chef Salad is taking a detour this week and next, interviewing four of the country's leading beverage industry experts, all of whom will be speakers at seminars held at the Hotel Valley Ho for the second annual Arizona Cocktail Week, February 16-22. Their excitement about cocktail culture is infectious and their knowledge of wine, spirits, cocktails and the history behind them is beyond impressive.

See also:
-- Small-Batch Spirits Dazzle at Micah Olson's Bar Crudo
-- AZ Cocktail Week Kicks Off Feb. 16. Expect a Carnival, Competition and Seminars. Better Line Up a Designated Driver.

Geeky? You bet! But they're also down-to-earth hospitality types who started out behind the bar (Olson excepted) and still love being there. Today, you'll hear from Steve Olson (background after the jump). Come back Tuesday for Charlotte Voisey's take on bartenders versus mixologists and how Prohibition affected cocktail culture.

Steve Olson 160-240-crop.jpg
Steve Olson
Before Steve Olson was THE Steve Olson -- one of the country's foremost experts on alcoholic beverages of every stripe as well as the wine and beer consultant for Bon Appetit Magazine -- he was the wine sommelier at the former Christopher's and Christopher's Bistro, a one-time local boy who made it big. These days, he traverses the country teaching, lecturing, consulting, writing about and celebrating wine, beer and spirits.

Trends you're seeing in wine-making: More food -friendly, balanced wines, with a trend towards less oak, and less alcohol (thank God!).

And what are people drinking?: Riesling (finally) is the darling of somms, especially Austrian and German Riesling. Rose (FINALLY!) from the Mediterranean regions of Spain, Greece, Italy and Southern France---people are really, actually drinking Rose! Greek wines such as Moschofilero, Xinomavro and Agiorgitiko, and especially Assyrtiko from Santorini are also becoming popular.

Spanish wines: Sherry is the hottest dry wine today as well as the choice ingredient in cocktails, adored by bartenders, somms, and chefs; Priorat wines are hotter than ever; Godello is the new/old white wine, amazing me and some of the most in-the-know wine geeks out there; Toro is up and coming, and Bierzo is the future.

Chile is actually living up to former expectations, and now is finally making some world-class juice, namely Carmenere blends, and working ever further south into even cooler regions. Argentine Malbec continues to blow up all over the US, and there is some seriously amazing wine being made there (besides all of the ones that are inexpensive but delicious)

Small Italian producers from formerly obscure regions all over the country continue to produce really good wine at crazy low prices. (Sicily, Puglia, Trentino, Campania, Molise, Sardegna)

Location Info


Hotel Valley Ho

6850 E. Main St., Scottsdale, AZ

Category: General

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

Now Trending

From the Vault