Secrets of the Sommeliers: How to Think and Drink Like the World's Top Wine Professionals (Hardcover)

By Rajat Parr, Jordan MacKay, Ed Anderson (Photographer)
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A fascinating exploration of the inside world of sommeliers, sharing their unique perspectives, extensive expertise, and best stories.
Rajat Parr's profound knowledge of wines, deep relationships with producers, and renowned tasting abilities have made him a legend in the business. As wine director for the Mina Group, Parr presides over the lists at some of the country's top restaurants. In "Secrets of the Sommeliers," Parr and journalist Jordan Mackay present a fascinating portrait of the world's top wine professionals and their trade. The authors interviewed the elite of the sommelier community, and their colleagues' insights, recommendations, and entertaining stories are woven throughout, along with Parr's own takes on his profession and favorite winemakers and wines. Along the way, the authors give an immersion course in tasting and serving wine; share strategies for securing hard-to-find bottles at a good price and identifying value sweetspots among the many regions; and teach readers how to make inspired food pairings.
Winner - 2011 James Beard Cookbook Award - Beverage Category.

About the Author

Jordan Mackay is the wine and spirits writer for San Francisco magazine. He also writes "Juice," the drinks column for His writing on food, wine, spirits, and beer has also appeared in "The New York Times, San Francisco, Chronicle, Decanter, Wine Enthusiast, Wine and Spirits, Food & Wine, Gourmet", and other publications. His first book, "Passion for Pinot", was published in 2009. He just recently won a 2011 James Beard Award in the Beverage category for his second book, "Secrets of the Sommeliers".

Christie Dufault is a San Francisco-based sommelier and wine educator. After five years as Wine Director at Gary Danko and two years as Wine Director at Quince, she is currently a part-time sommelier at RN74 in San Francisco. Her day job is as a member of the wine faculty at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in the Napa Valley, where she has instructed for eight years. Christie is also a visiting instructor at the San Francisco Wine Center, which opened in 2010.


Julie and Matt Walker

The owners of the creative studio Tiger in a Jar ( in Salt Lake City, UT, Julie and Matt specialize in film and creative craft projects, and exploring new ways to make things less ordinary. They spend most of their free time obsessing over food.

Saukok and Jamie Tiampo

A trained chef and photographer, Jamie owns SeeFood Media, a kitchen studio specializing in food-focused TV and web video production Saukok owns 57Grand, a weddingwear collection inspired by New York, and REVEL, a shop-able inspiration site for modern celebrations.

Mindy Segal and Dan Thompkins

A James Beard-nominated pastry chef, Mindy is the owner of HotChocolate Restaurant and Dessert Bar in Chicago. Her writing has been featured in numerous national publications. In their free time, Mindy and Dan can be found searching for antiques or drinking craft beer all over the world.

Andrea Reusing and Mac Mccaughan

Andrea is the chef and owner of Lantern in Chapel Hill, NC and the author of "Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes". Mac plays music with Superchunk and Portastatic and is the co-founder of the independent record label Merge Records.

Molly Wizenberg and Brandon Pettit

In 2009, Molly and Brandon opened the restaurant Delancey in Seattle.Brandon is the chef. Molly created Orangette (, named the best food blog in the world by the "London Times", and her first book was a "New York Times" bestseller.

Lisa and Emmett Fox

After several years in Boston heading up a catering company and different kitchens, Lisa and Emmett moved to Austin and opened ASTI Trattoria and FINO Restaurant Patio & Bar. Both spots reflect their continued passion for travel and culinary adventure.

Ryan Farr is a chef, entrepreneur, butcher, butchery teacher, and the founder of 4505 Meats. He lives in San Francisco.

Praise For…

“Parr & Jordan open a window onto the workings of a great sommeliers mind. . . .The result is part history lesson, part insider’s guide to the best producers and best buys, but, most of all, it’s a testament to all the hard work that goes into being a great sommelier.”
—Wine & Spirits, December 2010

“If you or your friends want to read about wine and friendship, learn about the camaraderie of the sommelier profession, and discover from insiders how to select wine, you must absolutely get Rajat Parr and Jordan McKay's new book, Secrets of the Sommeliers.”
—The Atlantic’s Food Channel, 12/20/10

“No one understands the meaningful details of enjoying wine - and how to communicate them to the public – quite like a skilled sommelier, and Rajat Parr, the wine director for Michael Mina's many restaurants, is one of America's best. In his collaboration with journalist Jordan Mackay, Parr manages to pour forth an impressive breadth of wisdom, both practical and esoteric, in a very manageable 200-page gulp illustrated with evocative sepia-toned photos.”
—Philadelphia Inquirer, 12/16/10

“The best wine book to come across my desk in awhile. . . . This intelligent, understated book is a must for any wine lover, budding or educated.”
—San Francisco Bay Guardian, Appetite: Delicious giving, 12/3/10

“Readers will put this book down with a better understanding of their restaurant experience, and may head put to dine with a little less fear of the sommelier. And while we don't typically dine at home the way we do in restaurants, our own wine choices as ‘home sommeliers’ will be better informed from this book.”
—, All We Can Eat blog, 12/2/10

“Parr and Mackay’s handbook for aspiring sommeliers is, unexpectedly, one of the most user-friendly manuals for the wine-curious to come along. . . . That’s because its subject isn’t really wine—it’s how to master the practical application of wine to every-day life. Everything in the book (especially the candid anecdotes from wine masters) illuminates an aspect of tasting, buying, pairing, or pouring. And insider tips not covered in more encyclopedic tomes, such as how to recognize boutique “grower” champagnes just from the label, are guaranteed to boost your wine ego after a single read.”
—San Francisco magazine, November 2010

“A new take to the omnibus-guide genre. ‘Secrets’ harnesses Parr's immense pool of knowledge and observations from the nation's top wine directors for a pointed, thoughtful take on the essentials of wine.”
—San Francisco Chronicle, 11/28/10

“For the advanced wine geek, this book will become a bible. . . . If you're not thinking like a sommelier now you will be by book's end.”
—San Jose Mercury News, Holiday Gift Guide for Foodies, 11/24/10

"A good gift for the wine-obsessed."
—S. Irene Virbila, L.A. Times Daily Dish blog, 11/15/10

“‘Secrets’ performs the invaluable task of mining not only Parr's brain but also the expertise of many Bay Area sommelierati for a very focused take on how to choose wine, understand a wine list and buy with a savvy eye.  . . .It provides an inside track that's so often missing from most buying guides' neutral tone.”
—San Francisco Chronicle, 11/7/10

"Oenophiles on any level could learn from this exploration into the inside world of wine and the people who present it."
—, 11/1/10

“Parr, director of wine for Michael Mina's restaurants, and San Francisco-based writer Jordan Mackay have penned an indispensable tool. Not simply a peek into the mind of Parr and his wine-loving compatriots, the book is full of useful tips.”
—Tasting Table SF, 10/19/10

"Whether your aspiration is to become a world class sommelier, or simply to find a better bottle of Burgundy, this is a must-have book for any passionate wine consumer."
—Jon Troutman,, 10/19/10

“Let me say that this is a fascinating look at a world of after-hours tastings and tenacious debates, at the wines that many sommeliers care most about, and at restaurant service from an insider’s view. We meet many unusual and charismatic personalities, not least of whom is Mr. Parr, whose journey from a childhood in Calcutta to the highest level of American wine culture is testimony to energy, talent and hard work. And, in the tradition of the best sommeliers, useful lessons and tips are conveyed painlessly and entertainingly.”
—Eric Asimov, New York Times Diner’s Journal, 10/5/10

"It's a comprehensive book that's perfect for any oenophile—or anybody wanting to become one."
—Condé Nast Traveler, Moveable Feast blog, 8/6/10

Product Details
ISBN: 9781580082983
ISBN-10: 158008298X
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Publication Date: October 19th, 2010
Pages: 240
Language: English