Parker James. Man with wine glasses

Holiday 2022 Q&A

Q: What do you bring to a holiday party when you want to impress?
A: I always find that when you bring a magnum of Champagne or Riesling it's impressive no matter how modest or grand the wines are. I do my best to search out the best crowd pleasers so everyone can enjoy a glass or two.

Q: What are you serving at your table for the holidays?
A: I have a significant amount of dinners/get-togethers this holiday season that I’m either hosting or attending so I have been stocking up in the past month. Thanksgiving with family always calls for a few bottles of J. Foillard Morgon, and Christmas dinner I always flip flop between Bordeaux and California but I finally decided on a younger Ridge Monte Bello we carry. I’m also hosting a few dinners in between with friends over different cuisine genres, so I’m eyeing a few bottles of Burgundy and Rhone as well.

Q: Is there a wine or spirit you’ve been saving for a special occasion, or something special on your wish list?
A: I purchased a Jeroboam of M. LaPierre Morgon 2009 a while back, and I’ve been holding on to it for the perfect dinner to host with a group of friends. My goal is to hopefully have one grand bistro Lyonnaise bash where that jero is the centerpiece around great food and company.

Q: What was the first bottle you tasted that made up your mind to go into wine?
A: It was a glass of Chateauneuf du Pape that I had during my wine course at Culinary School. Unfortunately I do not remember the producer but it ignited my passion for wine and made me completely switch my whole degree to focus on fine wine and beverage management. It’s always funny how these things work out because a year prior to that glass of wine I thought I would focus exclusively on cooking, and now wine is a huge part of my life!

Q: Are there any “sleeper” producers that you think people should know about?
A: Francoise Bedel is a fantastic small producer in Champagne - heavily Pinot Meunier based with a nice oxidative touch that balances the wines perfectly. She was biodynamic certified before it was a trend and it really shows both in the vineyard and in the glass. I also really enjoy the wines of G. Gilles, his reds are very serious and punch well above their weight. He has a few different cuvees and has inherited and purchased some key parcels in Cornas that are fantastic expressions of Syrah.

Q: You’ve met some pretty incredible people across your food and wine career. What was one of your favorite experiences?
A: Working in fine dining you meet so many great and interesting people across the world, it’s really hard to narrow it down to a few! Daniel Calvert who is the Executive Chef at the Four Seasons in Tokyo is by far one of the most talented chefs I’ve ever met. He also really enjoys wine, specifically Champagne, so his food seems to always be set up for the perfect pairing.

Another time when I was living in Napa Valley for a brief period, I was able to interview Mike Martini from the Louis M. Martini winery and it was fascinating. Having an in person perspective on how much the valley has changed and evolved over the years was so interesting. There are few people who have lived and worked in Napa since the 50’s and 60’s, and having a living reference of where these great wine regions started and how they’ve evolved is so valuable!

Q: If you could host an event with anyone in the world – who would you invite, and what would you drink?
A: With family and friends being such a big part of my life, I would fly them all to a Tuscan villa where I’d arrange a long center table buckling under the weight of wines from Brunello di Montalcino and Maremma. We’d share memories and laughs and great food and just enjoy life. It doesn’t take much for me to be happy, and even though I appreciate grand things, simplicity is where I’m happiest.

Q: What is the most surprising food and wine pairing you’ve ever experienced?
A: Aged Rioja or Penfolds Grange and winter truffles is by far a better pairing than anything I’ve experienced, the wines just work so well as they develop with age. I had a dinner with friends where we paired seared foie gras with aged Chave Hermitage Blanc, and the weight of the wine harmonized with the rich foie gras almost better than a Sauternes. And for fun if you’re not drinking a soda with your Smoke Shack cheeseburger, have a glass of Turley Zinfandel. Wines aged in American Oak, and bacon. Those two were made to be together. That’s a perfect pair.

Q: What Champagne are you opening for New Year’s Eve?
A: Probably a bottle of Billecart Salmon, the Brut Reserve is a great crowd pleaser and even en magnum it’s a great wine. If it’s not the Brut Reserve I really enjoy the vintaged bottlings. The Cuvee Louis Blanc de Blancs 2008 was released this year and is a really great expression of the 2008 powerhouse vintage.

Q: What is something that most people don’t know about you?
A: I’m a pretty avid outdoorsman. When I’m not going to dinners with friends, I’m usually out fishing, hunting, or missing the fairway at the golf course during the summer. It works hand in hand that game meats and wine pair so well so I often over treat myself with some rather grand dinners at the apartment.




Parker James. Man with wine glass in front of his face
Fine & Rare Wine Expert
ABOUT Parker james

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Cellar Sommelier and alum of Per Se, and recipient of Walter Clore’s scholarship (awarded for achieving the highest score amongst the three testing categories in the Certified Sommelier Exam) through the Court of Master Sommeliers, Parker began his career with Acker in 2018. He’s worked in Business Development and Fine Wine coordination, and his ability to match just about any food with the perfect wine pairing is well-known and widely sought. Parker’s passion for wine and spirits is contagious, and his friendly and approachable personality has cemented him as a first stop for recommendations of every variety regarding food, wine, and spirits.

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