Meet our Wine Expert

 

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PHOTO RANDY SCHMIDT

 

Food lover and wine enthusiast Barry Himel offers years of food and beverage knowledge to the Dickie Brennan & Company family of restaurants.

Barry draws from his extensive knowledge of wine, international cultures and his interest in art to curate a diverse wine and cocktail program that marries well with the classic and contemporary concepts prepared by the culinary teams.

A New Orleans native, Barry studied art history and design, and through his studies became fascinated with the way wine speaks to specific places and people.

After working as a server, bartender and assistant general manager during his early years, Barry knew that learning about wine was his true passion and decided to pursue a professional wine education. Having studied through The Wine & Spirit Education Trust and the Society of Wine Educators, Barry is a Certified Sommelier in the Court of Master Sommelier currently pursuing the Advanced Certification.

At home, Barry spends his time enjoying hiking, oil painting and working in his garden with his wife Jeny and daughter Veda.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST FALL IN LOVE WITH WINE?

I’ve always enjoyed wine. My parents often had wine at the dinner table.

It was during my first server job that the wine bug bit me.

IF YOU COULD DRINK ANY WINE THIS MOMENT, WHAT WOULD IT BE? WHY?

Anyone who knows me well could answer this one for me. Champagne – it rules all.

FAVORITE WINE AND FOOD PAIRING?

The first thing needed is seasonal ripe tomatoes, basil, burrata and extra virgin olive oil. Don’t forget the Fleur de Sel. I absolutely love this dish. The perfect wine needs to be a dry white with a steely/mineral character. Picpoul de Pinet is a wonderful option.

IS THERE A SPECIFIC BOTTLE YOU HAVE THAT YOU ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO TASTING?

I do have a small cellar at home, but nothing to brag about. Wine is made to be experienced, not held as a trophy. It’s challenging to lay bottles down knowing they are ready to be opened and enjoyed. Recently, I opened a bottle of M. Chapoutier Le Pavillon 98 from my first visit to Southern France many years ago. This was one of the few bottles I have kept with me over the years. It was well worth the wait.

TRIVIA: HOW MANY TYPES OF GRAPES ARE USED TO MAKE CHAMPAGNE?

Champagne is made mainly from three grape varieties:

  • Pinot Noir (a red variety)
  • Pinot Meunier (a red variety related to Pinot Noir)
  • Chardonnay (a white variety)

A few minor grapes — such as Petit Meslier, Arbane and Pinot Blanc — still survive in some of the region’s vineyards and are still permitted, but they cannot be replanted and are of little consequence.