In Las Vegas, Skip the Buffet and Head for the Sommelier

I was a bit surprised when Las Vegas sommelier William Sherer mentioned how difficult it is to get Australian and New Zealand wines on his wine list. In the dining room of a bonafide white tablecloth restaurant serving decadent foie gras and champagne, you’d think most wine and spirits distributors would be clamoring to have their beverages poured. Not so, says the wine director of Charlie Palmer’s Aurole.

“For some reason, they don’t want their wines in Vegas,” Sherer explained.

My fellow guests and I wondered if perhaps the vision of the old school Las Vegas was the culprit. Maybe our friends in the Southern Hemisphere had an outdated idea about the city of sin. After all, the expansive destination has come a long way since the days of seedy mafia connections and bad reputations. In recent years, Las Vegas has developed into a culinary mecca for travelers, executives, and foodies alike. With nearly thirty-eight million visitors traveling to the city in the last year, over $20 billion in development projects in progress, and award-winning food and wine fare at every turn, this ain’t your Grandma’s Vegas.

Culinary Fast Facts about Las Vegas:

  • There are 171 master sommeliers around the world, with a whopping eighteen of them located in Las Vegas, including B.R. Guest Director of Wine and Spirits Laura Maniec, who, in 2009, became the youngest active master sommelier.
  • Awards abound for the fantastic restaurants located in Las Vegas with seventeen fine dining spots receiving Michelin awards in 2009, including three stars for MGM Grand’s fabulous Joël Robuchon. AAA has named Alex at Wynn Las Vegas, Le Cirque and Picasso at Bellagio, Restaurant Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace, and Joël Robuchon Five Diamond Award winners as well.
  • Wine Director Danielle Price oversees wine lists at all fifteen of Wynn Las Vegas’s fine dining and casual restaurants, with a total inventory of more than 100,000 bottles, including a $50,000 bottle of 1990 Cristal Champagne.
  • Bradley Ogden in Caesars Palace received the James Beard Foundation Award for Best New Restaurant in the nation in 2004 – the first Las Vegas restaurant to win the title.
  • Las Vegas has been named a top culinary city by numerous food, wine, and travel outlets including Bon Appetit and

Planning a trip to Las Vegas? Check out the Visit Vegas site!

Stay tuned for our upcoming Travel Bites spotlights on food and beverage bests at Las Vegas’s MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, and Wynn Las Vegas.

~Jennifer Heigl

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