20 Questions with Wine Director Mike Muser

A little bit of a departure from Chef’s this week to play 20 questions with Michael Muser, the Wine Director from the Peninsula Hotel. I worked with Mike at the hotel and learned a tremendous amount not only about wine but also how to make wine work for you in the restaurant from pairings to the buying and selling.

He’s one of the funnier guys I know and he is a very good dresser. Always quick to make you laugh his knowledge of wine rivals that of many in the city. His easy going nature allows wine to be less intimidating not only for the server to learn but for the guest to enjoy.

Mike went through the questions quickly. I felt like we were playing rapid fire at times!

Name                                  Michael Muser
Restaurant                        Avenues
Married                              Violet
Kids                                      2 Dogs
Age                                       36 years old
From                                   Orange County, CA
Wine Certification          Int’l Sommelier Guild
Cork Hand                         Right Handed
Twitter Handle                None

1. What did you have for dinner last night?
Beef Kim-chi from the restaurant family meal

2. Place you eat most often on days off?
Butterfly sushi

3. Favorite ingredient to work with?
Macaroni and Cheese

4. If you got $1,000 how would you spend it?
Motorcycle Upgrades – Honda VTK 1300

5. First word that comes to mind when I say Michelin?
Determination

6. Favorite Charity Event that you do?
Jean Banchet Awards – Cystic Fibrosis

7. Last weekend on earth – what city are you eating in?
San Francisco

8. If you weren’t working with wine, what would you do for a living?
Actor

9. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Theatre Actor

10. Most exotic vacation destination that you’ve been to?
Prague

11. If you left Chicago to cook somewhere else, where would you go?
New York

12. Person you would most like to open a bottle of wine for?
Kevin Zraly – founder of the Windows on the World Wine School.

13. Do you have any pet peeves?
Mike - Yes, opinions
CFS - Anything specific
Mike - Overzealous food critics, bad journalism.

14. What is new on your DVR?
I’ve been watching Generation Kill. I didn’t get to watch it so I’ve been watching that.

15. Dish on the menu at Avenues you eat most?
Alaskan King Crab Dish

16. Is there a Holy Grail of wines that you would want to taste?
Every vintage ever made of Vega Sicilia at one time – huge vertical. I really prefer old Rioja’s.

17. Thing about wine most novices get wrong?
The word smooth.

18. If you could be a winemaker what region of the world would you go to?
Sonoma, CA

19. Fill in the blank – Smoking a good cigar is like ------
It’s the men’s version of a woman taking a bath. You have to do it slowly and take your time

20. Favorite accompaniment to drink when you smoke cigars?
Macallan 18

21. You’re a very good dresser. What do you enjoy shopping for more – Ties, Colored Shirts or Suits?
Shirts

If you liked these 20 questions, check out the how Ryan Poli, Francis Brenna, Giuseppe Tentori, Charlie McKenna, and Chris Pandel answered.

Joe Campagna is the Chicago Food Snob. A former restaurant General Manager, Server and Chef you can find him on twitter @chifoodsnob. You can reach him through email at chicagofoodsnob@hotmail.com. Joe is retained as a compensated blogger by Pei Wei Asian Diner.

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