A Sommelier’s Tasteful Passion

Sommelier Ryan Arnold shares his expertise on all things wine at EMA restaurant in River North. A native Chicagoan, Arnold was pursuing a career path in media when he began his studies in International Business at the University of Montana.


Photo Credit: Alissa Pagels, Image Retouching Brianna Kish.

He recalled that It was during his time as an undergraduate that wine sparked his interest.

“I was in Rome and then up north in Torino which is where I found the whole lifestyle and culture of wine. Every weekend being a student there I had Friday through Monday off so I would be on the road traveling around and run into wine country. It was the first time I realized that wine was more than a bottle or just a beverage.“

When he landed a job at ‘Lettuce Entertain You’ Arnold found that he could turn his love for wine into a career.

“That’s where I really fell in love with wine as a job. Working in that restaurant, opening wine, talking about the regions of Italy, was where it all started.”

After holding an array of positions focused on the wine importing industry, he took his passion a step further, becoming a sommelier in 2012. He views this as one of his greatest personal achievements. When asked about some of the more difficult tasks of being a sommelier Arnold said,

“Right now at the current moment, it’s more than ever a position that’s being glamorized. Everybody knows the word ‘sommelier’. It sounds very fancy, but there’s a lot of work that’s done kind of backstage.”

Those backstage tasks include receiving wine, doing inventory, spending time at home studying wine law changes, new producers,and even newly discovered wine regions.

The rewarding aspects of his job definitely outweigh the challenges. For Arnold, drinking wine is a complete experience. He opens the door to the world of wine for all levels of wine drinkers and enthusiasts. He shared just such a moment with us.

“Last night there were some diners at the bar, three friends who were

from the neighborhood and they were just so excited to see wines on the list that they didn’t even know existed. My greatest joy is finding new wine regions, finding new wines that I’m excited about and then being able to turn our wait staff, our servers and our guests, on to them.”

According to Arnold, you can be a sommelier and not necessarily have to be certified, as long as your primary job is in a restaurant curating the wine list, and sharing your enthusiasm with guests.

For those who don’t know much about wine except that they like to drink it, don’t fret; Arnold has some guidance for you regarding wine from Italy and France, the two largest wine producers respectively. He advises wine drinkers not to be intimidated. Sales are trending towards New Zealand, Australian and American wines because they are more user-friendly including having the name of the grape right on the label. You will find the word Chardonnay on the bottles of wine from those areas. This is not the case for French and Italian wines, which are labeled by region such as Bordeaux and Tuscany.

Arnold’s success for pursuing his passion is evident, from working in popular restaurants such as RPM Italian and Paris Club Bistro & Bar. His multiple awards include Wine Enthusiast’s Top 40 under 40 list in 2015. Despite all of his achievements, he still finds time to give back. He recently participated in a charity bike ride to help end childhood hunger, raising just over a million dollars.

“That was really only possible because we can meet people right here in the restaurant. We have a whole community that supports us. It’s so easy to caught up in eating and drinking and having fun but to know that you can actually use your position to draw attention to issues and help is really cool.”

About author

This article was written by Danielle Gregory

Add a Facebook Comment

phản hồi

No Comments

Leave your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *