Robert Bohr on being a sommelier: “It’s all about the elevating the guests’ experience.”
Above: Restaurateurs and leading sommeliers Grant Reynolds (left) and Robert Bohr at this year’s festival.
Earlier this year, leading wine writer Elin McCoy called Robert Bohr one of “New York’s sommelier old guard.”
His list at Charlie Bird, which he co-authors with another one of the city’s celebrity sommeliers, Grant Reynolds, is “a window into the New York wine zeitgeist,” she wrote.
I caught up with Robert at the festival last month and we chatted about what it means to be a sommelier today and why he comes to the festival every year to participate and pour.
He’s one of the highest-profile wine professionals working in the U.S. today but when it comes to be a sommelier, it’s all about “elevating the guests’ experience.”
“Being a sommelier is learning how to respect an artisanal process,” he said. “It’s a craft that you’re always working to perfect. Just like an athlete, you need to taste over and over again, honing your skills because tasting wine is like a muscle.”
But the most important element is service, he told me.
“Interacting with guests and elevating their experience,” he explained, “that’s what being a sommelier means. It’s the foundation of being a sommelier. Yes, you can learn how to saber a bottle of Champagne and taste and taste. But if you’re first motivation isn’t to elevate your guests’ experience, you’re not doing your job.”
When I asked him about why so many celebrities seem to flock to his restaurants, he grinned.
“Celebrities like to be treated like regular people and regular people like to be treated like celebrities,” he said.
“You have to be committed to your craft. I think that a lot of celebrities see that I’m as committed to mine as they are to theirs and they respond to that.”
Why does he volunteer each year for the Boulder Burgundy Festival?
“Boulder is a beautiful place and the people involved with the festival are some of the people I look up to the most. We don’t get to work together enough. This is this perfect oasis for the work that we do and we’re lucky to get to drink these wines so often and have the opportunity to talk about Burgundy.”