Sherry Wine News

Meet Sherry Week Ambassador Michael Maller

Introducing Michael Maller, International Sherry Week Ambassador USA & Beverage Director at Mateo and General Manager of Vin Rouge, both in Durham, NC.

While I have been a fan of Sherry for years, it wasn't until I visited Jerez before I felt a strong passion for it. I remember walking into the bodega at La Cigarrera and immediately getting it. The place smelled just like their Manzanilla I had been enjoying for years!

Michael began his career in the restaurant business in the early 1990s in Wilmington, NC and has never looked back.  He moved to NYC with his wife (then fiancée,) Gwen, in 2002 to attend The French Culinary Institute.  While in NY, Michael was lucky to work as a captain and bartender at Gramercy Tavern where he was submerged in learning about wine with a sense of place.  After leaving New York, Michael moved back to NC and settled in Chapel Hill.  In 2005, he joined Vin Rouge, a French Bistro in Durham, NC, as General Manager. He developed, and has continued to evolve, the wine program at Vin Rouge focusing on terroir driven wines.  He caught the attention of Eric Asimov of The New York Times in 2011 because of his offerings of Sherry on an otherwise all-French wine list.

Michael learned the basics of Sherry while working at Gramercy Tavern from Nick Mautone, Karen King and Juliette Pope. But, it wasn't until a trip to Jerez in preparation for opening Mateo, a Spanish Tapas bar in Durham where Michael is the Beverage Director, when it really clicked. "I remember walking into the bodega at La Cigarrera and immediately understanding what it's all about. The aromas in the air screamed of their Manzanilla which I already knew and enjoyed."  Since then, Michael uses the term "airroir" in describing sense of place while talking about sherry instead of "terroir."  Upon opening Mateo, his wine list, specifically the Sherry section, caught the attention of Food & Wine magazine and Mateo was recognized as one of the best new places in the US to drink wine in 2012.  Then, in 2013, the extensive Sherry program at Mateo helped encourage Eric Asimov to write an article for The New York Times about the food and wine culture in "The Triangle" of North Carolina.

In developing the cocktail menu at Mateo, Michael became fascinated by Sherry's versatility in cocktails.  He loves using all styles of Sherry - some to add umami while others for sweetness or acidity.  He was honored to be a finalist in the 2015 US Sherry Cocktail Competition.

Try Michael's favorite Sherry pairing, Almejas Pequeñas and Manzanilla Pasada.

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Sherry Wines U.S.
Official US office representing Sherry Wines. Love Sherry? Us too. Local news, tastings, cocktails & food, everything is better with Sherry, Salúd!
Sherry Wines U.S. @SherryWinesUS
15 October 2015
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