5 Things We Learned About Wine from Rammy-Nominated Sommelier Todd Thrasher

By Rina Rapuano  |  March 19, 2014

Restaurant Eve’s Todd Thrasher is so inextricably linked to cocktails (he was instrumental in sparking their resurgence in DC), many might not realize that his sommelier skills are just as sharp. In fact, he says wine was the gateway for his successful career of making sure guests drink well - no matter what they choose.

Last night, Thrasher and his team at Restaurant Eve were named among five Rammy Award nominees for Wine Program of the Year, along with 2941 Restaurant, The Curious Grape, Estadio and Ripple. Eve’s chef-owner Cathal Armstrong was also nominated as Chef of the Year and Restaurateur of the Year (with wife Meshelle). The winners will be announced at a black-tie gala June 22.

We caught up with Thrasher today to pick his brain about wines, and here’s what we found out:

1. Well, that was a surprise: As much energy as Thrasher puts into his wine list - saying he updates it every single day - he thought this was the year they would win for the cocktail program. (He says they’ve been nominated for cocktails several years - except this year - and never won.)

2. I'll have a beer: Thrasher says it’s a big red flag for him when he sees a wine list with a Kendall Jackson wine on it. Not that he hasn’t downed his fair share of the wine that he says can be found on 7-11 shelves. He says it just shows that a restaurant has put no thought into their wines, and they’re likely having distributors write the list.

3. What does the drink-master drink? He says he leans heavily on French Pinot Noirs for the Restaurant Eve wine list, because he feels that they pair best with a variety of dishes. But if he were crafting his own personal list? “I would probably do and all-Spanish list because that’s what I love to drink.” Although, if Thrasher’s feeling like ordering a white at a restaurant, “I usually drink Chablis, probably 90 percent of the time for white. Most of the time, Chablis is very earthy and mineral driven, and that’s what I like about it.”

4. Even wildly successful sommeliers worry about job security: Thrasher says that when contemplating the wine offerings, he strives to find lesser-known labels. “If you make a wine list that has labels everyone knows, then why would you ask for the sommelier?” he says. “And I think it adds to the overall experience at Eve that you can talk to someone about the wine list and they can guide you in the right direction.”

5. The next big things: Thrasher says we’re going to start seeing a lot more wines coming out of Portugal, which he is “digging a lot, and the price is right.” He also says Washington State on the verge of being where Oregon was 10 years ago, wine-wise. As for modernizing his program, he’d love to transfer the wine list to iPads like Jaleo has done - but that he’ll have to convince Armstrong first.