Bernard Sun — known to friends as “Bernie” — is one of the country’s most respected sommeliers, and with good reason. His wine knowledge and palate are the result of years of study and work in New York’s top restaurants. Recipient of the 2010 James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Wine Service Award while at Jean-Georges, the eponymous restaurant of Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Bernie also slung a corkscrew as sommelier of Gray Kunz’s four-star Lespinasse, Sirio Macchioni’s renowned Le Cirque 2000, and Drew Nieporent’s legendary Montrachet. Bernie also had a stint as a winemaker, making wine in Napa, Bergerac and the Willamette Valley under his III Somms label. Additionally, his expertise is frequently requested by the press, as he’s been quoted and featured in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, GQ, Food & Wine, Wine Spectator, Wine & Spirits, and Beverage Media. Today he is the Luxury Accounts Manager for Kobrand Corporation and consulting contributor to the staff.

1. How did you get into the wine business?

I was voluntarily helping the sommelier at Lespinasse Restaurant, one of the best restaurants in the country at that time. When the somm left, the chef asked me to take over the program. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. Little did I know where it would lead.

2. What are the most frustrating and rewarding parts of your job?

There are two things that are very rewarding to me in my current position. The first thing is working with a great team. It’s so important to enjoy going to work and have people you can lean on when times are bad and share the fun when things are going well. The second part is when you are able to connect a retailer/buyer to a property. When you are able to show them what the winery is all about and the buyer “gets” it.

3. What is your most memorable wine experience?

I have been very fortunate and have experienced many great moments throughout my career. One of these moments was visiting the old cellar at Louis Jadot, 18-19 years ago. There were about 15 of us from all over the country. Pierre Henry Gagey was very generous and said to us, “Please choose any two bottles of wine,” in that cellar to drink for dinner that night. As a group, we chose an 1893 Le Montrachet and a bottle of 1865 La Romanee. The wines were glorious and the moment shared with wine friends unforgettable.

4. What is an upcoming trend you see in wine?

I think people are leaning toward convenience. I think things like half bottles, wine in a can (a six pack for your boat or the park?), non-traditional packaging and sizes will be revisited.

5. What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?

Listening is a lost art. Listen to what your customer wants, it goes a long way in establishing a relationship.

6. What is one tip you have for someone just getting into wine?

Don’t be in the wine business because of the “glamour.” It is hard work and long hours. You want to be in the business because you want to learn about the people who make wine and the people who are working with wine. Every wine you see has a story, learn it.

Sommelier and wine expert Bernie Sun

Bernie Sun

Luxury Accounts Manager,

Kobrand Corp

"Every wine you see has a story, learn it."

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