Eric Renaud is a breath of fresh air in the restaurant wine business. Renaud, in this late 30s, is the passionate, intelligent and customer-focused senior sommelier at the legendary Bern's Steak House in Tampa, Fla. Bern’s is renowned for its wine list, which has 6,800 different selections and more than one-half million bottles. Frankly, if more restaurants took Renaud's approach, they'd sell more wine and make more money doing it – and wine drinkers would be better off.
We chatted during a break in judging at the 34th annual International Eastern Wine Competition in Watkins Glen, N.Y. Renaud, as he says, is an example that anyone can learn about wine. He started at Bern's lugging cases and bringing bottles up from the cellar. This perspective has taught him to give customers what they want, and not what he wants to sell them; to help them find value on a restaurant list; and to treat wine as something to be appreciated – and not something to be intimidated by.
The stream or download the podcast, click here. It's about 9 megabytes and 10 minutes long. You’ll even hear some wine judging and glass tinkling going on in the background.