Moez Ben Achour started at Marcel’s in 1999 as a food runner and worked his way up to become head of its wine program eight years ago.
It was the combination of being given the opportunity to directly visit vineyards around the world and becoming a certified sommelier that really took my wine experience to the next level. I have been fortunate enough to travel all over Europe as well as to Oregon and Napa Valley during different seasons. I have met winemakers, seen their cellars and facilities, examined the soil, and been directed through all the possible weather scenarios that can affect a wine and its price, for good or for worse. It helps you not only to understand what to buy and what pairs best with which dish, but it’s an incredible tool for our winesavvy guests.
Given the technology and the way the wine industry has evolved, we have to be very smart customers. Guests go to classes and study up before they dine— nothing slips by them! So it is my pleasure to be able to make connections atthe table between the wines they order or bring in and the places to which I have been. I had a guest who brought in a bottle of Sine Qua Non, a wine from Napa Valley. After showing it to his guests, he asked me what I knew about it, and I was able to tell him all about the owner, who is also the artist behind each wine label. He was both surprised and impressed because this is a smallproduction wine. I have also had the opportunity to go to Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy, where each November the Hospices de Beaune wine auction is held to benefit the local hospital.
I have been able to tell guests who have acquired great vintage wines from the area through collectors about my experiences there, barrel tasting in the cellars. I had a gentleman who heads to Beaune every year, and being able to chat with him about the auction was great: we were speaking the same language. The point being, you have to embrace your knowledge so that it comes off as confident, and never arrogant. That’s what Marcel’s is based on—a foundation of great service and putting yourself in other people’s shoes.