Thursday, May 26, 2011


Hi!  My name is Nick Stengel, and I am coming to the end of the beginning of my quest to become a Master of Wine.  I live in Washington DC with my wife, Wendy and our dog, Puck.  I used to be in governmental affairs, but grew heartsick over the way Washington worked.  So I went to Brasserie Les Halles and begged the chef to teach me how to be a professional cook.

Now I am the chef of Willow Restaurant in Arlington , VA, and I am slowly getting ready for a shift into the wine trade.  I asked a chefly friend of mine what happens to cooks who don't want to open their own restaurant.  "Oh," she said, "you don't want to go $3 million in debt and have 50 people depending on you for their livelyhood?  Well when you get too old to cook and your knees give out, you can be a greeter at Wallmart!"

Hrm.  Not appealing.  Winning Powerball?  The odds are way better that I'll get hit by lightning.

But I do have another interest, wine.  I love it.  I love talking about it, reading, sipping, geeking, everything.  I've got a 500 bottle cellar, friends in the field, and my dog can detect TCA taint!  And so my journey begins.  You, dear reader, are joining me near the end of the beginning.  I recently completed the French Wine Society class and am studying to take the French Wine Scholar exam.  I got my Intermediate Certificate from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust a couple of months ago and am now taking the advanced class at the Capital Wine School  with Jay Youmans, the District's only MW.

In this blog, I hope to recount my quest to be a Master of Wine.  It will take years of tasting notes, photos, ruminations on statistics and economics, travelogs, and of course, many photos of Puck chewing on corks.  Enjoy and please comment often!


  1. Nick,

    What an exciting journey! I look forward to reading your blog. Maybe I can even learn a thing or two from you, as my knowledge of wine is rather pathetic. If you ever decide to do a tour of the vineyards of Scotland, let me know. I would love to show you and Wendy around!

    All the best,

  2. You can add to your credentials helping me change from being strongly anti-wine to wine-curious!