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Whiz Kid


Benjamin Meyer, Sommelier at Whist in the Viceroy Santa Monica hotel

At 25 years old, Benjamin Meyer is truly one of the faces to know in the industry, a Sommelier at one of the west side’s most volume-selling, wine-oriented restaurants – WHIST, at Santa Monica’s Viceroy Hotel.
Originally from Chicago, Meyer sold his small importing and consulting company (“I found the wine world easier to navigate as a buyer,” he told Patterson’s) to head out west.
During his foray at the Dolce Group’s celebrity-packed Geisha House, Meyer didn’t mind hand-selling sake, but his time to spread his wings has arrived at Whist, where he has gallantly – with the respect of his F&B Director Gil Solis – increased wine sales by more than 100 percent in five months.
His new list was released in July 2006 and he modestly noted, “It’s really quite simple. Chef Warren Schwartz and I look to the flavors generated by protein dishes, and find the right wine with well balanced acid and structure that pairs well with our cuisine.”
His wine list is inviting, and starting with its Contents page, divides the character of the selections through thought-provoking themes such as “Italian Treasures,” “Aromatic Whites” or even “Earthy, Spice & Fire” for European reds such as Grenache, Syrah or Tempranillos.
A Pinot-phile at heart, Meyer flirts with 27 domestic offerings and 13 Burgundian reds. He just added Brassfield Estate’s limited production High Valley appellation Pinot Noir to his by-the-glass list.
Passion is infectious, and Meyer plays favorites with cool weather Syrahs and semi-dry Chenin Blancs.
Demanding professionalism from his servers, and gaining their full attention and respect, Meyer ensures wine education for every shift, including fact sheets, tasting notes and maps to study regions.
His ultimate goal? “To be a winemaker,” he smiled, adding, “And I think Washington State is the place for my ideal site.” Once again, he dreams up visions of intense and lush Syrah and charmingly layered fruit-and-steel Chenin Blanc.
Keep watch on Benjamin Meyer: his dreams are sure to come true.

SIDEBAR
Whistle Stop at Whist: Brassfield Merlot
“This is luxurious,” said Benjamin Meyer of the 2003 Brassfield Estate High Serenity Ranch, High Valley appellation Merlot, which he recently added to the wine list, in support of this up-and-coming growing region, about 70 miles north of Napa. “Merlot, in its ripe, elegant and fruity form such as this, is a prized entity.”