Summit Right Brain: Master sommelier Sean Razee brings expertise to Breckenridge Wine Classic
IF YOU GO
What: Breckenridge Wine Classic
When: Sept. 15–18
Where: Various Breckenridge locations
Cost: Tickets vary in price for each event; go to breckenridgewineclassic.com
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When Sean Razee first took on the newly formed role of beverage director for Vail Resorts’ Mountain Dining Division in November 2013, he brought with him more than 25 years of experience in the restaurant industry, as well a prestigious certification in the wine industry. As one of currently only 147 master sommeliers — according to the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas — he earned the certification in 2008, at the time becoming the 99th master sommelier in the U.S.
With a degree in food science and a passion for wine, Razee worked as a wine buyer and seller for 15 years, and has designed and consulted numerous award-winning wine programs at Vail Resorts as well as Spago and The Ritz-Carlton.
“My degree in food science laid the foundation for understanding many aspects of the winemaking process and science behind wine,” Razee said.
At the inaugural Breckenridge Wine Classic next week, Razee will be involved in the Sevens restaurant “Farm to Mountain Wine Dinner” and the “Savor the Single Track” lunchtime ride and tasting. A Colorado wine festival, the event takes place in Breckenridge Sept. 15–18, and offers numerous tasting, educational and outdoor events with wine experts like Razee. Five percent of all Grand Tasting ticket sales and all proceeds from Friday’s Wine on the Mountain Kickoff auction will benefit the National Repertory Orchestra (NRO). Many NRO musicians will be playing at multiple Wine Classic events. For tickets and more information, go to breckenridgewineclassic.com.
Summit Daily News: How did you first become interested in pursuing a career as a sommelier?
Sean Razee: My interest in wine developed in college. Just like Miles and Jack in the movie “Sideways,” my friends and I would drive up to the Santa Barbara wine country for weekend excursions. We had no idea what we were drinking, but we did know that we loved the wine country experience. A few years later I took an introspective approach to my future and determined that the one particular thing I loved reading about and which formed the basis of my travels was the world of wine. At that moment, I decided to be a sommelier.
SDN: What wine region are you most interested in and why?
SR: The Loire Valley of France is very intriguing to me at the moment. The region produces many styles of wines ranging from mineral-laced sauvignon blancs to earthy and black-fruited cabernet francs to luscious honey-scented chenin blanc dessert wines — among many other styles.
SDN: What kinds of things do you get to do in your role as beverage director for Vail Resorts?
SR: One of the most interesting components of my job is to visit all our resorts across the United States to share ideas and best practices. Our company is extremely diverse and being able to experience all the incredible locations and concepts is extremely rewarding. And then, of course, there’s the need to constantly taste wines to create exceptional wine lists.
SDN: What will be the highlights of the Sevens restaurant Farm to Mountain Wine Dinner?
SR: I’m extremely impressed by the menu that Chef Douglas Hudson has crafted for the Farm to Mountain Dinner. There is an intuitive sense that some chefs have to create menus that work seamlessly with wine pairings. Myself and fellow master sommelier Damon Ornowski have selected and will present wines that offer some familiarity with a couple selections that are likely to be new to many guests. It’s going to be very fun.
SDN: What are a few of the main things you take into account when pairing food and wine?
SR: Most of the time, I try not to over-think food and wine pairings. If a dish has a balance of primary tastes — sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami — then several wines will pair quite well with the dish regardless of the major components of the plate. My primary focus is generally to select a wine that matches the intensity of flavors in the dish.
SDN: What advice would you give to the average person when it comes to pairing food and wine?
SR: Don’t over think it. Experiment. Try new wines. Open two different styles of wine and try them both with the same dish.
SDN: What will be the highlight of the Savor the Singletrack event?
SR: Fall in the mountains, cycling, wine and great food are pretty much all my favorite things. The Savor the Singletrack event combines all of these. This will be a great, casual affair with nothing but fun being the ultimate goal.
SDN: What are you most looking forward to with all of the Breckenridge Wine Classic events?
SR: The Breckenridge Wine Classic is the only mountain wine event happening this time of year. Fall mountain weather is exceptional, the trees are incredibly beautiful, and Breckenridge is one of the coolest mountain towns in the state. This is a wine event that offers numerous outdoor opportunities infused with some really great wine seminars and wine producers — I can’t wait.
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