The word sommelier conjures an image of a well-suited gentleman with a stiff upper lip who looks down his nose at you for ordering anything less than a $100 bottle of wine. Sarah Almand, Meat Market's delightfully spirited sommelier, is different.
A Florida native, she was a geography major who traded in her city maps for vineyard tours one summer in France. "I realized that although I enjoyed every drop of wine, I had no basis for comparison and had no idea what I was drinking." Now, almost a decade later, Almand is a "wine buyer," tasting and selecting bottles to fill the list of 400 wines.
As sommelier, her role is to help diners find the best wine for their meal and wallet. "No one is getting suckered into an expensive bottle they don't want," she says. "It's all about the experience, and if they have a bad experience, they won't come back."
So what does this wine goddess drink? "Give me bubbles and a good Pinot Noir and I am a happy woman," she says with a smile.
We asked Armand to put together a quick pairing for some Miami dishes with wines from Meat Market's selection that even Dionysus himself would guzzle. She offers an "easy buy" for when you're chowing down with friends or a "special splurge selection" if you're looking to take it up a notch with your date. (Prices are Meat Market list.)
1. Grilled Florida lobster
El Cheapo's choice: 2008 Qupe, Chardonnay, Santa Maria Valley, California ($60)
Daddy Warbucks in the house: 2008 Alex Gambal, Chassagne-Montrachet, La Maltroie, Burgundy, France ($160)
2. Caja china -- pig roast
El Cheapo's choice: 2009 Bodega Chacra, Barda, Pinot Noir, Rio Negro, Patagonia, Argentine ($70)
Daddy Warbucks in the house: 1999 Borgogno, Barolo Riserva, Piedmont, Italy ($199)
3. Beef empanadas
El Cheapo's choice: 2008 Perez Cruz, Carmenere Reserva, Maipo Valley, Chile ($60)
Daddy Warbucks in the house: 2007 Navarro Correas, Malbec, Structura, Mendoza, Argentina ($115)
4. Key lime pie
El Cheapo's choice: 2006 Royal Tokaj Wine Company, Mad Cuvee, Hungary ($12/glass)
Daddy Warbucks in the house: 2005 Chateau Guiraud, Sauternes, France ($19/glass)
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5. Dulce de leche flan
El Cheapo's choice: 2008 El Maestro, Sherry, Pedro Ximenez grape, Jerez, Spain ($10/glass)
Daddy Warbucks in the house: 1969 D'Oliveira, Sercial, Madeira ($40/glass)
Whatever your poison, be it a $45 bottle of Napa Chardonnay or the 2000 Château Petrus for $4,500, Armand is sure to find something for your glass. All you have to do is ask.