I spend quite a bit of time in Reno, and one of my favorite restaurants there has also become my favorite post-work wine stop. Bistro Napa at the Atlantis casino is phenomenal! The food is delicious and fresh and interesting. But better than that is the wine! Or maybe I should be more specific: the staff’s knowledge of the wine, the variety on the wine list, the atmosphere that’s comfortable for lounging or holding a business meeting, and the love for wine that is immediately apparent. And the very best thing about the wine? Sommelier Christian Okuinghttons.
I want to make Christian my wine guru. I could listen to him talk all day about varietals and regions and winemaking styles. He’s the reason I tried malbec – and thank you, Christian, for that great tip! He will gladly pair a wine with your meal or suggest something new to sample. Christian is undoubtedly one of the hotel’s secret weapons, but I found out last night that he’s not the only one the hotel should be proud of.
Last night I met a friend at Bistro Napa for a pre-dinner glass of vino, and I was disappointed to not see Christian mingling among the diners. Hmmm, guess he had the night off. I didn’t give much thought to the bartender as I perused the wine list. I spotted a red blend I’ve never heard of before, but from a winery I know I like. I ordered the Turnbull “Old Bull” blend and remarked that I’d like to know why it was listed in a special section of “Wines for a 21st Century Palate.” What does that even mean?
That bartender, Stephen, immediately launched into a comparison of Old World and New World wines, and what a “21st Century Palate” means to Sommelier Christian and the restaurant. Stephen quickly proved that he was no ordinary bartender, and it sunk in again why I love that restaurant so much. They hire sommelier students like Stephen and put them on the front lines of customer service. He was a wealth of knowledge and took the time to chat about our selections and the wine list in general. Tip: Take the time to ask questions about your wine, you’ll enjoy it so much more!
The Old Bull was fantastic, by the way. It’s a blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, sangiovese, syrah, petite sirah, and merlot. It was so smooth with bold, ripe fruit and not a hint of heaviness. I didn’t take note of the year, but the grapes varied just a bit from the 2009 Old Bull that I found online.
The night became a complete success when my friend and I entered the Atlantis Steakhouse and were greeted by Christian! He was working in the steakhouse that night rather than Bistro Napa. All is well that ends well, and the night always ends well when Christian is selecting your wine. Cheers!