MGM Sommelier oversees 350,000 bottles of wine on the Vegas Strip | Nevada News
By BRYAN HORWARTH, Las Vegas Sun
LAS VEGAS (AP) – When he started working at the Culinary Institute of America in 2004, Douglas Kim had every intention of becoming a chef.
This was before he discovered how fascinating studying wine can be thanks to a compulsory three-week course that set his career on a new trajectory.
MGM Resorts International recently announced the promotion of Kim, a master sommelier, to the role of wine manager for its Las Vegas resorts.
Kim, a South Korean native who grew up in Chicago, now oversees nearly 50 sommeliers and around 350,000 bottles of wine at MGM bars and restaurants along the Strip.
âAt first I thought cooking would be really fun,â Kim said. âAfter taking this course, I started to think wine would be more fun than cooking, so this is the path I took. There is so much to wine – history, geography, so many great stories.
After graduating from the institute in Hyde Park, New York, Kim wanted to get her bachelor’s degree and decided to move to Las Vegas to study at UNLV.
âFor any food and beverage professional, Las Vegas is one of the best places to learn about food and wine very quickly,â Kim said. “We see crazy bottles opened every night and cheap bottles opened every night.”
The most expensive bottle of wine a guest can order at an MGM property on the Strip is a top-notch French pinot noir that costs around $ 70,000, Kim said.
âThe prices can get pretty crazy,â Kim said. “You kind of think, ‘Okay, how much is that per sip? A good bottle of wine, you can go into the descriptors, but it’s really more about the overall experience.
It’s not every day that a guest pays so much for a bottle of wine, but bottles that range from $ 10,000 to $ 20,000 are sold on the Strip “fairly regularly,” he said.
Kim is one of less than 200 master sommeliers in North and South America nominated by an organization called the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Kim earned the title in 2018 after going through a process that took about a decade and included several reviews.
âIt’s a pretty intense process,â Kim said. âIt’s a full-time job when you do it. There are a lot of great summits that don’t have this certification, so it’s not all. It’s a way of showing a guest that you are an expert in the field.
Kim began her professional culinary career in Las Vegas at Restaurant Charlie before becoming Wine Manager at Picasso Restaurant at Bellagio and Sommelier at Mandalay Bay.
Dominique Bertolone, senior vice president of food and beverage strategy for MGM Resorts, said the company was lucky to have Kim.
âDouglas has been a first-class hospitality professional throughout his career,â said Bertolone. âHis customer-centric approach and his willingness to always go above and beyond to create memorable moments are the key to his success. “
A typical day for Kim includes coordinating with wine vendors and vendors as he works to create and maintain wine programs for establishments at 13 MGM resorts and hotels on the Strip.
âThere’s a lot of administrative stuff to do, so it’s not always glamorous,â Kim said. âI send a lot of emails every day. Ultimately, I like to go to the different restaurants themselves and talk to the sommeliers to see what they need and how I can best help them. My job is different every day.
He said his favorite part of the job is putting a new wine on a restaurant’s list. âI like to say that I don’t have a personal wine cellar, I have MGM as a wine cellar,â he said.
Kim said he liked a good glass of wine but didn’t have a favorite. In fact, if he has a drink at home, it’s often a bourbon on the rocks or a Japanese beer, he says.
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