Bibliophile – Heart and Soul February 23, 2019
Well, then it’s time to meet Derrick Westbrook, sommelier and service manager recently named Wine Enthusiast Top 40 Under 40 Tastemakers. ♪>>I thought I was gonna go into law or eventually own my own nonprofit. I knew what I was gonna do. But this little thing called “wine” entered the — entered the scene, and, well, I’m here now. [ Laughs ]>>Until recently, Derrick Westbrook worked here at Bibliophile, a Hyde Park restaurant in a community where curiosity is king, and that gave Westbrook the freedom to be creative.>>That gives me the liberty to build a wine list where there are no Pinot Noirs. There’s no Chardonnays. There’s no Cabernets. There’s no merlots.>>I love that he wants you to know the rules to wine but he doesn’t care if you break ’em.>>Derrick was born and raised in Nashville. He earned a degree in English and sociology at the University of Alabama — Birmingham, where he also developed a taste for wine. The turning point in his career? Becoming a food runner, then cellar manager at Alinea Group’s Next.>>And I would have to set up for the distributor tastings, and I remember not being able to pick wines or even give suggestions. It was all about just tasting and listening, tasting and listening. That’s where I kind of honed my skills.>>Derrick presents wine, and he does it authentically. He’s like, “I love wine, I love this business, and I just want people to love wine the way that I love wine.”>>The Garnacha has a little spice, a little weight, a little tang, and it has a beautiful red color, as you can see here.>>He’s not pretentious about the way that he talks about wine. One thing that he mentions oftentimes in the wine classes that he does over at Madison Vine Wines is, “Is it yummy?”>>Now, the fun thing about being a sommelier is you learn how to swirl wine with both hands. [ Chuckles ] I’m wine-bidextrous, if you will.>>Becoming beverage director at Michelin-starred Elizabeth and opening a wine shop helped Derrick learn the ropes and develop a style all his own.>>Mmm. Whoo! Too good.>>He’s very experienced and cool at what he does, and that relates to me because seeing another person that looks like me doing something in a field like this is really, really dope.>>In this time period of wine right now, we have a lot of Millennials starting to drink wine. I think you need an authoritative figure that can really be cool to the people who are drinking wine, too.>>Derrick is young enough to be a contemporary and experienced enough to be an expert. He sees a future filled with wine.>>My dream is to be able to travel, talk about wine, visit wineries, and make wine-drinking cool and chill. ♪>>Derrick is also behind Samples & Samples, an event at City Winery that pairs music and wine.