Insight from Wine Director Ben Teig on the Redbird Wine List and More
Every glass and bottle of wine on the Redbird menu is hand-selected by Wine Director, Ben Teig. Ben has curated a list that is both vibrant and eclectic, paralleling Chef Neal’s Modern American cuisine with multicultural influences. His award winning wine list has been selected as Wine Enthusiast’s “America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants,” since 2015 and recognized as Wine Spectator’s “Best Award of Excellence,” in 2016 and 2017.
Below Ben shares further insight about building the Redbird wine list, his favorite Los Angeles wine shops and what an average day looks (and tastes) like.
Where the passion for wine began…
My family members weren’t really big drinkers when I was growing up. My father drank beer, but that was it. My passion for wine began when I was older. I was working as a server at a luxury hotel and had a small amount of wine knowledge from previous jobs. As a server at this hotel, customers were asking me more questions about the wines we carried than any other job I had previously. We had a property sommelier and I asked him how I could learn more about wine. He recommended a book called The Wine Bible. I devoured this book. I couldn’t put it down. I would read about an area and then go out and buy wines from that area to help understand what they were talking about. It was all so fascinating to me. Two weeks later I told him I finished the book and that I needed more. It is a huge book, so he was shocked to say the least. He recommended a few other books for me to read and from that moment on I never looked back.
The average day.
That is tough to say, each day is so different. On days that I have tasting appointments I will taste at least 20 to 40 different wines.
Red or white? Or orange?
Sparkling! I love sparkling wine.
When I’m not drinking wine, I’m drinking…
Water! It’s actually very important to me to drink water while I am working as I am running around getting dehydrated. As for alcoholic libations, I can always go for a nice cold beer at the end of a day.
My favorite pairing on the menu.
Mencia and the Braised Goat Gemelli. The spice notes of the Goat and the Mencia are hauntingly good together.
Recommended Wine Shops in Los Angeles.
I really love Lou’s Wine Shop in Los Feliz. They have great selections and pricing. Also, John and Pete’s on La Cienega. You can find some real gems there at amazing prices if you dig properly.
Wine traditions worth breaking.
Sparkling wine only for celebratory occasions or clubs. Yes, I know I sound redundant here with the sparkling wine, but sparkling wine really can go with an entire meal. There are very few dishes that bubbles do not go with. I dare anyone to try it out! Unless you are doing a brut champagne with wedding cake, then it needs to be sweeter than the cake.
Further insight into the Redbird wine list…
My goal is for the guest to have a good time. That is why we are in this business. I like for everyone to be comfortable buying a bottle of wine on the list. Yes, I have wines that are higher priced, but I also have a great selection of wines that range anywhere from $30 to $60.
When I’m not working away, I’m…
Enjoying trips to wine areas both locally and abroad. I am always trying to learn more about wine so I can bring new and exciting selections to our guests. Otherwise, I’m a big sports fan and I love going to games.