Thatcher Baker Briggs has dealt with more revered wines in his young career than most industry types do in a lifetime. The 29-year-old consultant and sommelier sources some of the most coveted wines in the world for collectors all over.
Based in San Francisco, Briggs got his start in wine through restaurants. He did time at some great ones, like Saison in the Bay Area and Takazawa in Tokyo. Along the way, he sharpened his palate, tried some amazing wines, and developed relationships with lauded producers. It was the makings of his current venture, which involves highly curated wine wisdom and sourcing as well as an online shop of his own rare finds, which he launched over the summer.
His restaurant era set him up for success today. Briggs says it was a combination of exposure to extensive wine lists and learning the human aspect inherent to hospitality. “A lot of what happens in restaurants is also similar to what we do now,” he says. “When you cook, you often learn how to multitask and be quite focused on the things that need to be handled quickly. Working in fine dining and having an understanding of service and hospitality is make or break in this business.”
Selecting wines for somebody is about as subjective as things come and Briggs gets the importance of real connection, something he absorbed on restaurant floors. “We are such a niche service that understanding of what clients want is incredibly important,” he adds.
Like too many other industries, wine has a history of not being the most welcoming and inclusive. It remains mostly run by older white males, although it is evolving. Briggs doesn’t dwell on the subject, noting that somebody has to be the first one through the door. He thinks we should step back and question the entire scenario.
“There has been a lot of press on how the wine world isn’t diverse,” he says. “I think rather than focusing on how there is a lack, perhaps we should be asking ourselves why that is the situation. For me, I have been far too worried about living up to my own standards to worry about if someone feels that when they first look at me, if they feel I am capable of doing my job.”
It’s fair to say Briggs doesn’t carry himself like a lot of twenty-somethings. He displays a maturity earned from an early start in the business. Being the youngest person in the room is often a challenge, “But I started in restaurants at 13 and it’s how I have lived my whole life,” he says. Briggs adds that he was at a dinner recently and somebody at the table tried — and failed — to point out his inabilities on account of his age.
“I laughed after and decided to read even more about the particular subject that was being debated,” Briggs says. “I tend to focus on goals rather than people’s tones.”
Wine is steeped in tradition but it’s not above progress. Younger people are entering the scene as younger consumers are flocking to wine. Briggs thinks the efficiencies of today’s world naturally breed younger, more capable people, no matter the industry. It might be more obvious in wine because the realm has simply been pretty stale for quite a while.
“I think that we are in such a big window of change,” he says. “The world of wine — which has been a rather dull, quiet, and outdated world — is gaining spice! It is not just a group of ten guys in the room talking about how big their … wine collection is. It is a connected community of men and women who are passionate about who is making the wine, and where it is from, and the intricacies of winemaking or the environment.”
Industry types are increasingly asking questions about the structure and nature of the wine world. Briggs sees the same curiosity among collectors, which he finds thrilling. “I am excited for all the young people to take a chance and push the limits,” he says. “If it is building a retail platform that is very niche, or reviewers taking the time to taste with young winemakers and bring them to everyone’s attention, or collectors wanting to not collect just what is known but who are looking for the next big thing. It is an exciting time in wine!”
The truth about cooking with wine — everything you need to know
Confused about how to cook with wine? We've got you covered.
We've all seen them. Those stale, falsely rustic home decor signs that boast tired sayings like, "I love cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food!" or "Drink wine. It isn't good to keep things bottled up." The chortles these decor pieces get, however frequently they can be found at discount retailers, are never in short supply. People love to boast their love for wine, and if we're totally honest, we're no exception. We love a good bottle both for its drinkability and its generosity in flavoring a dish. But when it comes to using this sacred nectar in the cooking process, things can sometimes become a bit confusing. So we're here to answer all of those burning questions you may have when it comes to cooking with wine.
Why cook with wine?
Apart from its obvious sexiness, there are lots of other reasons to uncork a bottle when whipping up a delicious meal. In addition to the bold, unique, rich flavor wine adds to a dish, its acidity can also help to tenderize meat, poultry, and seafood. Depending on the wine used and the dish being prepared, as the alcohol burns off, the complexity and flavor of the wine will concentrate, making for an extremely flavorful dish.
Need a little more confidence when it comes to ordering wine? We've got some pro tips to share.
When a wine list the size of an encyclopedia is dropped on your table, it's easy to be intimidated. Ordering wine should be an enjoyable adventure, not a daunting task. To make sure of that, we reached out to an industry pro for some sage advice.
Our wine expert revealed some great tips for navigating wine lists, ordering something you'll actually like, and not breaking the bank in the process. Next time you're at a restaurant or wandering through a bottle shop, you'll know just what to do. Better, you may even discover a new favorite winemaker or varietal. Read on for excellent tips on how to order wine.
Experience summer the right way with organic, travel-friendly wines from Besa mi Vino
Summer's sunshine, fresh air, and blue skies have one undeniable effect on everyone: it brings us outside. Summer is, after all, a season of the great al fresco. When dining and drinking outdoors, a sophisticated brand of canned wine is almost essential. Besa mi Vino, a Santa Monica-based company founded by brothers Michael and Roddy Radnia, brings more than a dash of fun to the world of environmentally conscious organic wine. Grab a can and come with us as we explore the Besa mi Vino-verse.
Canned wine is one of those products that has undergone a complete makeover in the last twenty years. Nowadays, it's easy to see that the benefits of canned wine over glass bottles are enormous. It's fairly obvious that cans are lighter, more compact, and simpler to open than a traditional glass bottle. They're also easier to drink out of than bottles, but what happens in Vegas...
These factors all come into play for those taking their drinks outside, but there are environmental benefits to staying home with them too. Single-serve cans have a smaller carbon footprint than glass bottles and are easier to recycle. Besa mi Vino wines are Sustainable in practice and "SIP" certified, in addition to skipping animal by-products, gluten, added sugar, and pesticides. Besa mi Vino is also low in sulfites and crafted sustainably in Paso Robles, California.