74 minutes | May 8th 2020

IDTT Wine 480: Kevin Zraly Was At the Top of the World and Then Lost Almost Everything

Kevin Zraly is the author of "Kevin Zraly's Windows on the World Complete Wine Course". He is also the co-author (with Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen) of the book "Red Wine: The Comprehensive Guide to the 50 Essential Varieties and Styles". Kevin was for decades the Cellar Master of Windows on the World restaurant, located on the top floors of the North Tower of New York City's original World Trade Center.Kevin describes his entry into the world of restaurants as a college student, and how a series of seemingly chance events led him to study and teach about wine. He recalls trips to California, France, Italy, and Spain to visit wineries, and some of the standout moments in those adventures. Then Kevin talks about his short lived career as a wholesale wine salesman in New York City, and explains how that quickly developed into a job opportunity as the Cellar Master at the brand new Windows on the World restaurant in the late 1970s. His role at Windows brought him into contact with legendary restauranteur Joe Baum, whom Kevin talks about at length.Kevin talks about the philosophy behind the wine program at Windows on the World - from the selection to the pricing to the service style - and recalls a key trip to Bordeaux to source wines there with Alexis Lichine. He also explains how working at Windows led to his book deal, and to more and more teaching opportunities. Kevin became famous as a teacher and speaker about wine, and in this interview he discusses how he approaches speaking to a group about wine. He also recalls the origins of the New York Wine Experience, which he founded.The interview with Kevin goes from highs to lows, as Windows on the World is closed by a bombing in 1993, and then totally destroyed as a result of the 9/11 attacks. Kevin shares the pain he has felt as a result, and gives his rationale for why he might have survived while his co-workers perished. He also talks about how he has coped with the aftermath of those terrible events on a personal level, and some of the challenges that he has faced as a parent.This episode also features commentary from:Martin Sinkoff, Martin Sinkoff Associates
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