There are197 people in the world who can call themselves Master Sommeliers, and Dallas now has three: James Tidwell of the Four Seasons; Barbara Werley at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse; and our newest Master Som, Melissa Monosoff, who moved to Dallas seven months ago to join the staff at Pioneer Wine Company as director of wine and education.
Monosoff makes her official local debut on Monday, October 29, at FT33, where she'll kick off the Master Sommelier Wine Dinner Series, pairing a menu devised by chef Matt McCallister with her own menu of wines.
The Master Sommelier program was established to elevate the standards of beverage knowledge at hotels and restaurants. Achieving the title of means that you've enrolled in a four-part program of classes and passed a difficult series of tests.
Monosoff's philosophy is "for people to enjoy the wine and food as one," and she is excited about the challenge of Matt McCallister's "fantastic flavors."
Monosoff had already graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and started out her food and beverage career as a chef.
"I was in the kitchen at my first job at the Striped Bass, but I had a passion for wine and was encouraged by the sommelier there," Monosoff says. "I had to learn about service and the front of the house."
She was a sommelier at the Fountain Restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel and Savona Restaurant, experience that serves her well at Pioneer, the third-largest distributor of wine in Texas. She not only makes decisions about what wine the company should carry, but she also educates the staff, oversees public events, and teaches wine classes — basic to advanced — geared to those with a passion for wine knowledge.
In addition to wine, Monosoff is a self-proclaimed "beer nut." Beer is her second true passion; her favorites are a couple of options from the Russian River Brewing Company out of California.
Her dinner at FT33 will pair the food with wines from around the world. Her philosophy is "for people to enjoy the wine and food as one," and she is excited about the challenge of McCallister's "fantastic flavors."
"He has so many different flavors on the plate that finding a wine to match is not an easy thing," she says. "It could go in so many different directions.
"I'm going for wines that people might not normally venture to, like a German Riesling or a Greek white. He's doing a course with fresh shucked oysters, and I've chosen a mineral-driven white wine by Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko, from Greece."
Other courses include a caramelized onion tart with "caraway soil" that she pairs with Riesling; a duck confit paired with a Chardonnay from the Sonoma coast; and short ribs paired with a Carmenere blend from Chile's Colchagua Valley.
One of the funniest things about moving to Dallas is that Monosoff has been forced to defend her allegiance to her sports team. She's a devoted fan of the Philadelphia Eagles.
"When my friends from Philadelphia found out I was moving to Dallas, they didn't say, 'We're going to miss you,'" she says. "The first thing out of their mouths was, 'You're not going to become a Cowboys fan, are you?' I can’t tell you how many times I got asked that question."