Best Sommeliers In Seattle

October 31, 2012 6:00 AM

(credit: Thinkstock)

winebar Best Sommeliers In Seattle

(credit: Thinkstock)

A sommelier orders and maintains a restaurant’s wine list, he or she is trained in pairing each flavor expressed in a given wine with just the right meal. Through extensive training, studying and oftentimes shadowing the professionals, these area professionals learned wine from grape to glass for your dining pleasure. These are the best sommeliers in Seattle.

Thomas Price
Metropolitan Grill
820 Second Ave.
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 624-3287

As of May 2012, Seattle got its fifth master sommelier in Thomas Price of the Metropolitan Grill restaurant. Price has worked in the hospitality industry since age 14, when he began as a dishwasher in Alaska. He moved up the hospitality ladder, next working as a bartender and server in his early 20s. It was at this time that he found his passion for wine. Price came to the Seattle area in 1988 and worked for a number of restaurants, and even owned his own restaurant with his wife. He began his work with the Metropolitan Grill in 2004 and over the years, earned the head sommelier spot with Metropolitan Grill in 2008.

Related: Guide to Wine Events in October

Nelson Daquip
Canlis Restaurant
2576 Aurora Ave. N
Seattle WA, 98109
(206) 283-3313

Nelson Daquip, wine director and sommelier at Seattle’s Canlis Restaurant, was quickly promoted for his accomplishments. Daquip began at Canlis as a server assistant in 2002 and became the wine director in 2006. That same year, he was also named by Wine and Spirits Magazine as one of the best new sommeliers. In 2008, Seattle Magazine gave him the honor of best sommelier. He said he originally wanted to be a chef, but eventually was drawn to wine. According to Daquip, “Wine felt like a challenge, and I wanted to understand it more so I could cook better. The more I learned, the more I realized I wanted to focus on it. I started taking classes, learning, and decided to move to Washington State. I never went back to the kitchen.” He is currently working toward his master sommelier certification.

Tim O’Brien
Salty’s on Alki
1936 Harbor Ave. SW
Seattle, WA 98126
(206) 937-1600

Tim O’Brien is a distinguished wine director and sommelier for Salty’s on Alki Beach. He has been named Washington’s sommelier of the year, as well as earned several Wine Enthusiast awards throughout his career. Thanks to O’Brien’s extensive experience and wine-related accomplishments, Salty’s has received acknowledgements from the Washington Wine Commission, The Wine Spectator and The Wine Enthusiast Magazine on more than one occasion.

Related: Guide to Crush Events at Washington Wineries

James Lechner
Affiliation: Wine Director, Sommelier
Bastille Cafe and Bar
5307 Ballard Ave. NW.
Seattle, WA 98107
(206) 453-5014

As the current wine director and sommelier for Seattle’s Bastille Cafe and Bar, James Lechner has been in the restaurant industry for more than 15 years. He studied wine through the International Sommelier Guild and Court of Master Sommeliers. In addition to working at the Bastille, Lechner is also a partner for his business Elevage Wine, co-founded with fellow sommelier, Chris Tanghe. Lechner said he thoroughly enjoys providing wine recommendations to patrons. He says, “In most cases, it is like being the friendly local who helps the tourist find the true heart of the locale. Tasting wine is even more like a party, but drinking wine after work at someone else’s restaurant is most like a party.”

Chris Tanghe
Affiliation: Sommelier and Wine Team
RN74 Seattle
1433 Fourth Ave. at Pike St.
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 456-7474

Another rising sommelier in the Northwest, Chris Tanghe obtained his certification when he was only 21. He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and works at the RN74 Restaurant as a sommelier. Tanghe, along with Lechner and Price, was one of three top-ranked Seattle sommelier’s who were competing in the 2012 Guild of Sommeliers TOP SOMM competition. In addition to working for Michael Mina’s wine team at RN74, Tanghe is a partner at Elevage Wine with James Lechner.

Sue Gabel has been writing entertainment and travel-related articles in the greater Puget Sound/Seattle area since 1999. She writes about music, the Seattle scene and more. Her work can be found on

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