It’s fairly well known that you drink white wine with fish and chicken and red wine with steak. When it comes to knowing whether your Chilean sea bass will taste better with a Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc, however, you might consider asking the restaurant’s sommelier. Far from looking down on you for not knowing the answer, sommeliers love the opportunity to help their clients choose a pairing that will enhance both the food and the wine – and Detroit is home to some of the top sommeliers in the country.
Veggies in Plum Market

Veggies in Plum Market

Madeline Triffon
Plum Market
6565 Orchard Lake Road
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
(248) 626-7000

Madeline Triffon is as low key and down to earth as her award-winning wine lists. Primarily self-taught, Triffon began a career in food services as a way to pay for medical school. She landed a job as a wine steward due mostly, she claims, to “a good French accent,” and in 1986 passed the rigorous Master Sommelier exam to become America’s first female Master Sommelier. Triffon was Director of Wine for the Matt Prentice Restaurant Group, during which time her selections won multiple awards including Wine Spectator’s “World’s Best.” In 2011, Triffon left the restaurant group to work with Plum Market, incorporating her knowledge and expertise with her preference for modestly priced quality wines in the stores’ selections and in tasting and educational events. Triffon’s largest contribution to the Detroit wine scene, however, is perhaps her mentoring of most of the top sommeliers in the city today.

Hanger Steak at Roast

Joseph Allerton
1128 Washington Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 961-2500

A relative youngster on the sommelier scene, Joseph Allerton studied under Madeline Triffon during her tenure with the Matt Prentice Restaurant Group. Allerton developed an obsession for learning about wine and a passion for exploring new vintages. His position at Micheal Symon’s Roast allows him the freedom to continue exploring and to introduce the new and unusual to the restaurant’s patrons. “It’s the best of both worlds,” Allerton says, and the patrons agree. In 2012, Hour Detroit magazine readers voted Allerton as Best Sommelier.

Related: Chef Symons Puts Wine List on iPad At Roast

Photo Credit: Thinkstock.com

Michael Descamps
Bourbon Steak and SaltWater
MGM Grand Casino
1777 3rd St.
Detroit, MI 48226
(877) 888-2121

Mentored by Madeline Triffon, Michael Descamps spent five years with the Matt Prentice Restaurant Group learning the sommelier trade. Descamps moved on to Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak and SaltWater restaurants, both in the MGM Grand Casino downtown. In 2012, he won the Guild of Sommeliers’ Midwest Region TOP|SOMM, a competition judged by Master Sommeliers and held under US Court of Master Sommeliers standards. Although the idea of a sommelier competition might seem stuffy, Descamps enjoyed the camaraderie of the event, calling it “intense, but a lot of fun.”

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Ron Edwards
The Rugby Grille
Townsend Hotel
100 Townsend St.
Birmingham, MI 48009
(248) 642-5999

Ron Edwards is as passionate about education as he is about wine. “There’s always something new to learn,” Edwards maintains. Studying under renowned chefs, Edwards’ wine lists have won multiple Wine Spectator’s Awards of Excellence and Best Awards of Excellence. Under Madeline Triffon’s mentorship, he passed the Master Sommelier examination in 2005. Edwards is just as devoted to teaching others what he has learned. In 2008, he collaborated to create the CRUSH Michigan Food and Wine Classic. In 2009, he launched “Wine Talk Radio,” which has since become syndicated across the country. And in 2011, Edwards co-founded The Grapevine School of Wine, a program covering everything from wine basics to on-demand classes for those seeking a specific wine experience. Edwards also consults for individuals and restaurants, such as the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham.

Rattlesnake Club

(credit: rattlesnakeclub.com)

Claudia Tyagi
The Rattlesnake Club
300 River Place Drive
Detroit, MI 48207
(313) 567-4400

Claudia Tyagi grew up in Detroit and is the daughter of a Detroit mounted policeman. She spent seven years as an assistant to Madeline Triffon and in 1997 completed the examination to become a Master Sommelier. As of 2012, there are only 129 Master Sommeliers in North America and only 18 are women. After years of working for restaurants in Detroit, London and Las Vegas, Tyagi became a freelance consultant for the food and wine industry. Today, she creates tastings and events, conducts seminars and consults with restaurants, such as The Rattlesnake Club, to develop their wine lists.

Jennifer Walker is a freelance writer living in Detroit. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in animal science from Michigan State University. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.