Charles Ford | The Bristol

5 questions with Sommelier Charles Ford

My name is Charles Ford; I am the Sommelier and Assistant General Manager at The Bristol Chicago on Damen and Webster Avenue.

Q1: What led you to the wine industry?

What led me to the wine industry is the fact that I knew nothing about it when I started working for Dave Johnston, and he challenged me really to learn everything about wine and everything that pertained to it. The more I drank wine the more I liked wine, much more so than liquor or beer or anything else that you can become intoxicated from, because first and foremost it didn’t intoxicate you that quickly and that was very enjoyable. It tasted very, very good. The more I drank after that, the more I became intrigued.

Q2: Can you explain the somm-chef relationship, and the importance?

The somm-chef relationship is a love hate relationship. It’s either a brother-brother, brother-sister relationship or sometimes it can be a mom-dad or a dad-son, or whatever it is! But, at the end of the day I love my Chef in the kitchen, he does a fantastic job with the food, and it’s my job to compliment whatever it is that he has to offer, not the other way around. So long as you remember that it’s the Chef’s creativity that you have to get along with, you’re in good hands.

Q3: What did you drink last night and why?

I drank absinthe last night because it was a long weekend. I know you were expecting wine but I drank absinthe last night because it was a long weekend, and I love the flavor and absinthe is something that I can take a long, long time to drink just a little bit of. My girlfriend drank Pinot Noir so she did the wine thing, but the absinthe took the edge off real quick, and I slept very well last night. (Yesterday was Sunday by the way, so that’s why. It wasn’t like a Monday or Tuesday, it was Sunday so just understand that)

Q4: If you could have a glass of wine with anyone dead or alive, who would it be, what would you pour for them and why?

I would have it with all of my dead relatives, absolutely. I would pour heavily because I hadn’t seen them in a long time. They don’t know a lot about wine so it would be something very simple, even if it was a boxed wine, if they recommended it that would be fine. I think wine is what brings people together, and wine is a drink of pleasure and love and family, so that’s the 1st thing that comes to mind when I think of drinking wine with anyone else. Of course my living relatives could come too. But mostly the dead ones I’d want to talk to.

Q5: Food and wine pairing not to be missed on your menu right now?

We have an outstanding Sauvignon Blanc on our list by François et Xavier called Barc from Touraine, the quality is outstanding and that would go great with our spring tartine which is toast, goat cheese and different sort of vegetables on there. It’s a what grows together goes together kind of thing. It’s absolutely delicious and you shouldn’t miss it.

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