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In the bar, a man in a blue suit trying to open a wine bottle.

Meet Master Sommelier Josh Nadel

Josh Nadel, the beverage director at Café Carmellini in NoMad NYC, was first drawn to wine as a young man working alongside his father as a cater waiter in Borscht Belt resorts, (“like in the movie, Dirty Dancing,” Josh laughs) “I noticed how wine had this unique power to extend evenings and build friendships,” he says.

Later, while earning his B.F.A. in Printmaking from SUNY Purchase, he had the opportunity to study in Florence, Italy, and learn the difference between the convivially good $5 Chiantis he was drinking with his friends and the exceptional wines produced throughout Europe. “I fell in love with how history, culture, taste, smell, travel and art all overlap in wine.”

His passion for wine was like a runaway train. One that took him from being named sommelier at Veritas in New York City — then known for having one of the best wine programs in the country — at the prodigious age of 25, to eventually becoming a master sommelier — a distinction held by fewer than 300 people in the world. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas.

Curating Café Carmellini’s Wine Program

Josh has collaborated with Chef Andrew Carmellini since the opening of Locanda Verde in 2009 and has a singular talent for harmonizing his cuisine with the world’s finest wines. 

As they amassed their collection of close to 2,000 wines for Café Carmellini, Josh was intentional about including comprehensive selections from particular regions and wineries, but also bottles that could be enjoyed casually. “It’s important to me to not only have those kinds of historical collectible references, but also wines that are accessible. It represents more of a progressive take to include wines for drinking on a more regular basis, that might not carry the price tag of some of the finer, rarer stuff.”

Josh, Chef Carmellini, and their team, traveled throughout the wine regions of France and Italy, including Piedmont, Josh’s favorite wine region in the world. “We ate in some magnificent restaurants, we made friends, we visited old friends. But for me, what really resonated was the overlap of the food and wine together.” 

As Chef Carmellini searched for the “platonic ideal: the chickeniest chicken or the briniest cuttlefish,” Josh sought wines with the flavor profile to complement the wild, savory elements of each dish. “There are things on Café Carmellini’s menu that were inspired by the dishes and wines that resonated most with us.”

Pairing the Perfect Wine with Dinner

With a wine list that includes bottles from most of Europe, as well as North America, across a range of vintages and price points, Josh understands that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. “When you come to Café Carmellini, we want you to have a magnificent time with the wine and share it with your friends, and not feel like it’s inaccessible.”

For example, he loves to suggest pairing Greek white wine, made with the Assyrtiko grape, with some of Café Carmellini’s signature seafood dishes. “We have one by the glass made by one of the great winemakers of Greece. It’s called Domaine Sigalas, and we’re really proud to feature it.”

What Josh Drinks

Josh says that if he could only drink one wine for the rest of his life, it would be a Barolo or Barbaresco. “But there’s also a lot of fantastic stuff happening in Piedmont with lesser known grapes, like Ruché and Freisa. They are often very approachable in their youth and are quite a bit more modest than some of the great Barolos and Barbarescos.”

He also loves to drink Northern Rhône reds from Côte-Rôtie, “I just think they are some of the most beautiful, aromatic and seductive red wines in the world.” 

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