Welcome to Behind the Beverages, a new series in which Eater talks to the sommeliers, cicerones and cocktail mavens around town about how they put together their lists of libations and where else they like to drink in San Diego.
Meet Advanced Sommelier Joshua Orr, the wine director of Marina Kitchen at the San Diego Marriott Marquis, which opened for business a little over eighteen months ago and is playing host to many of the San Diego Bay Wine and Food Fest events. Previously, Orr worked at Fiamma at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
How many total selections are available on Marina Kitchen's wine menu?
Approximately 330 bottles.
What was your approach in crafting the wine menu?
Food compatibility was a given, but we also really wanted to showcase a great range of wines, domestic and import. Featuring contemporary California through the great artisanal wineries was also essential. Creating a unique experience was vital. We integrated keg wines, small batch spirits and local craft beers into the program.
Have you found inspiration for your work in others' wine menus?
I'm a big fan of what Lisa Redwine has done at The Marine Room. Through my travels, I would say A-16 in San Francisco and Terroir in NYC are truly inspirational menus.
Do you think the wine menu reflects anything about you?
I hope so. I love what I do. I really enjoy the process of discovering great wines. Access to high quality wine is more available than ever before. There's so many great wines to try and enjoy and introduce to someone down the road. A large part of Marina Kitchen's wine menu is about encountering great wines you've never had before.
Technically, you're in a downtown hotel. How would you characterize the patrons' reactions to your wine menu? A lot of folks are surprised by the selections. I don't think they expect such a menu at the Marriott. Most of them are really excited to try something new or different. We're not trying to change their wine preferences. We just want to expand the "wine mindset" of the patron in a comfortable way.
Marina Kitchen has a seasonal menu. What was your favorite food and wine pairing?
Chef always has a special seafood selection, and the Cobia this past summer was really amazing. I paired it with the Keller 2011 'Von der Fels' dry riesling. Both the fish and wine dance this fine line of richness and delicacy, and they worked great together.
You're studying to become a Master Sommelier. The exam is next May. What's that like?
I spend a lot of free time studying theory. Flash cards dominate my life right now.
Any parting wine recommendations for home or here at Marina Kitchen?
Zotovich Vineyards Pinot Noir from Santa Rita Hills. Delicious!
· Marina Kitchen [Official Site]