Rick Arline became a sommelier through osmosis more than anything else. Working as a bartender for a number of years, he began to pick up notes about wine on the job and soon found himself fascinated by the world of grapes, vines and bottles. Though his interest was initially piqued while slinging drinks at a now-defunct Miami spot called The Forge, Arline spent the bulk of his time working as a sommelier in Los Angeles at places like Hotel Bel-Air, Auburn and Fellow Traveler, and did a stint as the beverage director at Chicago hotspot Girl & the Goat before returning to the West Coast.
As of this year, Arline is the director of wine at Hotel Per La, the property that transformed the former NoMad Hotel space into a lighter, airier and more California-centric take on the gorgeous historic building in downtown L.A. This new iteration includes rooftop joint Bar Clara, the daytime spot Cafe Ora and ground-floor fine dining restaurant Per L’Ora. As the director of wine, Arline touches on all three menus, bringing his own suggestions for rooftop imbibing, daytime drinks and, of course, what pairs best with chef Courtney Van Dyke’s creations.
“I’m always looking for a mix between playing the hits and finding some new stuff, that’s what keeps it most interesting,” Arline tells InsideHook. “What’s most interesting to me is finding something new, like a new region to champion. I always tell people that I love wines from the old world — I love Italian, French and Spanish wine — but I’ve been increasingly getting into wines from California. I’ve been really enjoying trying wines from the Central Coast and Santa Barbara — that’s really been exciting to me the last couple of years.”
When he isn’t making wine recommendations for guests at the hotel, Arline still cracks open plenty of bottles back home on his own time. This is one of those cases where work following you home can be a good thing. Here are a few great bottles he’s been drinking lately.
“It’s sparkling wine, and it’s from Spain, but it’s not cava. It’s from the place where they make cava, but it’s not called cava anymore. De Nit is their rosé, and it’s vintage dated sparkling wine from Josep Raventós’s family, a sixth-generation winemaking family. They make some of the best sparkling wines — period — in the world. It’s not Champagne, but it’s an excellent wine, biodynamically farmed. It’s a great wine for when I’m done working and I want a glass of something, I’ll drink one of those. I usually have a couple of these bottles open and we’ll have a glass at home. Sparkling wine is good for any time, and if you don’t want to break the bank, these wines are very affordable. They’re just about $20 to $25 a bottle.”
“I’ve been drinking an orange wine by a friend of mine, his name is Scott Sampler, and he makes wines in a range called Scotty-Boy! that’s made at his winery, the Central Coast Group Project. The wine that I’ve been drinking the most recently is called Uno Numero. It’s kind of a funky orange wine, which typically I’m not that into, but the ones that he makes are just so good. It’s got an apricot and lemon skin kind of vibe, it’s awesome with anything seafood-based. Huge fan of those, they’re really delicious.”
“I like Sauvignon Blanc from Napa; I’m definitely in the camp of people that really tends to enjoy it. I think Gamble Family Vineyards makes some of the best Sauvignon Blanc in California, if not the best. They’re just really great people, organically farmed, with an old-school Napa approach. Great wine for just sitting outside here in Los Angeles and drinking wine on the patio.”
“I’ve been enjoying the Canonau. It’s basically a Grenache variant. The winery is called Cardedu. Again, really just a fantastic organic producer from Sardinia. It’s the best thing about proper Italian reds, it has a little bit of tannin, that grapefruit, and it’s just a fantastic wine to sit with and grill something. I like to be outdoors, so I grill a lot. Grilling lamb chops and drinking — that is just my favorite thing to do.”
“Alex is the son of Jean Foillard, who is a legend in Beaujolais; this is the younger son. It’s his third or fourth vintage now. I love Beaujolais because I think it suits the climate here in Los Angeles. It’s warm here, and the last thing I want to drink, a lot of the time, is a very extracted, very ripe, powerful red. That’s something that you need to eat with steak. This is one of those wines you can drink with a burrito or a burger — something more casual. It’s a very serious wine that I think works in a casual environment. And it’s great to bring to parties. I’m a big fan of Alex Foillard, and I’d like to see him get some love out there because his wines are fantastic.”
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