Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas, sommelier at Bar Marco, The Wine Room and Livermore, shares her packed (and mouth watering!) itinerary for the week of May 26 in NEXT Up. She says: “I did not realize how awesome this week was going to be till I wrote it all out.”

Tuesday: It’s a day off from the Wine Room, so I usually study in the mornings. I’m trying to take the Advanced Sommelier exam next year, so I try to spend a few hours every week with my flashcards. There’s lots of coffee involved. In the afternoon, I head to the Barack Obama Academy for Cooking Club with Bar Marco’s chef Jamilka Borges. Every week we teach the kids a new recipe, talk about important topics related to food and healthy living, chat about their lives, and eat together. It’s always some of the best hours of my week! Tonight is a wine-on-the-porch night with a friend, now that the weather is so beautiful, and dinner will be delicious leftovers from my mom’s house in Somerset.

Wednesday: Dinners in the Wine Room are Wednesday through Saturday, so Wednesday is mostly full of preparations for the next few nights. My favorite prep-work (other than selecting the wines, obviously) is going to buy the flowers from a vendor in the Strip District, and decorating for the week. After work, I almost always head to Butterjoint for a fancy burger and a cocktail.

Thursday: Thursday mornings I hold wine school for anyone on the Bar Marco staff who wants to learn a bit more than what we go over regularly at the restaurant. It’s an awesome study tool for me as well. This week, everyone is reading about red wine from Burgundy, and we’ll discuss over lunch and a bottle…or two. Afterwards I might go downtown to Grit and Grace for some post-work snacks and wine.

Friday: I’ll study at Voluto Coffee on Penn Avenue for a few hours. I don’t know why, but I always get extra excited for Friday night Wine Dinners. Everyone is always in such a great mood, and while dinners in the Wine Room are always special, there’s something extra celebratory about Fridays. After the late dinner, I’ll probably stick around and chat with guests in the dining room, maybe open a special bottle to pour by the glass for whoever is in the restaurant.

Saturday: It’s the last night of wine dinners for the week, and we like to go out with a bang: late dinners almost always end with a Champagne sabering lesson on the sidewalk outside Bar Marco. I teach one excited guest how to behead a bottle of bubbly with a cavalry saber (best Christmas present I’ve ever received!) and everyone enjoys the spectacle. It’s incredible how much attention you get when you’re carrying around a giant sword. Afterwards, I’ll head to the Southside to eat at Dish, and then get cocktails at Acacia on Carson Street.

Sunday: I’m definitely sleeping in. At 11 a.m., I go for a blind tasting session at John Wabeck’s (sommelier at Spoon in East Liberty) house. There are a few other industry folks who are also studying for various certifications in the wine world, and everyone is incredibly supportive of one another.  Afterwards, I’ll take a walk in the Strip District, and definitely stop at Eleven for oysters and bubbles. And when Bar Marco closes for the day, I’ll meet up with everyone I work with at the weekly post-brunch industry party at The Livermore, in East Liberty. I like to go to Allegheny Wine Mixer in Lawrenceville on Sunday nights before crashing. I love Sundays.

Monday: I research wines I’d like to buy for the cellar, buy it, call the guests who have already purchased tickets for the week’s dinners, and generally just get everything in order for the week. Afterwards, I’ll make cocktails at home with a friend, and go for a movie at the Manor Theatre in Squirrel Hill.

Jennifer Baron

Jennifer has worked at the Mattress Factory, Brooklyn Museum of Art and Dahesh Museum of Art and is co-author of Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. She also is co-coordinator...