Michelin Star Revelation 1 minute 06 October 2022

Nikita Malhotra, MICHELIN Guide NY 2022 Sommelier Award Winner

Two MICHELIN Star Ko wine director Nikita Malhotra on cacio e pepe with sake and reading about Madeira's vineyards.

New York City wine Sommelier Award sommelier Wine Access

Congratulations to Nikita Malhotra, MICHELIN Guide New York 2022 Sommelier of the Year winner, presented in partnership with Wine Access! Malhotra has been a quiet but steady force in New York’s wine scene, working in retail and wine bars over the last decade. She brings creativity and personality to her position as wine director at Two MICHELIN Star Ko, and her wine list highlights excellence from icons and rising stars alike in regions across the world. As part of the 2022 MICHELIN Guide New York Star Revelation, we chatted with Malhotra about buckwheat tea, a somm's role in hospitality, and what she's reading.

Ko © Momofuku/Ko
Ko © Momofuku/Ko

What are you drinking these days?

What's your favorite nonalcoholic drink?
Soba cha (buckwheat tea) has been a constant companion this year, hot in the colder season and iced when it’s warm. At Ko we source our soba cha from Kettl.

What's your ideal meal and pairing?
Cacio e pepe and sake, specifically Kikuhime BY 2008.

One of Ko's main dishes © Momofuku/Ko
One of Ko's main dishes © Momofuku/Ko

What's the biggest misconception about being a sommelier, or wine in general, that you'd like to dispel?
People tend to isolate the sommelier and consider the wine as a distinct part of a restaurant. The best sommeliers are agents of hospitality and work seamlessly with all the elements of service. Specific to a sommelier, I think that people tend to focus on the association with wine and the glamour that the job prescribes, but at the end of the day, a sommelier is part of a restaurant. The best sommeliers are agents of hospitality. The best sommeliers are in tune with all elements of service and can work with their team to provide an experience that requires a lot of thought and planning, but when executed well, seems seamless.

What’s your criteria for adding a new wine to your list?
We are unique in that we also provide the winemaker in terms of listing our wines. Wine can provide this framework of being transported to a time and place and in terms of selecting for the list, I am interested in how I can provide that experience for the guest. Sommeliers are, in a way, ambassadors for winemakers and wine regions. It is important to maintain that and also provide options for guests.

Favorite wine-related film, book, magazine, etc?
I worked at an academic bookstore for 6 years, so books are a constant companion for me. I just finished Noël Cossart's Madeira, The Island Vineyard. Nobel Rot magazine is also wonderful because it celebrates all aspects of wine and really delivers on interesting and engaging content.


Ko wine director, Nikita Malhotra
© Momofuku/Ko

Hero image: Nikita Malhotra © Momofuku/Ko

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Presented in partnership with Wine Access

Michelin Star Revelation

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