MICHELIN Guide Ceremony 2 minutes 04 May 2022

Alisa Watts and Nicole Ramee, 2022 Washington, DC Sommelier Award Winners

The sommelier team at Xiquet, Nicole Ramee and Alisa Watts, on how they choose their wines and why fried chicken and cheesecake go with Champagne and port.

Washington DC Sommelier Award wine sommelier Wine Access

The sommelier team at One Star Xiquet, helmed by Alisa Watts and Nicole Ramee are this year's Washington, DC Sommelier Award Winners, presented in partnership with Wine Access. Ramee is an alumnus of Union Square Hospitality Group in New York; Watts has previously worked with wineries Eerle, ONX Wines, and Howard Park, in Western Australia's Margaret River and the Great Southern regions.  As part of the 2022 MICHELIN Guide Washington, DC Star Revelation, the pair chatted with us about sharing wine with friends, fried chicken with Champagne and cheesecake with port, and the importance of a diverse wine list.

Dessert and wine paring at Xiquet
Dessert and wine paring at Xiquet

What are you drinking these days?
Alisa Watts: With the warm, spring weather, I love a nice glass of Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé from Provence France!

Nicole Ramee:  If I’m in the mood for a cocktail, with the warm weather right now, I love a French 75 with Roku gin. For wine, it’s the Scala Dei Blanc - Massipa de Scala Dei Grenache Blanc from Priorat! 

What's your favorite nonalcoholic drink?
AW: Decaf cortado with a little bit of brown sugar.

NR: A chocolate shake from Dilly’s, my hometown ice cream and fast food stop.

What's the biggest misconception about being a sommelier, or wine in general, that you'd like to dispel?
AW: As I share my wine knowledge with guests, I learn something new about wine from them every day, whether it be interests in regions, taste preferences or fun facts about places people have traveled to taste wine. The dynamic between a sommelier and a guest is what makes the job exciting. As a guest, it could be intimidating to discuss wine with a sommelier, but their contributions help drive the wine programs to become even greater.

NR:  I am all for splurging on an expensive bottle ($200+). Otherwise, I am like everyone else who enjoys picking up a bottle from Trader Joe’s on a Sunday to enjoy sitting on my porch with friends over just relaxing. To me, it’s not always about who the producer is, but who I’m enjoying the wine with; I’ll remember the memories I have with friends more so than what we drank.

Xiquet sommelier Alisa Watts

What’s your criteria for adding a new wine to your list?
AW: We believe our list benefits from diversity: from the varietals and regions representing them, to the diversity of palates we aim to please, to the types of wineries we showcase. Chef Danny wants to offer those best-of-the-best traditions, of course, and at the same time take the opportunity to highlight newcomers who demonstrate the kind of excellence we look for in our wines.

NR: Chef Danny [Lledó] emphasizes balance; this is true not only within a wine itself, but also across our wine list and in the way our wine pairs with his tasting menu. So as a team, we always bear that in mind when we are evaluating additions to the list. We look for excellence, first, and then consider if a wine truly helps us tell the story of our Mediterranean cuisine.

What's your ideal meal and pairing?
AW: Appetizer and aperitif: caramelized onion, blue cheese and pear tartlet with 2009 Domaine Riuessec Gran Cru Sauternes; Main course: BBQ portobello mushroom and Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel; Dessert: Japanese Cheesecake and 40 year Tawny.

NR: Appetizer: fried chicken with Guillaume Selosse Largillier Extra Brut; Main course: creamy mushroom gnocchi with 2011 Hugel & Fils Pinot Gris “Grossi Laue” from Alsace, France; Dessert: chocolate yogurt raspberry parfait with 2018 Donnhoff Off Dry Riesling from Nahe, Germany.

Xiquet sommelier Nicole Ramee

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Presented in partnership with Wine Access
Presented in partnership with Wine Access

MICHELIN Guide Ceremony

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