Liz Nicholson's Sommelier Secrets

How to master an all Italian wine list in NYC


Specialization is a term one hears a lot about in the wine world. Whether it's writing or buying, retail or restaurant, today's wine world is so complex and filled with wines new and old that the only way to gain an edge, not to mention a firm grasp on a region, is to specialize in that region.

On the retail side of things, specialists from around the globe can find their niche. But when it comes to restaurants, and in particular restaurants in the U.S., Italy is a niche that can find you. Consider the sheer number of Italian restaurants in Manhattan alone and you'll begin to understand what a vast opportunity specialization in Italian wine can afford.

Liz Nicholson, sommelier of Maialino restaurant in Manhattan, is a perfect case in point. Given the opportunity to create an all Italian list, Liz drew on her years of experience focusing on Italian wine to put together a catalog that works for the comfort seeker and the adventurer. A list that satisfies both the needs of the Wednesday supper, as well as those of the Saturday night celebration.

Recently, Levi Dalton sat down with Liz and discussed the list at Maialino, what wines are gaining Liz's attention, and just how Italy came to capture Liz's interest in the first place. Check out the video in it's entirety for all the details. For a quick rundown of some of the highlights, check out the clips listed below.
Find out how Liz crafts a list that incorporates the oddball, yet still manages to satisfy a broader audience.

Liz goes into detail about obscurity and how she loves to push people towards niche wines. She loves to share the inside knowledge that she gets from visiting her favorite producers.

(Insert screeching tire sound effects) 1998 Bartolo Mascarello Barolo for how much!?

Watch the whole video:

Part 1

Part 2 

Part 3

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: Clairette
    158405 3

    For those who prefer not to watch a video, how about a transcript?

    Oct 19, 2011 at 12:41 PM

  • Snooth User: DCLUCK
    515034 11

    Yes, please. It much easier to take notes from a transcript than a video and those notes are easier to use when shopping for wine than a video.

    Oct 19, 2011 at 1:11 PM

  • Yes, agree. Transcripts would be great.

    Oct 19, 2011 at 1:13 PM

  • Snooth User: lolafabs
    599873 22


    Oct 19, 2011 at 1:16 PM

  • Snooth User: lotm
    878861 16

    Add another voice in favor of a transcript.for all the excellent reasons mentioned above.

    Oct 19, 2011 at 5:07 PM

  • Snooth User: Vino1976
    957872 0

    Watching the videos, i didn't really understand how to master an Italian wine list in NYC.
    I think the lady's knowledge about Italian wines isn't as phenomenal as both snooth and herself think. Maybe she has a superficial knowledge of her favourite grape and the areas where it is cultivated...
    Anyhow i have been at Maialino few times and regarding the wine list, it does not represent some of the wineries that are the true ambassadors of Italian wines in the world. I understand is beautiful to tell the stories of these small winery owners, but it's also becoming a bit boring. Just like the sulphites story.
    Please let's move on. Thanks

    Oct 19, 2011 at 6:11 PM

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