Master Sommelier Joe Phillips traces his love of wine back to two distinct individuals: a college professor who not only introduced him to wine but also to Irish stout and Boston’s Chinatown, and a restaurant manager who was fixated on the thought of devoting an entire refrigerator to storing wine (before proliferation of portable “wine fridges”). These outside influences lured...

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Master Sommelier Joe Phillips traces his love of wine back to two distinct individuals: a college professor who not only introduced him to wine but also to Irish stout and Boston’s Chinatown, and a restaurant manager who was fixated on the thought of devoting an entire refrigerator to storing wine (before proliferation of portable “wine fridges”). These outside influences lured Joe out of his sheltered, East Coast upbringing and tapped into his sense of adventure. Once he caught the wine-and-food bug, there was no turning back. Before he realized what was happening, he was stalking used book stores, scouring the racks for any texts related to wine.

Formerly a music teacher, Joe is passionate about breaking down complex subjects, such as wine, to help others learn. Upon completing his bachelor’s degree at Berklee College of Music, he headed out to Las Vegas to teach music to middle school students. A side gig at a restaurant exposed him to the budding sommelier culture there. When he started down the path to becoming a master sommelier, Joe insists he didn’t know what he was getting himself into. “I didn’t quite fully understand what being a master sommelier meant, and I had no idea how difficult the journey would be.”

“The pursuit simply gave me a point of focus,” he adds. It was purely a way to become a better sommelier.” Yet, as the flash cards piled up, his passion for building a food and wine culture revealed itself. Even now, he is always looking for ways to keep progressing, to build his knowledge, and to mentor those around him.

Joe, who was part of the opening team for the Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas, became a master sommelier during his career there and managed award-winning wine programs for Aqua, Sensi, and Michael Mina. Before signing on as the Director of Wine Education for Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits of Nevada, Joe was the Director of Wine for the MGM Grand Resort and Casino.

Joe continues to mentor servers and sommeliers and share his passion for wine through restaurant staff trainings and through a progressive wine curriculum offered in the SGWS Academy in Las Vegas.  He is an active examiner and educator for Court of Master Sommeliers, a certified educator for the Wine and Spirts Education Trust, and was voted Best Sommelier of Las Vegas in 2012 by Las Vegas Weekly Magazine.

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