Pappas Come Lately, There's a New Kid in Town: Sommelier Steven McDonald

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Last week, I sat down to chat with thirtysomething San Antonio native Steven McDonald, who recently returned to Texas from New York City, where he had been working as a sommelier at some of the city's top fine wine destinations. A former music educator, Steven is now working as a sommelier at Pappas Bros. Steakhouse on Westheimer.

What's your favorite wine by the glass at Pappas?

Barboursville Vineyards Cabernet Franc Reserve, Virginia 2009. It is very balanced and shows varietal character. Medium- to full-bodied with flavors of ripe black cherry, raspberry, a slight floral and vegetal component and a touch of oak. It is also a chance to get people excited to try a varietal that they may not have had before and a chance to show how other states, like Virginia, are making quality wine.

What's the surprise value bottle that I might miss on your list?

Some of my favorite value bottles include La Pialade Côtes-du-Rhône 2007 by Chateau Rayas ($80). It is a more elegant-style, Grenache-dominant Côtes-du-Rhône that is very representative of Chateau Rayas -- almost Burgundian. Also, Bodegas Juan Gil "Juan Gil" Jumilla 2010 ($45), [a wine that] always over-performs. It is full-bodied, 100 percent Monastrell from Jumilla with flavors of deep, sun-baked black fruit, oak, olive, rustic herbs and licorice.

I just ordered my rib eye, black and blue, and I want a big red: what's your recommendation?

Le Vieux Don Jon Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2006. Classic blend, traditional winemaking and small production. It is ripe and textured with generous fruit, pepper, smoke and herbaceous quality. Not over the top, so you would still be able to taste the high-quality meat. How does it feel to be back in Texas after living in New York City?

I love being back in Texas. Of course, there are things about the city I miss, but I love having space and Tex-Mex, and this is the state to have both!

What's in your car CD player/iPod right now?

I am listening to a funny mix of Kenny Garrett (jazz saxophone), Brazilian lounge music, some Disney classics (for my daughter) and Claude Debussy.

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