HOUSTON, Nov. 1, 2013 —For many consumers, buying a bottle of wine or trying to navigate a restaurant wine list is overwhelming. Wine by its very nature can be intimidating, due to the vast scope of regions, varietals and producers. Then there are the endless nuances from vintage to vintage. Add food and personal preferences to the equation, and that's a lot of variables to process. To "demystify" the wine-buying experience, the University of Houston's Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management is bringing in the expertise of one of Houston's top sommeliers.
Through the Fred Parks Lecture Series, Sommelier Sean Beck is presenting "Wine 101: Demystifying the Wine-Buying Experience." The free tasting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 13, in the Conrad Hilton Grand Ballroom at the Hilton University of Houston. The always hands-on, hospitable Beck—who uses his sharp palate and extraordinary memory to develop wine lists and perfect pairings as the sommelier for Backstreet Café, Hugo's and the soon-to-open Caracol restaurant—is committed to making attendees comfortable in the wine world, so they can confidently vocalize their preferences when dining or shopping.
"Having Sean Beck here to participate in this lecture series and present a free wine seminar is a special treat," said Kevin S. Simon, director of the Fred Parks Wine Cellar at Hilton College. "Sean has been called the ‘Dean of Houston sommeliers,' and he presents in such an informal and personal way that everybody learns, everybody benefits—no matter how much or how little you know about wine."
Since Beck arrived at Backstreet Café in 1997, the restaurant has consistently won accolades and recognition from such national publications as Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast and Sante Magazine. His programs at Hugo's and Trevisio have followed suit. For over a decade, he's showcased tremendous talent in diverse and unique wine pairings.
The ever-versatile Beck is also beverage director for Backstreet, Hugo's and Caracol. He focuses on artisan spirits and seasonality in menu and cocktail development. He was voted "Favorite Mixologist" by My Table Magazine readers in 2010, and his cocktails have been included in books and magazines such as Food & Wine, Bar Media, Tasting Panel, Cheers and the recently released Backstreet Café 30th anniversary cookbook.
Locally, Beck is the only individual ever inducted into My Table Magazine's Wine Hall of Fame. He was the three-time champ of the Periwinkle Foundation's Iron Sommelier Competition. In 2011, Beck was named "Best Sommelier in Houston" by the Houston Press, and was also chosen as a Rising Star by Star Chefs.
"At the end of the day, one of the best traits a knowledgeable wine professional can have is to be a good listener," said Beck. "I've spent the last 16 years of my career studying and tasting wine, our menus and getting to know our guests. Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, when put together correctly, it always for make a beautiful moment."
This lecture and wine tasting is underwritten by the Fred and Mabel Parks Foundation. Admission is free, but seating is limited to the first 200 people. Seats are expected to fill up quickly, so RSVP as soon as possible. Attendees must be at least 21 years old to participate, and a photo ID is required. Please arrive promptly as seating will be first-come, first-served. Click here to RSVP.
About Fred Parks
The Fred Parks Lecture Series is an extension of Fred Parks' passion for wine and wine education, and a way to bring wine to the masses. Throughout his illustrious career as a trial lawyer, Parks collected fine and rare French wines. In 1994, he donated a portion of his collection to the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management. This collection became the foundation of the Fred Parks Wine Cellar and features more than 1,000 bottles from the early 1900s to contemporary vintages. Parks died on Oct.18, 2001, at age 95. At his bequest, his estate donated the remainder of his collection to Hilton College. Today, the Fred Park Boardroom showcases his remarkable collection and pairs his passions for wine and education. The boardroom serves as an international repository for research, education and training in the study of wine.