A FEW MOMENTS WITH...Matthew-Lorèn - The Lord of Wine

A FEW MOMENTS WITH…Matthew-Lorèn – The Lord of Wine

Matthew-Lorèn lives life in style. Even during this interview as I was in shorts and a t-shirt, he was sporting a blazer (with hankie), dress shirt and not a hair out of place. For the Lord of Wine, style seems to come naturally. You would think that a style master like this would really take a liking to himself, but with Matthew, you get the feeling you’re an old friend, 5 minutes after meeting him. He was born in Israel, but moved to Oklahoma of all places, when he was quite young. It was not until many years later after he had made the move to Las Vegas, that wine made an appearance in his life. And a big impression it was… BP: Tell me your background ML: My story is a little weird, because it’s a little long. I was born in Jerusalem and then moved to central Oklahoma, and then moved to Las Vegas in 2004 BP: How did you end up in Vegas ML: We had relatives visiting from Israel and we were looking for somewhere to vacation to. Branson Missouri, was where my dad wanted to go. I said absolutely not, I’m not going to Branson (laughs). I wanted to go to Florida, because I thought that’s where I was going to move. Ironically, to this day. it’s somewhere I  have never been to. Someone through out Vegas and I kinda shot that down. I grew up in a conservative Christian home, essentially a pastors kid. No one smoked, drank, cussed, gambled, went to strip clubs…so what are we possibly going to do there? BP: So obviously you were overruled… ML: Yea, my dad wanted to see Wayne Newton and everyone wanted to walk the Strip, so I begrudgingly got on a plane to Vegas. I did so however, with the caveat that I could bring my business partner along because he had grown up in Vegas. That way he could be our tour guide, even though he hadn’t been in Vegas since he was like 7 (laughing) BP: So how was the visit? ML: It was alright. I was in the nightlife industry back then. So I was enamored and intrigued by the high level of excellence portrayed. Every minute detail was addressed, which as a Virgo, lines up with who I am.  So by day 3, still thinking I was a bit annoyed by being there, I was walking through the Mirage parking lot with my business partner and I just stopped. He thought something was wrong, but I just said “I’m moving here”. I have no idea what compelled me to say that, but 6 months later I packed up all my stuff, moved here and never looked back BP: So once you moved there, what did you do? ML: Well, actually one of my first nightlife jobs was at the Mirage when I came out here, so it holds a very special place with me. Plus it has dolphins. Who doesn’t love dolphins? BP: So when did you get into wine? ML: Very late, compared to most people. Seems like most people break into their parents liquor cabinet or something like that, and grab an inch off the top of the bottle when their parents were out of town. I didn’t have a sip of alcohol until I was 27 years old. Considering I had been in the nightlife industry for a number of years to that point, I guess it was a little odd. But a couple of events made me sort of gravitate towards it and want to try it. The first was that Robert De Niro owned an Italian restaurant at the Hard Rock and I knew a couple of the managers there. They were very gracious and said to me “Matthew, you know everybody in this town, bring them to the restaurant and we’ll comp all of the meals for the next 6 or 8 months or so”. I stopped cooking at that point and just went to that restaurant every night (laughs) So whenever I had guests in town, that was one of the first stops we made. But I remember being almost paralyzed with fear when they handed me the wine list, because as the “leader” of the group at the table, I didn’t know anything about wine. Not knowing anything with my friends wasn’t a problem, but with clients, I wanted to be intentional with ordering and make sure it paired with the food BP: So I guess at that point, you put it into high gear? ML: Yea, I started researching varietals and just learned what I could to get by. I was also blessed in that I could taste some of the best wines in the world, essentially for free. So I basically had a wine passport with no consequences. I was able to try all types of wines at someone else’s expense. So that’s when I really started to pay attention BP: Had the “bug” bit you at this point? ML: Not really, I was wondering why it was such a big deal, though I did understand the communal effect. But I remember surveying the restaurant one night, table by table, and nearly every table had a bottle and these beautiful Bordeaux glasses. I saw how it elevated peoples experience and the enjoyment of their meal, and it started to click. Then I started to become more interested in the wine list at every restaurant I went to and wanted to try new wines I hadn’t experienced. It became almost like a game to me BP: We’re you building your own collection at this point? ML: (Laughing) Not at all. As a matter of fact, around this time, I was driving home one night and stopped in at a CVS or Walgreens that was going out of business. The had all of the wine at like 50% off, so I loaded up as much as I could in 2 carts and ended up with around 120 bottles of wine. I bought a couple of wine fridges and that was the start of my collection. I don’t think it’s anything I would buy at this point (Laughs) There was a sort of innocence about that though that sparked my interest further, and it grew from there BP: So this is the beginning, what drove you into it in a professional sense? ML: Following these experiences, wine became a lifestyle for me. It wasn’t just something I had at dinner anymore. I was more interested in the wine list than the menu, I would plan travels around wine regions. So at this point I continued collecting, I was reading books on wine, watching videos and shows on wine. Just absorbing everything. Then one night I was at a large beverage convention here in Vegas and at the end of the night I was speaking with a gentleman who was pouring wines for me and he said “How do you know so much about wine?” I never thought in those terms and was just thinking I knew more than the average guy. He offered me a job on the spot, which was at a wine distribution company. I thought, here’s another opportunity to taste new wines on someone else dime. This is like the best job ever. So I worked there for a few years. One night at an event, I was pouring wine for a couple and chatting with them about the wine, and unbeknownst to me a Master Sommelier was listening. After they left he came and asked “How long have you been a sommelier?” I said I’m not. And he said, with your knowledge you would be doing yourself and the industry a disservice by not formalizing your training BP: So that’s when you decided to become a Somm? ML: Yea, the very next morning I woke up and decided I needed to pursue it. But I had no idea what to do. Soon after I met a Master Sommelier here in town, I went through a 10 week Somm boot camp and tested with him and the Court, and then did the WSET program. That was the pivotal moment when I decided to stop just doing it for fun and to really be serious with it BP: So, a little off topic. I saw some clip of you on a bachelor show, what was the deal on that? ML: Wow! You really did your homework. You are a true journalist my friend. That was an experience. I got asked or nominated to be on the 90 day fiancé. I didn’t know anything about the show. I guess the background is that she had been through a divorce/ breakup and was new to the dating scene. Her best friend wanted to hook her up with an eligible bachelor, so they reached out to me and asked if I’d like to go on a date with her. So I said sure, just to see what it was about. I didn’t know it was going to be on national television though. I found that out after they “interviewed” me on Facebook. Don’t know if I’m TV material, but it was a fun experience. As much as like living in the spotlight, I didn’t think it was the right platform to further my goals and my dreams BP: How did you spend 2020? ML: It was a very odd year. I went from living life at 100 miles per hour, into the “great pause”. For someone like me that always has to be productive or doing something, it was tough at first, but then I found my pace and I was able to reflect and appreciate. I knew in my lifetime, I would never have this kind of time to spend with family. So for me, as soon as the lockdown was formalized, I hopped on a plane to spend time with my parents and family. I spent nearly 2 months “living it up” in the great state of Oklahoma. I rode my bike, cooked authentic Israeli meals with my mom and just spent some quality time at home. I’m actually very grateful for that. I also took that time to build what was to come BP: So with that…what is to come for the Lord of Wine? ML: During 2020, I built some processes and ideas and brands for the future. I also got my wine license, so I’m able to make and sell wine. So I’m moving forward with a lot of those and I’m reaping the benefits of the seeds I sowed in 2020. BP: Was the Somm Secrets book created during that time? ML: Yes, and that is sort of a prelude to the Advanced Wine Course that I created. I had been doing wine training courses prior to the lockdown and then we all moved to tastings online. But then I started thinking about all of the courses I had created for the distributorship I had been working for previously. I had created them for new employees who came into the company. The book is really excerpts from these courses and it leads into the bigger picture. I see it as a springboard into further study BP: So tell me about the Advanced Wine Course ML: I was thinking some folks may be intimidated by the formal structure of the Court or WSET or they aren’t looking to go into it as a career, so they don’t need to go that route. I created it as an educational offering for those who want to step up their knowledge and be more confident in a restaurant or a wine store. So in the end, you’re confident in your decisions and not wasting money. I also want to break people out of their comfort zone. You know, the wine they order all the time because it had been marketed to them or they had experienced it before and it became their go to. There are so many great wines out there from different countries and different regions to experience, and if you don’t get out of your comfort zone, you’ll never experience them. I try to speak in everyday language and try to make the course and the book, very approachable. Yet even if you have some knowledge, this course can help you prepare you for the Court or WSET or employment in a fine dining establishment at a fraction of the cost BP: So tell me about the Blended Festivals. Interesting group of cities with San Diego, Austin and Nashville ML: I’m actually not the brain child behind the Blended Festival, I wish I was. But I am very humbled and grateful to be a part of the team as Executive Sommelier and Director of Wine. Blended started in 2019 and had their first festival in San Diego, where the company is based out of. Obviously there wasn’t anything last year but everyone took that time to plan and organize for the expansion to 3 cities this year. The team is amazing, some of people I had worked with here in Las Vegas in the nightlife scene. The whole idea, as the name suggests, is a focus on wine. We truly believe that wine is the future of the entertainment, lifestyle and culinary worlds. Some people feel that the younger generation doesn’t enjoy wine and as people get older there won’t be anyone to fill the void. Personally I don’t see that, wine is still prevalent in the public space. By putting on these festivals we hope to make wine a part of their (the attendees) identity, an extension of their lifestyle BP: So besides wine, what else do the festivals offer? ML: Each festival incorporates wine, music, dining, lifestyle and wellness. We are focusing on all of these elements and we are promoting them equally. We are really excited about the musical acts, but we are equally excited about the local celebrity chefs and the wellness lounge. We are working with an organization called When the Music Stops on these, we felt that one thing missing from festivals was wellness. If you want to take a break and go do some yoga, or just chill and get centered, you can do that here BP: This sounds like an amazing event. I’d love to work with you in anyway I can to help promote the festival, at least here in California ML: Absolutely, whatever you need, we’ll get you hooked up with access and all of the promotional tools BP: Matthew, thanks for your time, it’s been absolute pleasure speaking with you and good luck with all of your many endeavors ML: Thanks so much, and all the best with Booze Press. Glad we were finally able to connect. Talk soon…   Matthew-Lorèn’s Advanced Wine Course: advancedwinecourse.com