Interview with The Setai's Head Sommelier, Hakan Balkuvvar

Interview with The Setai's Head Sommelier, Hakan Balkuvvar
We found Hakan decanting a red in The Grill, which houses the Wine Cellar and decided to find out a bit more about the man behind the Cellar's success:

What sets the Setai Grill's wine collection apart from other restaurants and wine bars in the area? Number of wines?

The Wine Cellar is the biggest wine collection in the Miami Beach area carrying a total of 630 selections equaling to 4,200 bottles. This collection focuses on the best wine from France, Europe, Spain and Highland California.

What are the priciest, oldest and rarest bottles in the Collection?

Our priciest is the 1990 3-Liter Chateau Margaeux priced at $40k. This was a great year in wine! It received 100 points on the quality scale from highly respected critics including Wine Spectator Robert Parker. The oldest is our Vintage 1952 Chateau Petrus. The rarest is a bottle of 1907 Heidsieck & Co Monopole "Gout Americain" priced at $25K.

What is your favorite wine and why?

Northern Rhône Wines because they are family-owned and harvested with the best grapes. The Wine Cellar carries 6 bottles of these wines per year. My second choice is the Domaine Jean Louis Chave Hermitage Rouge because it is rarely duplicated.

Can you give us a sampling of a wine pairing for a dinner at The Grill?

LOBSTER SUMMER ROLL: Paired with HOFER Grüne r-Veltliner, Weinviertel, Austria 2013. This dry crisp wine complements the sweet and spicy mango sriracha sauce and mango-passion fruit gelee.

SHORTRIB GYOZAL: Paired with ABERRANT CELLARS Pinot Noir «Confero» Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA 2012. The richness of the foie gras and wagyu beef are offset by the dryness and acidity of this Oregon Pinot Noir.

RISOTTO HOT POT: Paired with DOMAINE DE LA LIGIÈRE, Côtes du Rhône. The mushrooms and delicate high-end Japanese rice in the risotto hot pot are balanced nicely by this dry, earthy red wine with a nice balance of acidity.

WAGYU BONE-LESS NY STRIPLOIN (10 OZ): Paired with ASKA «Super Tuscan» Bolgheri, Italy 2012. This full-bodied blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc from Bolgheri, Tuscany has velvety tannins and a persistent finish that stands up to the flavor of this lean New York Strip.

For more information about The Setai's Wine Cellar or to make a reservation at The Grill please call 888-923-7899 or email

Visit website: