A Milwaukee Sommelier’s Story: Meet Katie Espinosa of the Bartolotta Restaurants

She’s putting Brew City on the wine map.

This year Bartolotta Restaurants’ Katie Espinosa added an exceptionally bright feather to her cap. She earned the title of Level 3 Advanced Sommelier, an honor that places her in a very elite group. To reach that status, Espinosa – a Wauwatosa native who started her Bartolotta career in 2002 as a server at Lake Park Bistro – applied for the certification program created by the Court of Master Sommeliers.

She passed the test (which had three components, including a blind tasting of six wines) on the first try, all while overseeing operations at BacchusRistorante BartolottaPizzeria Piccola and the Bartolotta airport restaurants. For a city sometimes overlooked for its culinary achievements, it “puts us on the map,” she says. “There is the stigma of us being just a beer town. Restaurants are showing” there’s a lot more than good malted beverages here.

A few insights:

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Are you an adventurous eater or do you play it safe? Say so. It can help the server pinpoint a wine match.

Go fizzy.

Espinosa’s personal tastes veer to bubbly (which is why Bacchus’ Champagne series dinners bring in the cream of vintners), and she also loves dry white wines like riesling, chablis and gruner veltliner.

Think regionally.

If you drink the wines an area is known for, you’ll start to discern what makes them shine. For instance: Argentinian Malbec, Portuguese and South African reds, Loire Valley reds, Sangiovese from Tuscany and Umbria, Alsatian and Spanish whites. 


The Ultimate Milwaukee Drinking Guide

‘I’ll Drink to That’ appears in the December 2017 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands beginning November 27, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.