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Meet the team at USQ:

Larry Swanson - Director of Marketing
From on air to in print, I'm always on point to get the USQ message from grape to glass. Give me a call to discuss any 'grape' ideas you might have - salut!

Jesse Salazar - Wine Director

Jesse has been obsessed with wine since he saw James Bond order the 1953 Dom Perignon in Goldfinger. With an American Sommelier Association Sommelier certificate in hand, as well as a restaurant background, Jesse has been helming the keep as wine director at USQ since 2003. He’s traveled to wine regions spanning from the Duoro Valley to Stellenbosch to his home state of California, with numerous trips to Italy, France and Spain. He can actually narrow down his most memorable bottles to two: the 1999 Jamet Cote Rotie and the 1997 Hecker Pass Winery Petite Sirah. But his favorite food and wine pairings are a bit more difficult to deduce, ranging from toast with truffle butter and Barolo to kielbasa and Bandol to Thomas Keller’s recipe for crispy chicken thighs and Gevrey-Chambertin. While he’s in charge of the more than 2,000 wine labels in the store, he’s still big on spirits. A fan of the Negroni, he either sips his favorite version in the city at Prune or mixes one up at home. When he’s not drinking the classic Italian aperitif, he’ll have a Old Fashioned, bourbon Sidecar or Margarita (in that order). And if he’s not at dining at the popular American bistro, he might be at Edi & the Wolf and Txikito, in New York, or better yet, Cantinho do Avillez, in Lisbon.

Tom Smith - Events & Spirits Directors

Tom SmithTom loves all spirits equally, but he has one go-to cocktail, the Sazerac. Tom’s fascination with wines and liquors began as he, age 9, watched his parents and their friends taste flights of a “new cult winery called Silver Oak.” Since then, he’s traveled extensively throughout France and considers Burgundy one of his favorite regions. In fact, his most memorable bottle was a 1971 Domaine Rousseau Clos de Beze. Even though he doesn’t speak Spanish (only French), Tom worked a harvest in Priorat and loves a good Rioja alongside grilled lamb. If he’s not running a tasting event in the Salon, look for him with a bottle of Pinot Noir at Terroir or a glass mezcal at Mayahuel in the East Village.

Katherine Moore - Sales General Manager

Katherine’s food-and-wine experiences in France and Germany in the 1960s inspired her love of all-things wine. She has traversed the wine countries of Europe with abandon, from Spain to Hungary to Italy, as well as Napa and Sonoma in California. She most recently toured and tasted in the Loire Valley and Champagne. In fact, Champagne is close to her heart; she’s a “firm subscriber to Madame Bollinger’s protocol for proper service of Champagne.” But she’s also a lover of Rhone Valley blends, naming magret de canard with bottling of cru Rhone wine among her favorite pairings, and Burgundy, citing a 1959 Domaine G. Roumier Bonnes Mares as a memorable bottle. Well, that and the 1899 Vouvray she had the rare (and lucky!) opportunity to taste.

Frank Fornero - Sales Manager

Frank ForneroFrank Fornero got hooked on wine in 1994, while dining outdoors at a restaurant in Naples, Florida. He ordered blackened grouper with a mango chutney, and the waiter suggested the 1992 Caymus Sauvignon Blanc. He describes the pairing as “magical,” and he hasn’t stopped with wine and food since. Now in his tenth year at USQ, Frank consults on the side, travels throughout Italy regularly, and celebrates Christmas with vintage Port and aged Stilton. He’s a fan of Gin and Tonics in the summer and Manhattans in the winter, and if he needs a city escape, he heads to Pentimento in Stony Brook for their selection of Italian craft ales.

Charles Sasson - Sales Manager

Charles SassonCharles is a sucker for Gamay. But that hasn’t stopped him from sipping anything from a 1960s, fully botrytized Viura from Lopez de Heredia to a 1996 Michel Gaunoux Pommard Grands Epenots Premier Cru. Wine lures him in because it’s a convergence of multiple disciplines, equal parts art and science, that results in an endless number of variations. That same goes for spirits. If he’s not eating truffled cheeses alongside a Northern Rhone Syrah, he’s downing a “summer scotch” of mezcal, whipping up an 'Adonis Cocktail' of dry sherry, vermouth and orange bitters, or sipping a Hemingway Daiquiri at Painkiller on the Lower East Side.

Joseph Sangiovanni - Sales

Joseph SangiovanniJoseph won’t ever forget drinking a bottle of 1967 Barolo with its producer, Mauro Mascarello, nor does he mind the regular glass of anything Nebbiolo -- it’s his go-to varietal. Having grown up in a winemaking family, and later working grape harvests in Piedmont and Campania, Italy is close to his heart. (And tongue. He speaks fluent Italian!) He even names wild boar and Nebbiolo as one of his favorite pairings! But his knowledge extends worldwide. Joseph’s a big wine history buff and can tell you all sorts of random facts about regions and producers. He sips the occasional vodka Dirty Martini and makes a mean Bloody Mary from scratch. The recipe is a secret but he offers this hint: “add some Samuel Smith porter to give it some weight.”

Seth White - Sales

Seth WhiteBeverage Management and Marketing was one of the hardest courses Seth White took while studying hospitality and tourism business at James Madison University; it also spurred his passion for wine. He now has plans to visit wine destinations from Spain to South Africa and loves a good glass of Cabernet Sauvignon with a rare Porterhouse. Memorable bottle? A 2001 Vilmart Coeur de Cuvee that pleasantly surprised him with its unique flavor and complexity. Seth is big on spirits too, taking rye whiskey neat or crafting an Old Fashioned. Don’t be surprised if you spot him at local haunts such as Corkbuzz or jamming out on the guitar in Brooklyn with a bourbon next to his chair.