The Art of Fine Wine and The Fine Art of Service

Toussaint has a claim on Boston’s sommelier-at-large. His expertise is regularly in demand at restaurants that need help building their wine list (Lumière in West Newton and the Caveau at Prudential’s Marche Movenpick, or teaching wait staff the finer points of wine service).

In his traveling road show, THE WINE SCHOOL, Toussaint is a genial host . . . A comparative tasting of Chardonnay from France and California was enlightening, despite the fact that the California wines were perhaps less than they should have been, considering the pedigree of the French wines they were up against. But it was a real stroke of instructional genius to include a couple of sauvignon blancs as a control group, and you could see the light drawing on faces around the table as the tasting progressed. This is as relaxed and legitimate as wine education gets. The fact that no one is exerting any pressure on you to learn anything will strike some as a drawback and others as mercy. But wherever Toussaint hangs out his shingle is a place you can raise your GPA (grape point average) effortlessly. Stephen Muse, THE BOSTON GLOBE, Learning by the glass: Imbibing the pleasures of wine education

To hear Harold Toussaint, the sommelier, tell it, he’s the Renaissance man of the Boston wine world. Like most people with a lifelong connection to the business of wine, Toussaint has an almost manic attachment to the world of vines. He can talk for hours about phyloxera and trellising, but he’d jst as soon serve you up a killer bottle of California cabernet with your T-bone –just give him an idea of your taste. That, of course, is the key to being a great sommelier: being intensely schooled in grape arcana, yet having the tableside manner to relate that knowledge to guests. Toussaint manages both, with the grace of a onetime restaurant captain and the intellect of a man who once took second place in the Best Sommelier in America competition. If that’s not enough to impress, Toussaint once worked as sous chef at Le Languedoc on Martha’s Vineyard, The title he likes best is “maitre sommelier in wines and spirits of France,” a designation he was the first American to earn. Rod McKeown, STUFF AT NIGHT MAGAZINE

Susan: I went with my boyfriend [to a Wine School seminar] and we both agreed Harold is a genius and a great teacher. He has to be: I realized I just don’t like Chardonnay wines, but now I understand why! Having that knowledge is invaluable when ordering or purchasing wine. I will definitely go to future events. I like Harold and enjoy his teaching style. . . very interactive. A private, friend-to-fiend, email correspondence in response to The Wine School seminar

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