Along with the lure of world-class steak over harborside views, 22 Bowen’s Wine Bar and Grille brings a sommelier’s touch to the culinary destination in the City by the Sea. Wine director Stephanie Steed curates an experience around each carefully selected pour.
Like many Rhode Islanders in the restaurant industry, Steed’s journey began at Johnson & Wales University, where she completed an Associate’s Degree in culinary arts, then a Bachelor’s Degree focusing on restaurant management with a double concentration in wine and beverage studies, and from there her path diverged from victuals to viticulture. “I went into my program wanting to be well-rounded,” says Steed. “I kind of just fell into my love for wine. It was a happy accident.”
After graduating, Steed started her career at Ocean House in Watch Hill, first serving, then as a sommelier. What started as an opportunity to work in fine dining before returning to the kitchen turned into over three years of experience and a slightly altered career path dedicated to furthering her skills in wine and beverage. While working at Ocean House, she completed her certification as a sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers.
“There’s something new to learn every day,” she says. “Tasting wine was great, but I really enjoyed learning about the history side of things.” After her time at Ocean House, Steed became the sommelier at The Wheatleigh Hotel in Lenox, Massachusetts where she ran their beverage program for three years. When the opportunity arose for her to return to Rhode Island at 22 Bowen’s Wine Bar and Grille, she was thrilled.
As the wine director, Steed is focused on small production, sustainability, and innovation. For pairings, her goal is to offer a wide selection of offerings. Visitors will still see traditional choices, with rotating favorites from California, France, and Italy on the menu, but Steed also pours a variety of new reserve wines by the glass, each with a focus on sustainability, small production, or female winemakers.
“I want to get to the point where sustainability isn’t just a fun fact because all of our offerings are like that. Everything can be sustainable,” says Steed, explaining that environmentally sound winemaking can adhere to a variety of disciplines, from pesticide-free practices to grapevines grown on solar-powered farms.
While every wine comes with its own unique flavor and origin, all of the selections share an added touch: they each have a history. “A great glass of wine is one that makes you feel very special because of its story. Those are the ones I’ve fallen in love with. I love hearing about wine created by small family businesses or female wine producers,” says Steed. “Wine is a very personal experience.”
Whether you’re new to wine or consider yourself an oenophile, Steed shares the same advice with both guests and restaurant staff for enjoying a glass of wine: “Slow down in your everyday life and take in what’s around you. A lot of elements in wine are nature based, but you can’t discover them unless you slow down to take them in,” she says. “When you’re on the beach, take in the salty air. Take in the flavors at the farmers market and in the grocery store. Pick up those aspects in your daily life.”
Bowen’s Wharf, Newport • 401-841-8884
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