Meet Matthew Ousset, the keeper of the wine

May 17 2011 | News

If you’ve ever dined at Antoine’s, then you know that our servers aren’t just servers – they’re also tour guides. One of our favorite things to do is show people around the restaurant. It has a great history!

During these tours, most people get a peek inside our long, extensive wine cellar. There, they usually see one man, the keeper of the wine, Matthew Ousset.

NewOrleansRestaurants.com recently wrote a great profile of Matthew, who started here as a busboy 1981, and is now our wine buyer and beverage manager.  He’s a familiar face around the restaurant, and this place wouldn’t be the same without him.

He’s also a bit of a life saver.  After Katrina, many of our staff scattered across the U.S. and never moved back to New Orleans.  That’s when Matthew stepped up. In the profile, here's how Matthew described the decision for him to be moved from waiter to wine buyer:

“They know I liked to drink wine,” said Ousset with a laugh.  “Michael Guste always caught me with that glass of wine in my hand. He actually said, ‘All the wine you’ve been drinking around here, you have to know something about it now!’”

Since then, he’s made our wine collection something of a novelty, with over 16,000 bottles stacked from floor to ceiling. Every time a diner orders a glass of wine, they have Matthew to thank:

Now, every Tuesday from about 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. wine representatives line up bottles for him to taste, and hopefully order.  He helps customers pick which wines to pair with their dinners. He even stands in as a bar tender at Hermes Bar when one of his 14 staff members doesn’t show up for work.

“That’s what’s good about this job,” he said. “No day is ever the same. Every day is a new day, that’s for sure.”

 Read the rest of the profile on Matthew, and be sure to say hello to him the next time you're here!