Sommelier Kristin Markley on The Ranch Restaurant’s Vast Wine Program

Photograph by Emily J. Davis

The Ranch Restaurant in Anaheim has 10,000 bottles of wine and more than 500 labels. Kristin Markley, one of seven certified Level II sommeliers there, shares behind-the-scenes stories.

What’s a memory that stands out?
One party ordered five bottles of 1863 Madeira. (Master sommelier) Michael Jordan was here then, and he did a full ceremony. He took the port tongs and put them in fire, until they’re glowing red. Then he put them around the neck of the bottle. After it heated, he poured a glass of ice water on the neck and the glass snapped off. It’s a completely clean snap. You have to do that because the cork will crumble. Corks almost 200 years old can’t survive that. I’m so lucky I got to see that, and try a glass!

Can you share an insider tip?
I get really excited about all the different Madeiras we have. I got my dad one for Father’s Day, from the year his eldest child was born. I get them for gifts. If a friend has a baby, I’ll buy that year, and by the time the child turns 18 or 21, you can gift it to them. That’s the budget way to do it—buy it when it’s younger. It’s a unique gift.

Anything odd you’ve learned?
There’s a funny story about one of the bar shelves. It’s where all the high-end stuff is. All the Pappys, the nice cognacs, the most expensive stuff we have. One night I had a structural engineer sitting at the end of the bar. He said, “You know those aren’t weight-bearing shelves?” I let someone know and (learned) the shelves were meant to hold a couple of cowboy hats and some knickknacks! We had someone come in and fix it the next day, and now it withstands earthquakes.

5 Questions With The Ranch Restaurant’s Award-Winning Bartender Kristin Markley

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