Jason Smith is just the exacting, precise sort of fellow one might expect a master sommelier to be. After earning his diploma from the Court of Master Sommeliers, the Culinary Institute of America graduate arrived in Las Vegas in 2006 to work at Bellagio. Prior to and during Smith’s tenure as wine director, Bellagio has earned Wine Spectator’s grand award for Picasso, its “Best of” awards for excellence (Prime, Le Cirque, Osteria del Circo, Jasmine, Michael Mina and Sensi) and an award of excellence for Todd English’s Olives and Fix.
“I have the best job in the company, if not the country,” he says. Also part of his job, Smith regularly hosts wine, culinary and cultural events on property. Smith is one of just 180 master sommeliers in the world. There are 14 in Las Vegas, three of whom work at Bellagio, which, Smith says, is the most at any one property in the world. That whets our appetites to know more about his wine program there, by the numbers:
• At any given time, there are about 85,000 bottles on property, roughly $6 million in wine.
• There are 5,250 wine selections on Bellagio’s master list, 250 available by the glass.
• Bellagio buys “north of $10 million” in wine each year, Smith says.
• Bellagio’s 17 sommeliers open about 2,000 bottles each day in the property’s 32 outlets, including catering, banquets and room service.
• Yes, Bellagio recycles all that glass but also its corks, through ReCork.org.
• The collection is constantly changing. Every six weeks, 150 wines are added to the master list and 150 fall off.
• Bellagio goes through 1,100 cases of Dom Pérignon Champagne annually.
• The best seller by revenue is French red wine; by volume it’s American red wine.
• Average wine price is $95-$150 per bottle.
• The rarest bottle: a single 1985 Romanée-Conti, a Grand Cru pinot noir from Burgundy, priced to sell at $25,000.