How to Stop Wining

A year ago Larry Schneider was overseeing the launch of gourmet dining at Yankee Stadium. Today he’s studying the Holocaust at Drew.

Sommelier to the stars: Schneider recommended wines to Yankees players.

By Christopher Hann

After supervising the opening of the exclusive Legends Suites Club during the inaugural season at the new Yankee Stadium, the capstone to a long career in restaurants, Larry Schneider’s next career move seemed obvious: He would enroll in Drew’s Caspersen School to pursue a doctor of letters degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. OK, maybe not so obvious.

The 40-year-old certified sommelier was offered the job with baseball’s most storied franchise in January 2009, not long after moving to New Jersey. Although Schneider had little experience as a restaurant manager— wine was his forte—he found himself in perhaps the most prestigious such posting in American dining. He hired and trained the 275-person staff for the field-level restaurant, where membership starts at $500 per seat per game. From time to time, Schneider found himself tending to the gastronomic whims of club members Billy Crystal, Rudolph Giuliani, Jay-Z and their deep-pocketed brethren. Although he’s a Cubs fan, says Schneider, a Chicago native, “It was still really cool.”

So how does a World Series–class purveyor of wine and victuals become a postgrad in Holocaust studies? Schneider says he’s always had an abiding interest in the Holocaust. “Being Jewish and hearing about the Holocaust all through growing up,” he says, “it was something I always studied on my own.”

His girlfriend persuaded him to continue his studies, so he started classes in January. He spent the spring semester doing an independent study preparing for a Center for Holocaust/ Genocide Studies seminar he’ll give this fall on Reagan’s visit to Bitburg Military Cemetery. Ultimately, Schneider says, he’d like to work as a lecturer or researcher, preferably in a Holocaust museum. “So far it’s a very wonderful experience,” he says of his time at Drew. “I couldn’t have chosen a better change in my career path.”

Drink It In

Larry Schneider has tasted and served thousands of wines in his career as a sommelier. Here are seven of his favorites, priced from $20 to $40:

1. Emilio Moro, Tinto Fino. A sumptuous bouquet of licorice, black currants and jammy cherries.

2. Dry Creek Vineyard, Dry Chenin Blanc. The picnic wine to end the debate.

3. Russian Hill, Syrah. Like eating a freshly baked blueberry cobbler.

4. Basilisco, Aglianico. The rich black plum, prune and spiciness of clove and black pepper make you demand a rib-eye steak or loin of venison.

5. Tinto Pesquera, Rioja. A sexy wine with layered blue and black fruits.

6. Avalon, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Imagine you are drinking rich Bing cherry juice out of a metal straw and a puff of cocoa powder blows in your face.

7. Molly Dooker, The Boxer. I can drink this while watching a baseball game, which I do often. —C.H.

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