Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas
- 4150 North MacArthur Boulevard, Irving, Texas, 75038, U.S.A.
Beverage Manager and Master Sommelier
Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2002
- First Four Seasons Assignment: Current
- Erna’s Elderberry House, Oakhurst, California; Restaurant Serenade, Chatham, New Jersey; Liquorama Wine Cellars, Hyde Park, New York; Grapevine Wines & Spirits, Little Rock, Arkansas
- Many, Louisiana, USA
- Bachelor of Science, International Trade and Finance, Louisiana State University; Culinary Arts Degree, Culinary Institute of America; Diploma, Wine & Spirits Education Trust; Certified Wine Educator, Society of Wine Educators
Among the endless possibilities of culinary “pairings,” Texas and wine might not seem much of a match. But they actually go together quite well, says James Tidwell – and he ought to know. As Master Sommelier of Café on the Green at Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas, Tidwell has the pleasure of managing an exceptional wine list while catering to some of the state’s most exuberant oenophiles. “Texas has gotten stereotyped as a place that drinks California Cab and Chard, but that’s not all we drink.”
Indeed, in a recent article he penned for Four Seasons Magazine on wine from unusual places, Tidwell offers only recommendations available locally, including a Riesling from China and a Cab-Carignan-Cinsault from Lebanon. “Hundreds of new wines have come on the market here over the last five years,” he notes. “Texans like to travel, and their exposure to wine grows along the way. As budgets have tightened in other regions, suddenly we’re the go-to place for winemakers who can’t sell elsewhere.”
Of course, an alluring wine list means little for a restaurant without someone knowledgeable to promote it on the floor. That’s a dilemma Tidwell is bent on ameliorating. As head of the Texas Sommelier Association, which he co-founded in 2005 with Four Seasons support, he oversees an annual conference to challenge local wine stewards to enhance their talents through certification. “The conference has become a model in the wine industry, and hosting it at the Resort has been vital to its appeal.”
Raised by an evangelical minister in small-town Louisiana, Tidwell fell hard for cooking and earned a degree from the Culinary Institute of America. After dividing his time between wine shops and the kitchen, he decided wine held the most appeal. He has pursued his profession to the fullest, earning the prestigious title of Master Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers in early 2009 – one of only four sommeliers in Texas and just 100 throughout the States to be so designated. Not surprisingly, Tidwell has become the go-to guy for Four Seasons to consult on its many American wine programmes.
Wine is a living, breathing thing, and there’s always more to learn – and teach. Recently, Tidwell returned from a “wonderful” week-long tasting tour of Chile, where he participated in a colloquium for 100 local wineries. His topic? “Educating Sommeliers.”