Loic Nguyen is the General Manager of The Blue Hen in historic Saratoga Springs in upstate New York. Known for his extensive knowledge and background in wine & hospitality, we were lucky enough to catch a few moments with which to discuss his career, its history, and his success within an ever-changing field.
How did you get your start in the hospitality industry?
‘My career started in France, my home country. France being the most visited country in the world, there exists a unique “savoir faire” related to hospitality and fine dining. I was interested in the fact that it rhymes with sharing, relationship and excellence. After years in top French restaurants I wanted to try the American way of life, and here I am.’
What Sparked your interest for wine?
‘Wine is embedded in the French culture, not only the beverage itself, but also the business, geography, traditions, etc. It is on most of the family tables and part of the meal. So naturally, working in fine dining you are exposed to great wines and start to build an interest for it.’
‘Wine is embedded in the French culture, not only the beverage itself, but also the business, geography, traditions, etc.’
How is your wine program unique?
‘Blue Hen is a recognized upscale restaurant in a very competitive market. During our track season we have customers spending thousands of dollars on wine. We have to be up to the most demanding expectations. Red wines are of course a major part of our 250 references list and we like to feature a mix of flagship Estates and hidden gems. We want our customers to be comfortable with us recommending some wines they have never heard off. With a wide choice of reds ranging from light body gamay or pinot noir to big cabs and syrah, we need to control our serving temperature accordingly. We like to serve them at various degrees below room temperature. It helps reducing the volatile alcohol and express the complex aromatics of a wine.’
The last gem you tasted?
‘Encinas Bierzo from Raul Perez and Antoine Graillot. An elegant red wine made from the Mencia grape by 2 fantastic winemakers. It profiles black cherry notes with meaty tones, light spices, blackberries, sous bois, minerality and a superb length.’