Paul Ozbirn Is Austin's Newest Advanced Sommelier
Parkside Projects beverage director aces rigorous wine test
By Virginia B. Wood,
1:30PM, Tue. Apr. 14, 2015
The Master Court of Sommeliers has announced that 18 people have just passed the advanced sommelier exam for this year. Three of the new designates are Texans and one is Austinite Paul Ozbirn, beverage director for chef Shawn Cirkiel's Parkside Projects restaurant group.
Ozbirn now joins an elite group of advanced sommeliers working in the well-respected Austin wine market. His 10-year local career includes stints at Vin Bistro and wink, where he became a certified sommelier and wine buyer, before moving on to the Paggi House. “Working with the deep and extensive list at the Paggi House really inspired me to start hitting the books every day,” Ozbirn recalls. Paul also said that Austinite Scott Ota's win at the TEXSOM 2013 best sommelier competition prompted him and his study group of local wine professionals to work even harder, meeting for regular study sessions and weekly blind tastings over the past couple of years. “Studying over the past six months became really intense. You cram as much information into your brain as possible and hope some of it sticks,” he laughs.
Now that Ozbirn has accomplished his goal of passing the advanced sommelier exam, his is once again fully focused on his position as beverage director for parkside, the backspace, olive & june, and the the company's forthcoming tapas bar, Bullfight. Not only does he hold weekly staff education classes at each of the restaurants, but he also spends some time on the floor at each eatery, interacting with clients and offering knowledgeable wine suggestions to complement menu options. He's particularly excited about developing a distinctive list of Spanish wines to share with guests at Bullfight.