A trained visual artist, Wine Director Arthur Hon compares his work in the world of wine as a four-dimensional outlet to express his creativity. A member of Sepia’s savvy team since the restaurant’s 2007 opening, he brings a natural affinity for creating a sensory experience through food and wine.
A self-professed perpetual student, Arthur admits that his curiosity for wine was piqued by his intimidation by it. During his first fine dining experience, his server recommended a bottle of 1998 Chiarello Family Vineyards Roux Old Vine Petite Sirah from St. Helena. After just a taste, his fate was sealed, and he spent the next three months drinking only Petite Sirah and reading as much as possible about the varietal. As his palate developed, he methodically “toured” as many varietals from as many regions as possible, beginning the self-taught journey that would later inform his career.
Arthur began his personal pursuit of wine and work in restaurants while earning his undergraduate and advanced degrees from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. He started at the popular Sushi Wabi, and when Sepia opened, joined the team as a server and wine captain. He continued exploring wine under the tutelage of Sepia’s then-sommelier, Scott Tyree – whom he credits for championing his learning and providing him with the training and encouragement to translate his interest into something much more.
As wine director, Arthur oversees Sepia’s seasonal, food-driven wine list of approximately 350 bottles, featuring boutique winemakers and lesser-known grapes and wine regions, in addition to discovering new finds and facilitating wine pairing events and dinners at Sepia throughout the year. He also hosts weekly wine staff training events to foster the servers’ knowledge and passion for wine at the Michelin star-rated restaurant.
Arthur is firm in removing the pretension and intimidation that often go along with wine lists, which creates a lively conversation that ultimately inspires the guest to try something new. A supporter of local and sustainable growers, he believes in allowing the grapes to speak for themselves as they harmonize with Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman’s seasonal American cuisine.
“Creativity and passion don’t always have to be complex or come from afar,” he says. “Simpler is always better.”
Arthur’s approach to wine captured the attention of the James Beard Foundation when, in 2012, Sepia was named a semifinalist in the Outstanding Wine Program category. Arthur is certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers and is currently studying for the Advanced Level exam, which he will take in 2012.