ICE’s Resident Sommelier Wants You to Have Fun With Wine: Meet Richard Vayda

From by Caitlin Gunther
ICE’s Resident Sommelier Wants You to Have Fun With Wine: Meet Richard Vayda


By Caitlin Raux


What’s the number one rule of drinking wine? There are no rules. That’s the ethos of ICE’s Director of Wine and Beverage Studies, Richard Vayda. The experienced sommelier and former chef (who was also an opera singer once upon a time) appreciates wine in all of its varieties and for all occasions. Just as there’s a time and place for a grand cru from Bordeaux, there’s also a moment to enjoy a crisp white zinfandel (preferably with potato chips, on the beach). As he teaches students at ICE, the important thing is to keep an open mind and worry less — after all, wine is about enjoyment.


We caught up with Richard before one of his popular Introduction to Wine courses to chat with us for an ICE blog interview.


How did you become interested in wine?


I’m from the Midwest – Chicago, originally – and my grandparents owned a beer and wine warehouse. Alcohol was always around us. When I turned 15, I got really interested in food and wine, so I started making wine in my bedroom. There was no internet then so I had to do everything by books and magazines. I would buy grape concentrate from California – chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon — and I made wine in vats in my bedroom. I didn’t tell my parents right away, but they of course figured out from the smell. Eventually I got to the point where I made sparkling wine.


Read on to learn about Richard's path to becoming ICE's wine expert.