To Be Or Not To Be … A Wine Sommelier

768 1024 MAHA KIMBERLY AKHTAR

I read somewhere recently that one should be proud of one’s choices…and not necessarily one’s talents. Hmmm…? Because choices involve working hard, and the achievements that follow are worth every drop of blood, sweat and tears you put into it. Let’s just say for a moment you are lucky enough to have a gift, if…

Wine & Warmth

768 1024 MAHA KIMBERLY AKHTAR

These days, when you tell someone that you’re a wine sommelier, they inevitably register a look of awe: eyebrows raised, eyes wide, mouth gaping… “You must be really smart,” is the opening line that invariably follows. Thank you “Somm,” the 2013 documentary that follows four wine captains in their quest for the Master Sommelier certification.…

A Time To Wine

768 1024 MAHA KIMBERLY AKHTAR

Back in the day, there was a bar on Greenwich Avenue called “The Bar.” It was truly a neighbourhood dive, with a great jukebox and a man called Johnny with a long ZZ Top-style beard behind the bar. Open until 4am, it attracted all kinds: nurses getting off their shifts, servers, other bartenders, writers, artists…

The Art of Hospitality

768 1024 MAHA KIMBERLY AKHTAR

This summer got me thinking seriously about restaurant hospitality. I spent a grueling four months as the wine director, sommelier and special events guru at the Hamptons outpost of a New York City restaurant that has been around for three decades and I noticed that the time-honoured tradition of hospitality isn’t quite… ‘hospitable’ … but…

Of Avatars Past

401 600 MAHA KIMBERLY AKHTAR

New York…my city, my home, my sanctuary. It’s where I’ve lived since 1982. 36 years, the better part of my life. One of the reasons I love it is because here, I can be who I want to be. It is here that I have reinvented myself time and time again: going from journalist to…

The Quality of Life

1024 769 MAHA KIMBERLY AKHTAR

Of late, I’ve been quite preoccupied with the idea of quality of life and what it really means to me. I’ve always been a hard worker, whether it was in school or later when I started working…somehow, I was happy to put in long hours, trying to go the extra mile, keeping ahead of the…

For the Love of a Prince

768 1024 MAHA KIMBERLY AKHTAR

I had all intentions of watching the royal wedding this past weekend. But I slept through the alarm, woke up late and had to rush off to work. Later that Saturday night as I served a delicious 2015 Puligny-Montrachet from Jean Chartron, I was asked by the gentleman who was tasting the wine if I’d…

The Wine of Memories

768 1024 MAHA KIMBERLY AKHTAR

“Drink wine…Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life…” so said Omar Khayyam in his Rubaiyyat in the 11th century. Fast forward a thousand years: I was about ten years old when I had my very first sip of red wine…it was a Chateau Margaux Grand Cru Classe, 1959. I don’t remember the…

A Writer’s Mecca

768 1024 MAHA KIMBERLY AKHTAR

On a recent visit to Paris, I went on a pilgrimage to what I think is the mecca for writers…: the Bar Hemingway in the Ritz Hotel on the Place Vendome. It’s a small bar all the way in the back of the hotel, a bit of a walk through the long, luxurious corridors lined…

The Name Game…Kim Akhtar vs. Maha Akhtar

1000 667 MAHA KIMBERLY AKHTAR

Despite having lived in New York since 1982, my career as an author was launched in Spain a decade ago. It was 2008 and I remember clearly sitting in a marketing meeting with my publisher who suggested that I use Maha Akhtar as my nom de plume. ‘It’s so much more exotic,’ she said,‘and it…