Instead of traveling on multiple flights around the world to different countries as a tourist, guests can now travel through different “flights” of wines from a variety of countries, all during a guest’s dining experience at Morels.

When visiting Las Vegas, tourists come to sightsee the beautiful hotels on Las Vegas Boulevard. They want to gamble a little, and of course enjoy some of the most unique, one-of-a-kind food and beverage experiences in the city that never sleeps. People come for the celebrity chef experience, the unique themed restaurants and buffets, and of course, who doesn’t enjoy some quality seafood and a good steak? Amidst all the hustle and bustle of the city is a gem of a restaurant tucked away in the lobby of The Palazzo Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. If you haven’t been, Morels French Steakhouse and Bistro is a must-dine restaurant, with something for everyone.

Being that the restaurant name has the keywords “French” and “Steakhouse” in it, of course Morels specializes in French cuisine as well as a selection of dry- and wet-aged steaks. However, don’t be misled… there is also a chilled seafood bar for those who love their oysters and other delicacies under the sea. For the cheese and cured meats lovers, there is also a cheese/charcuterie bar, with over 60 selections from around the world.

Then, of course, there’s the wine. With over 400 varieties of wine around the world, the wine list has received Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence. The selection focuses primarily on French and California wines, yet there are wines from other old and new world regions, proving that there really is something for everyone. For those who prefer to have wines by-the-glass or tastings, Morels offers up to 50 wines by-the-glass on a day-to-day basis, which is made up of sparkling, white, red and dessert wines. Not only does Morels offer an extensive wine list, but also has a wide selection of specialty liquors and artisan beers to match.

The primary management team at Morels is made up of Lou Hirsch General Manager, J.L. Carrera Executive Chef, and Alexandre Brard Wine Director. Recently, the team decided to take on a new approach to their wines-by-the-glass program, with the help of their Enomatic wine pouring/preservation system and Southern Wine and Spirits. I sat down with Wine Director and Certified Sommelier Alexandre Brard to learn more.

Brard has been with Morels since 2010, his five-year anniversary being in December of 2015. Prior to his tenure at Morels, he worked for a number of Michelin-starred fine dining restaurants, such as Joël Robuchon, Restaurant de l’Hotel de Ville in Switzerland and L’Espérance in France. In addition to being a Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, Brard has also continued his professional development by obtaining his Certified Beer Server certification through the Cicerone program. He has a clear passion for wine, and works hard to make wine enjoyable and understandable for all guests dining at the restaurant. Lou Hirsch, General Manager at Morels, finds that “working with Alex is a pleasure every day. He brings a commonsense approach to a profession that can sometimes seem snobbish, and he is definitely not snobbish.” This is something that I can attest to, as Brard has a very down-to-earth personality that makes him very approachable to ask any wine related questions without feeling the pressure of the arrogance that sometimes exists in the wine world.

This humble nature has resulted in the restaurant’s vision for new wine program that will begin in mid-December. The concept is a unique twist to the standard wine flight tastings that one would experience in a typical restaurant. Morels calls it the Wine Flight Passport program, which was created in partnership with Southern Wine and Spirits of Nevada. Restaurant guests will be provided with a “passport,” which will have 24 wines listed, along with a space for a stamp. Each time a guest buys a glass of wine from the passport list, they will get a stamp for that wine. When you purchase ten glasses of wine, then you receive a free glass of wine. Instead of traveling on multiple flights around the world to different countries as a tourist, guests can now travel through different “flights” of wines from a variety of countries, all during a guest’s dining experience at Morels.

Now, there are some unique stipulations to this Wine Flight program. The wines on the list are all big and bold red wines, which are poured through a 24-bottle Enomatic wine pouring and preservation system. This makes logical since Morels is primarily a steakhouse, and red wines do pair well with red meats. The Enomatic system has been in place since the restaurant’s opening; however, what sets this restaurant apart are the types of wines that will be poured through the system. Morels offers guests the opportunity to try a variety of wines they may not typically try or purchase. The launch, anticipated to begin in mid-December, will come just in time for the holiday celebrations and festivities!

Additionally, external to the program, there are two additional wines poured that are typically part of the reserve wine lists, and are rarely poured by the glass. The two wines that will be poured concurrently with the Wine Flight program will be Opus One, and a first-growth Bordeaux red wine. For standard wine tasting options other than the Wine Flight program, customers have the option to receive 1 oz, 5 oz, and 8 oz pours. This can potentially help guest decide what wines to select as part of the Passport.

Morels has always provided a great value for their wines, and strives to keep margins lower so that they can provide a better experience and value for their guests. Prior to the launch of the new program, Brard chose to maintain a standard wines-by-the glass menu that was catered to the larger audience and demand, with a somewhat level price point for selection. With the launch of the Wine Flight Passport program, Brard wanted to shift the philosophy by raising the quality level of the wines in order to give a broader experience for those dining in the restaurant. Customers now have the chance to explore new wines that are atypical of the standard wines by the glass selection.

Currently, the most expensive glass of wine on the Passport is Tignanello, valued at approximately $60 a glass. There are a number of other well-known producers and wine types on the Wine Flight Passport, such as Penfolds, Stag’s Leap, Caymus, Antinori, Châteauneuf du Pape and Côtes du Rhône wines.

Use this holiday season to take a “flight” around the world from your wine glass, with the Wine Flight Passport program at Morels French Steakhouse and Bistro. The wine list is sure to impress, and the more you “travel,” the more stamps you get towards a free glass of wine! Hope to see you there!

Fun Facts about Alexandre Brard:

1 He was once Alexandre Brard, private butler to the Prince of Italy.

2 He plays a multitude of instruments, including piano, guitar, drums, and even enjoys spinning on turntables to house and trance music!

3 He makes his own homebrewed beer with 11 different batches so far, and even makes beer bread with his concoctions! Brard may like his wines, but it is difficult to make wine from home. Beer only needs four ingredients: water, grain, hops and yeast… easy, right?

Cheers and Happy Holidays! ~ Alice