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Alpana Singh Speaker

Alpana Singh

    • First Indian woman and youngest female to become a Master Sommelier, a title awarded to only 274 people worldwide
    • Host of the three-time Emmy Award-winning restaurant review TV show, Check, Please!
    • Has received several awards, including the “Sommelier of the Year” Wine Star Award from Wine Enthusiast magazine
Full Bio
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One Chicago Stories | Alpana Singh

One Chicago Stories | Alpana Singh

Sommelier of the Year - Alpana Singh

Sommelier of the Year - Alpana Singh

Alpana Singh Speaker Biography

One of only 274 Master Sommeliers worldwide, and one of just 24 women to be given the distinction, Alpana Singh became the youngest female to pass the final level of the Master Sommelier exam, at the age of 26.

Born and raised in Monterey, California, Alpana's strong work ethic and ease with people of all ages stemmed from a youth spent working in her family’s ethnic grocery store. Later, while waiting tables in college, she fell in love with wine and discovered that it united her varied interests in traveling, history, and food.

Alpana Singh shares her inspiring story of rising from the daughter of Fijian immigrants to becoming a successful entrepreneur and television personality all while navigating a male-dominated profession. She gives groups a glimpse of the back of the house as she teaches them how to taste wines “blind,” purchase bottles like a professional, and pair with meals for any occasion.

At the age of 19, Alpana pursued a path in the business with a job as a wine sales clerk at Nielsen Bros. Market in Carmel, California. By 23, she had landed the sommelier position at the world-renowned Everest Restaurant in Chicago. Just three years later at the age of 26, she earned the title Master Sommelier.

This distinguished accomplishment, along with her effervescence, experience and energy, was magnetic, and it wasn’t long before Alpana Singh found herself in the local spotlight. For ten seasons, she served as the host of the three-time Emmy Award-winning restaurant review television show, Check, Please!, on Chicago’s PBS station, and returned in 2018 after a five-year absence. In 2014, she also appeared as a featured judge on Food Network's Food Truck Face Off.

In 2006, Alpana released her first book, Alpana Pours, a unique lifestyle book that shares her social observations of wine, contemporary women, and relationships. A humorous and real look at the sometimes absurd interactions between men and women plays out in an entertaining book of tips for hosting and entertaining.

In December 2012, Alpana opened her first restaurant, The Boarding House, a wine-driven concept in the River North neighborhood. In February 2015, she opened her second restaurant, Seven Lions, on Chicago's iconic Michigan Avenue, and then in 2016, she opened her third restaurant venture, Terra & Vine, in Evanston, Illinois.

Alpana has been recognized for her various achievements and contributions to both her industry and community. In 2001, Alpana was included as a Crain’s “40 Under 40” honoree in Chicago at the age of 24, Bon Appetit named her "Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year" in 2006, and she received the “Sommelier of the Year” Wine Star Award from Wine Enthusiast magazine. She has also been featured in numerous publications, including Newsweek, Food & Wine, Wine Spectator, Chicago Tribune, and The New York Times.

A prominent member of the community, Alpana is a member of the Choose Chicago Board of Directors and on the Advisory Council for the Illinois Restaurant Association. She played a significant role in bringing the James Beard Foundation Awards to the city of Chicago in 2015 and is an avid supporter of Deborah's Place, an organization that assists and empowers women facing homelessness.

Alpana Pours.

Alpana Singh’s road to the top of her field was a whirlwind. Born to Indian parents who moved to California from the Fiji Islands, she discovered the art of wine while working as a hostess and found that it combined her varied interests of geography, history, and food. She achieved her goal of becoming a Master Sommelier (there are only 274 Master Sommeliers worldwide) at the tender age of 26. She conducts a series of discussions about the life of wine, its cultural importance, and how anyone can become an expert.

It’s All In The Nose.

Alpana Singh’s expertise stems from a highly attuned palette, but she assures audiences that everyone can develop one if they learn to stop fearing wine and just figure out what tastes right. From corporate parties and dinners with corresponding wine tastings personally selected for the event, to course by course “How to Taste Like a Master” interactive sessions, Singh’s presentations are lively, informative, and tastefully fun. Being a unique member of her industry’s elite group of specialists, she also uses anecdotes and personal stories about becoming the first Indian woman to vault to the status of Master Sommelier. She conducts classes, provides post-event mixers and instructional wine bars for attendees, and creates exceptional experiences that are the ideal pairing of the informative and the entertaining. And everyone walks away with a greater knowledge about not only wine, but about the surprising depth of their personal taste.

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