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“I like doing things differently.” Cheryl Wakerhauser on her fifth consecutive year as the winner of Best Champagne & Sparkling Wine List in the World

By Alex Hunt MW |  November 29 2020

Pix Pâtisserie, the self-proclaimed “dessert oasis” is the unrivaled recipient of the World’s Best Champagne & Sparkling Wine List, winning the award every year since its inception with a list that still, in our judges’ words, “defies imagination.” We caught up with owner Cheryl Wakerhauser after this year’s ceremony to talk all things sparkling.

Congratulations on the success of Pix Pâtisserie in the World’s Best Wine Lists Awards 2018. What does it mean to you to win this award?
This is the fifth year in a row. I cannot even begin to explain in words what it means, as it is so emotional. When I first started my journey into wine I would have never imagined it would come to a recognition as high as this! Just unbelievable.

How did you and the team celebrate?
I was in London at the awards ceremony, which was such a treat. Naturally, we went out for champagne afterwards. Back in Portland we offered our customers some amazing special flights and glass pours of bottles we normally would not open.

Can you describe your wine list?
It has lots of champagne! Over 450 cuvées plus another 100+ sparkling wines from around the globe. I think it is interesting where they are making sparkling wine these days and I try to promote it where I can. The focus is on smaller producers and I try to include disgorgement dates and base wine years wherever I can. This lets you know exactly what you’re getting, not just “NV.” After champagne, sherry is in the spotlight, as it is my other love. We have over 140 different sherries in all styles, price points and sizes. If you want a 1975 Añada Palo Cortado in magnum from Bodegas Tradición, we got you covered.

What inspires your wine list?
My travels and the producers themselves. I love visiting the places where the wines we serve come from and hearing the stories from the wine makers. It is something you never forget.

Have you noticed any trends in the wine or the restaurant scene?
Definitely single parcel wines coming out of Champagne. The parcels are so small and there are so many (because they are so small!) that it is hard to keep up with them all. I see this as an interesting study on the terroir of champagne, which for so many years has largely been anonymous blended NV wines.

What wine regions or producers have inspired you recently?
I recently traveled to Madeira and have fond memories. Our hosts were so hospitable and the range of wines available was mind-blowing. Madeira is truly unique.

What would you say to encourage others to enter the World’s Best Wine Lists Awards?
If you have put your passion in your work as I have and many others, then you deserve to get recognized. Go for it!

Pix Pâtisserie is unique among our entries and a rarity in general. What inspired you to work with the winning yet challenging combination of wine and pâtisserie?
I love them both. In reality, I started pairing our desserts with Belgian beers. The more I learned and began to appreciate wine, the more I wanted to pair them with my pâtisserie. I like doing things differently.

Favorite dish on the menu?
Savory: Solano Arriola, Mariposa Anchovies. The best tasting anchovies to come out of the Cantabrian Sea, hands down. The Cantabrian Sea is on the Northern coast of Spain near San Sebastián and is famous for its exceptional quality anchovies. These anchovies are butterflied leaving the tail on before curing in salt for 6–7 months and then hand packed in olive oil. Bar Vivant (Pix’s in-house tapas bar) is the exclusive importer for these gems in the entire United States! Must try.

Sweet: Open Hunting Season. Praline/rum Bavarian cream with apricot compote and a rum-soaked nut trio (pistachio/hazelnut/almond) sponge cake. Really great with an amontillado sherry!

Go-to wine or drink to relax after work?
I am a margarita fan for relaxation after work. But only three ingredients—Mezcal, Cointreau and fresh lime. Oh, yeah…salted rim.

Top tip for a local drinking spot?
Ambonnay (Portland, OR) for champagne and some of the best prices by the glass.

Cork or screw cap?
Whatever works for your wine. I do believe there is a myth that screwcap wine cannot age in the bottle. You should all talk to Rollin Soles at Rocco Winery in the Willamette Valley and he’ll set you straight on that.

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