Master of Ceremonies: Douglas Kim, Master Sommelier, Now Helms MGM’s Vegas Wine Program

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(Courtesy Jenn Smulo)

In December 2021, MGM Resorts International named Master Sommelier Douglas Kim its Director of Wine. Kim will oversee an incredible 350,000 bottles within the MGM Resorts active collection, spanning hundreds of restaurants and bars at iconic Las Vegas properties including Bellagio, ARIA, MGM Grand, Park MGM and Mandalay Bay.

One of the world’s few double-certified Master Sommeliers, Kim developed a love for the culinary arts while growing up in Chicago. He would cook with his older sisters while their parents worked. A culinary school wine class uncorked the passion that has driven his meteoric career. Kim’s first hospitality position was in Vegas, at Restaurant Charlie by Charlie Trotter. A move to Aureole at Mandalay Bay began a rapid ascent to Director of Wine at the two-Michelin-starred Picasso Restaurant at Bellagio. In his personal life, Kim is dedicated to expanding both the wine market and education opportunities in South Korea.

The Vegas Guide spoke to him about his latest landmark appointment.

Q: What does it mean to you to be named Director of Wine for MGM Resorts International?

It is surreal to think that I am able to be in this position. It is a summation of the years of hard work starting in kitchens and working my way through great restaurants and wine programs. It took the support of my family, friends and colleagues as well. What I was able to achieve in terms of both personal and career goals is a blessing.

Q: What is your vision for the MGM collection across its hundreds of restaurants and bars?

I would like each restaurant and bar to have its own identity driven by the concept and operators and guided by myself. It is important for me to have the sommeliers and managers feel that they are part of the program where they have say in its direction. The ownership they have provides a sense of pride and excitement for those that work in the day-to-day operations.

Q: How would you characterize your distinctive, guest-centric approach to your role?

We have something for everyone at MGM Resorts! We want our guests to be comfortable whether they drink a delicious classic or are interested in talking to our talented sommeliers to try a new and different selection. We are fortunate to be able to provide that level of service to our guests. Guests travel to Las Vegas to have a great time and we enjoy being a part of their experience.

Q: How has your extensive background in the industry prepared you for your prestigious new position?

Culinary school gave me an understanding of cuisine in terms of flavors and techniques. That knowledge alone has an immediate benefit in the wine world, as they are so correlated. Then, working for some of the greatest chefs and restaurants set the bar high in terms of service along with curating expansive wine lists, sometimes up to 3,000 selections, which is a fast track in learning about the wines of the world. All of these factors gave me a great foundation to succeed, but I’m still excited to continue to learn and tackle any challenges in this new role.

Q: Finally, why is education - both your own continuing education and passing along your expertise to others – so important to you, and to your industry?

I think about the countless friends, colleagues, and mentors that have helped me in my journey, and without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I have been fortunate to experience and learn so much over the years, but it is all meaningless if you can’t pass that on to the next group of passionate individuals. Wine always tastes better when you share with friends.  

By Paul Rogers, Vegas Guide Writer