With 2012 “Sommelier of the Year” honors under his belt from both Food & Wine and Wine Enthusiast, Michael Madrigale has his place firmly cemented in the upper echelon’s of the wine world. But while a handful of other pros may be able to match his knowledge of grapes and vintages, there’s one area where he’s definitely got them all beat: Being awesome at Twitter.

Sommeliers are among the last people you expect to be social-media savvy, but Madrigale has embraced the platform to delve into everything from breakfast-burrito etiquette to Gang Starr, not to mention his job running the wine program for Bar Boulud, Boulud Sud, and Épicerie Boulud. Each evening, he tweets a photo of a large-format bottle he’s serving “BTG” (“by the glass”), and he often celebrates standout pours with a tweet beginning “the best bottle I opened tonight.”

While these 140-character missives represent only a tiny fraction of Madrigale’s work as a somm in Daniel Boulud’s haute empire, they speak to his ability to sidestep all the stuffy clichés surrounding wine and make it fun—not just for the restaurants’ moneyed regulars, but also younger drinkers who might not have the loot to cop a jeroboam of their own, but may like to pop into Boulud Sud for a little charcuterie and a pour from Madrigale’s latest show-stopping big bottle.

As it turns out, not doing things by the books comes pretty naturally to Madrigale, whose path into the wine world doesn’t involve any formal wine training or certification. So how exactly did he become the most celebrated sommelier of the Twitter generation, anyway? Turns out there’s a damn good story there, involving a fateful post-college party, a star-crossed romance in France, a colleague who described a pinot noir as a “phat bomb,” and rock legend Lou Reed. Here, Madrigale touches on all this and more as he walks us through the the 10 wines that have shaped his career so far.

Interview by Jonathan Cristaldi (@NobleRotNYC)