James Tidwell has been described as a “no-pretense wine savant” in restaurant reviews. This reflects his background as the son of a small-town preacher and his studies and accomplishments in the world of food and beverages. He can discuss not only the taste of wine but also the historical, cultural, and scientific factors that led to the personality of it. For these qualities, he is highly sought after as a writer, a speaker, a teacher, and a mentor.
James is currently Beverage Manager and Sommelier at Four Seasons Resort and Club in Irving, Texas. He is a sommelier representative on Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts’ corporate beverage committee, and consults for other Four Seasons properties.
In 2009, he passed the prestigious Master Sommelier examination, only the 100th American wine professional to earn the title. He has attained several other wine certifications, including the Diploma from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust and Certified Wine Educator administered by the Society of Wine Educators. He is not limited to wine, studying sake, tea, and other beverages. He has completed coursework with the Specialty Tea Institute, and has presented at the World Tea Expo.
Most well-known for co-founding TEXSOM, the nation’s preeminent wine educational conference, James built his reputation on elevating the level of service, knowledge, and camaraderie in the beverage industry. He is respected as a leader and a visionary among his peers.
After years of study and hard work, James’ efforts first were recognized in 2003 when he passed the Certified Wine Educator Exam on the first attempt and scored the highest out of the hundreds of candidates that took the exam that year. Then in 2007, Starchefs named him a “Rising Star Sommelier.” And, in 2011 he was nominated for the James Beard Foundation’s “Outstanding Wine Service Award.”
Previous to entering the wine business, James earned a Bachelor of Science in International Trade and Finance from Louisiana State University. He then went on to graduate with honors from the prestigious Culinary Institute of America.
Other industry activities include writing for both trade and consumer publications, judging wine competitions, consulting for private clubs, and mentoring fledgling sommeliers.