Sommelier Shebnem Ince of Henri - Biography

Chicago, IL

February 2011

Born and raised in Chicago, Sommelier Shebnem Ince’s introduction to wine came at a young age, while Ince was working as a stock person and gift wrapper at her father’s wine shop. Noticing his daughter’s extraordinary passion for the wide world of wines, her father encouraged Ince with a steady supply of wine textbooks and recorded lectures on the various wine regions of France.

In 2001, a thoroughly educated Ince made her transition to another professional branch of the wine world: restaurants. She began working with wine programs at Blackbird and mk, and the following year, she undertook the Que Syrah, a boutique wine shop in Lakeview that she ran for the next four years. No doubt growing up in her father’s wine shop made her a natural. It was during this time that Ince passed the introductory exam for the Court of Master Sommeliers and completed the certified exam.

When she’s not preparing for the Advanced exam (she’s set to take it in 2011), Ince can be found overseeing beverage programs at both Henri and The Gage, two beloved Chicago restaurants from 2011 Chicago Rising Star Chef Dirk Flanigan. She has been at The Gage since its opening, managing a small, focused wine list to work with the seasonal cuisine of the bustling gastropub. As if she needed any more proof of her early, natural passion, Ince was named one of Food & Wine’s “Top 10 Sommeliers” in April of 2011.