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Bast Amron at 10: Spotlight on Brian Tannebaum

Posted on October 23, 2019 in

In celebration of our 10th Anniversary, Bast Amron has asked each of our lawyers to write about their passion outside the law. This month Bast Amron highlights our General Counsel Brian Tannebaum. Brian is in his 25th year of practice and concentrates on representing lawyers and law firms and white-collar defense. He  joined the firm in 2016 after his partner in Tannebaum Weiss retired after 15 years of practicing law together. Brian is a graduate of the University of South Florida and Stetson University College of Law. He is also a Certified Sommelier, and yes, his passion is wine.

Brian Tannebaum celebrating his 50th with a 50 year old bottle of BV Latour Cabernet being opened at BV in Napa.

I am always asked “when did you get in to wine?” The answer? “I don’t remember, exactly.” It was sometime around the early 2000’s when someone gave me a glass of wine and I said “wow, that’s really good.” I started doing what I tell people to do that ask “how do I get in to wine?” I went to tastings and wine shops. I then bought what I thought was a really expensive bottle of wine for someone a few years out of the public defender’s office – Bennett Lane Maximus. It was $34.

The purchases became a few too many cardboard boxes in my house, and then it was time to create some formal space. On to a new house, that space is a room that doubles as an office. In there are the souvenirs of trips to Napa, Sonoma, Spain, Italy, and France. The first bottle I drank in my house is there, as is the bottle I opened when I turned in the transcript for my book. It’s a 1994 Chateau Haut-Brion that my wife bought me to celebrate. Why 1994? That’s the year I graduated law school. Wine creates great memories.

People ask if I collect wine, and the answer is “only to drink.” My oldest bottle is from my birth year, 1969. I have some wine from the 80’s but most is from the 90’s and after. My favorite wine? I hate that question. Depends on the day. The best wine I’ve ever had was a 2004 Aalto PS from Ribera del Duero, Spain. Do I like white wine? Sure. But not a buttery Chardonnay. Find me a Viognier or well-made Sauvignon Blanc, and I’ll have a glass or two. Where do I love to visit? Sonoma. In fact, I’m using the wi-fi right now on a trip there to write this piece. 

So why did I become a sommelier? My answer is always “some guys jump out of planes when they turn 40. I actually wasn’t 40, I was 42, but close enough. I did it because I loved wine and wanted to become proficient. So I went to school. I hadn’t been to school since law school or taken an exam since the Bar, so I was anxious about failing the test. I told no one I was doing it, except my wife. There were 24 people in my class, and 21 of them were in the restaurant or beverage industry. As they told me when they brought me in to give me the results: “you’re a lawyer, right?” “We didn’t think you would pass.” My celebratory drink? Patron Silver Tequila.

What I love most about wine is the people I meet, sharing what I’ve found, and trying new wines. I’m still reeling from making fun of a friend who enjoys Mexican wine, only to have judged a blind competition with him and, you guessed it, I picked the Mexican wine as the winner.

My best wine tip – drink what you like.

About the Author: Brian is the firm’s General Counsel and practices in the areas of Ethics and White Collar Defense, representing law firms as well as future clients, and former lawyers and legal professionals in matters before the Florida Bar and Board of Bar Examiners as well as in civil and criminal courts. Click here to find out more about Brian.