Dagorn is a registered Master Sommelier (an official wine expert), one of only 167 people in the world who hold that title. If that isn't enough proof, consider this: Dagorn was recently named a Sake Samurai, becoming the 17th member of an elite club of worldwide experts on the traditional Japanese brew.
So how did Dagorn, a former Maspeth resident, learn his stuff?
"I grew up in a wine-oriented restaurant environment," said Dagorn, speaking from the prestigious Manhattan restaurant Chanterelle, where he works as a master sommelier when he isn't teaching wine classes at City Tech. "I've been dealing with wine ever since."
Dagorn, 59, was born in France and immigrated to the United States at the age of nine in 1959. When his parents opened their midtown restaurant in the late 1960's, the young Dagorn was immersed in the world of fine wine and cuisine. Dagorn worked in the restaurant while studying at Queens College and stayed there until the place closed for good in 1979.
Three years later, he became a sommelier at another Manhattan restaurant. By 1992, he had taken, and passed, the series of rigorous exams to earn the vaunted title of Master Sommelier and had found a home at Chanterelle.
Instead of resting on his well-earned laurels, however, Dagorn has spent his off-days at City Tech, in downtown Brooklyn, where he teaches introductory and advanced wine courses in the college's Hospitality and Management Program.
"I find it very satisfying to teach and mentor up-and-coming sommeliers," said Dagorn. Though few - if any - will match their teacher's illustrious career, at the very least they'll develop a sophisticated passion for the alcoholic beverage Dragon says is quickly gaining in popularity across the globe.
"In recent years the interest in wine has increased dramatically" said Dagorn, in communities from Manhattan to Maspeth - where, as a young resident, Dagorn said he saw an influx of foreigners nurture a local interest in wine. "There's a lot of immigrants that live in Maspeth," said Dagorn, "and Europeans are often times more wine-oriented."
The increasing popularity of wines in America might mean that average Americans are catching up. Of course, Dagorn, who has cultivated a passion for sake, is already one step ahead.
Moving beyond wine, Dagorn traveled to Kyoto, Japan, last October to accept the title of Sake Samurai. Dagorn said he was honored to receive the award, but won't let it get to his head.
"There's plenty of titles out there," said Dagorn. "But there's still a lot to learn. I'm still learning every day."