There are few restaurants anywhere that measure up to what Pappas Bros. Steakhouse has on offer in its wine cellars. Imagine the pride — and the pressure — that puts on their no-less big-league team of sommeliers.

I’ve always wondered which corks would be the first to get popped if their bosses gave them carte blanche to do so. Somms can fantasize, too, right? So we asked three of the Pappas’ leading wine lights to pick their “poison” for us.

Steven McDonald
1811 Château d’Yqeum, $30,000
A recently minted Master Sommelier who serves as the wine director at Pappas’ Galleria-area steakhouse, McDonald shot the moon. A bottle of the same vintage — the harvest predated Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo by four years — sold at auction for about $117,000 to a French collector in 2011, making it the most expensive bottle of white wine on record. “This Sauternes from Bordeaux is one that few people (obviously) have even tasted, but there is no question that it is the most famous and long-lived sweet wine on the planet,” says McDonald. “(Our bottle) was checked and recorked in 2001 at Chateau d’Yquem, so I am sure that it’s still alive and beautiful.”

Jack Mason
1945 Château Haut-Brion, $28,500
A fellow Master Sommelier who works with McDonald at the Westheimer location, Mason went with one of the most famous red wines of the 20th century — from a vintage that defied all logic, given how neglected the vineyards of Bordeaux seemingly were that fall after five long years of war. “Recently sourced from cellars in Bordeaux, this bottle has spent its entire life in France and has now made its way to Pappas Bros.,” he says. “Getting to try such an iconic vintage from an iconic château with incredible provenance and age would surely be a treat.”

Bill Elsey
1985 Domaine René Engel Clos de Vougeot, $1,860 
The wine director at downtown Pappas Bros. looked to Burgundy for his pick. “It’s special for a few reasons,” says Elsey. “For starters, the domaine does not exist anymore, meaning the wines are extremely rare and difficult to find. Secondly, in addition to the cultlike status they have among collectors, the Clos Vougeot from Engel is considered by many to be the best wine ever produced from their holdings. It was made from an ideally situated single plot within the Grand Cru that sits just below the Chateau of Clos Vougeot itself, with perfect orientation and drainage, allowing it to produce wines with tremendous ability to age for 25-plus years.”