Randy Caparoso (born August 5, 1956) is a Hawaiian career wine professional known for his work as a sommelier/restaurateur, wine journalist (newspaper, magazine and online), wine producer, and wine judge.
After studying Western Philosophy at the University of Hawai`i between 1974 and 1978, Caparoso took his first sommelier position in a traditional French style restaurant in Honolulu called the Cavalier (shuttered in 1988).
In 1988 Caparoso met Chef Roy Yamaguchi, who had previously forged a high profile career in Los Angeles, fusing Asian ingredients and seasonings of his childhood up with the classical, sauce oriented, French cuisine with which he was trained (at that time Yamaguchi described this approach to cooking as Euro-Asian, which he later changed to Hawaiian Fusion). Yamaguchi established his first Roy's restaurant in Honolulu in 1988, bringing on Caparoso as a partner, manager, and wine director. Yamaguchi, Caparoso and other partners went on to open more than thirty other Roy's restaurants from Tokyo to New York, garnering such distinctions as a James Beard Foundation Award, a Gault Millau "Top 50 In the U.S." ranking, and enshrinement in Nation's Restaurant News "Fine Dining Hall of Fame."
From a wine perspective, the significance of Caparoso's collaboration with Yamaguchi was his broader based sourcing of wines from around the world to match a style of cuisine tempered by French techniques, but marked by strongly sweet, spicy/hot, sour, bitter and umami sensations typical in Asian foods, and that are not usually compatible with European style wines.
Caparoso was twice awarded the title of "Wine Marketer of the Year" by Restaurant Wine magazine: in 1994 for successful business practices with the Roy's restaurants, and in 1999 for the full range of wines (up to twelve different bottlings a year, from four different countries) Caparoso crafted and bottled under "Roy's" labels to match Roy's fusion style cuisine.
In 1998 Caparoso was the first "Wine & Spirits Professional of the Year" selected by Sante magazine for their yearly "Grand Awards."
After departing from Roy's as an active partner in 2001, Caparoso produced and sold three vintages of Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir under the Caparoso Wines label. At that time, Caparoso also expanded his profile as a wine journalist; from biweekly wine columnist for The Honolulu Advertiser (from 1981 to 2003) and featured writer for the online Wine Lovers Page (1998–present), to contributing writer for Sante and Practical Winery & Vineyard. Since 2007 Caparoso has also served as Bottom Line Columnist and Contributing Editor for Sommelier Journal.
In 1997 Caparoso was recognized with a "Certificate of Commendation" for "Excellence in Wine Writing and Encouragement of Higher Industry Standards" by the Academy of Wine Communications. In 1988 Caparoso sat for "Advanced Certificate" examinations administered by the Court of Master Sommeliers; and in 1992 he successfully passed examinations qualifying as a "Finalist" in the Institute of Masters of Wine.
As a professional wine judge, Caparoso has sat for L.A. County Fair, New World Wine Competition, Sonoma Harvest Fair, and Oregon State Fair. He has spoken frequently or led panel discussions for the Sante Restaurant Symposium, Society of Wine Educators, Hospice du Rhone, Aspen Food & Wine Classic, Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, and Sommelier Summit. He has also served as a national wine list judge for Sante's annual "Grand Awards"; and since 2008, as an Electoral College Member for the Vintners Hall of Fame administered by The Culinary Institute of America.