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Playing Matchmaker

Though I’ve worked with wine in a number of capacities, I’ve had one obsession throughout my career: making other people fall in love with wine as much as I have. How can I help make wine a bigger part of people’s lives? How can I place good wine in people’s hands that will convert them, wow them, make them exclaim, “I get it now?”

I had my own moment on a Thanksgiving, back when I was working retail. At this wine shop, I was often on my feet for 12 hours straight, and on big holiday weekends, the owners sometimes poured something special for the staff. That evening, I heard that there was a red Burgundy open in the back, and ran over for about 30 seconds to fill my glass. I went back out on the floor to keep working, but my first sip stopped me cold. This wine just kept on going, changing to reveal more delicate, complex details.

This bottle of 1990 Vogüé Musigny evoked a sun shower in the South of France, where you can smell just enough of the local wildflowers in the rain to taunt your senses. I realized in that moment that if wine can be this good, it was worth going out and buying all the Pinot Noir I could get my hands on to replicate this experience. After that initial spark, too, I started to discover similar sensory beauty in other wines.

My featured pick: 

2006 Gemstone “Ten” Yountville Cabernet Blend Duo

One of the real problems I’ve run into is that in a lot of the United States, people just can’t get these “wow” wines. My mother lives in Ohio, and her local shop sells just about the most boring bottles possible. I love making the extraordinary available to more people, and Gemstone is one of my more remarkable recent finds. This is a one-time-only release, made by the gifted Philippe Melka. With deep, dark complexity, I’m certain this is a wine to inspire.

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