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This Certified Specialist of Wine has been selling it for 31 years, the last 20 at Vintner Select. He’s watched Cincinnati tastes shift from Gallo Chablis to Schloss Gobelsburger Grüner Veltliner, and he couldn’t be more thrilled.
What brought you to the wine business? I got laid off from a landscape architecture job in 1981, and took a job at the airport’s Celebration Liquors, where I eventually became the wine buyer. Cincinnati was the weakest market in Ohio for fine wine in the early ’80s. The retail market was dominated by Kroger, selling Gallo and Inglenook.
Where did you go for a great glass of wine in the ’80s versus now? The Alpha in Clifton. They had the first Cruvinet [wine dispensing system] in town. Now we have many more chef-owners who are both passionate and knowledgeable about wine, like David Cook of Daveed’s Next, and Julie Francis of Nectar.
Any downsides to the transformation? You don’t see restaurants with a wine cellar where they’re purposely aging any more. If there is one thing that I’d bring back from the ’80s, it would be to have mature wines going to the table. There’s nothing like having the berry flavors of the fruit without the sweetness of the sugar, especially in cabernet sauvignon.
What’s your favorite glass now? Schloss Gobelsburger Grüner Veltliner [currently available at Trio]. It has the richness of a Riesling, without the peachy-nectar quality, and a lush texture with great acid balance of melons and mineral.
Originally published in the March 2014 issue.